When we started planning for the 2021 Before the Summer Show, to be held in Gananoque in early May, I wondered what unforeseen benefits the pandemic had brought to other artists of my acquaintance.
Unfortunately, because of the rapid spread of Covid 19 variants in Ontario, we have had to cancel the in-person Show. However, paintings are bursting out of closets and spare rooms at all the artists' homes, and instead of coming in person, I hope you will visit the show website, browse through the paintings there, and visit the artists' websites or FaceBook pages. If you see something you crave, don't hesitate to contact the artist. They would be delighted to hear from you and socially distanced purchase and pickup is easy to arrange. Start here: www.beforethesummer.com. Stay safe and have a wonderful summer.
And now, here are some of the unforeseen benefits . . .
Every morning during the past year, waiting out the coronavirus, I have gone for a walk with a friend. We walk from the Inner Harbour in Kingston north along the K&P Trail beside the Cataraqui River, and turn around when we reach Montreal Street, across the road from Quattrochi's.
In the stretch between Rideau and Montreal Streets, there is a little swamp I photograph every day. Every day it changes, especially since a beaver moved in and started chopping down trees. The water started rising after he (or she?) built a dam.
I don't know why the water hasn't frozen despite the cold winter, but perhaps water from run-off pipes or methane from decomposing plants in the swamp keep it running. A kingfisher sticks around to take advantage of the open water.
In January, I started painting the swamp through the seasons, using up old canvases of all sizes, some covered with a lot of texture, some smooth. Working my way around a single subject has taught me a lot, and, with the gift of time after so many social activities were cancelled, my pandemic year has had unexpected pleasures.
You can see the full series (to date) at https://tifaa.weebly.com/martha-stroud.html.
It was New Year's Eve. Under a full moon, we hiked up Knob Hill which is the second highest elevation in the area (next to Blue Mtn.) and is just behind our home. We took four of our friends. Shooting stars, fireworks and the spectacular view were part of the magic of that night, and for all of us adults and children, a bonfire with marshmallows when we returned to our house made it even more special.
The experience stayed with me and I had to paint it. I chose to do so as it appeared just shy of the summit. I now think of that night and the painting as a metaphor of hope for a new year with the pandemic behind us. It was also my first painting in 2021!
For family reasons during this fall and winter, I made several trips north to the Yarker area and always passed what I perceived to be a flooded old stone quarry. I finally took a few pictures and did this painting.
During the pandemic, I have tried to turn a negative into something more positive. I, of course, very much missed the interaction with family, and friends, but we as painters/artisans, are fortunate that we can escape into our own little world.
I, for one, developed a close relationship with a bobcat, and we spent many happy hours together.
When I first heard of the pandemic back in January of 2020, I knew that we were in for some major lifestyle changes for some time to come. I remember thinking how lucky I was to be an artist, who already spent hours painting in my studio each day, and how my day-to-day activities would, for the most part, remain unchanged.
I quickly stocked up on canvases and paint supplies to ensure I would have everything I needed for several months to come. I started painting my local surroundings series and it was extremely easy to find inspiration all around me.
I painted the moon rising in my back yard, a ship sailing past my window, scenes from photographs taken on my walks thru the Merc trails in Maitland, of geese parading on block house island and of the Ivy Lee campgrounds etc.
More recently, I have started painting a series of places where I have traveled, out of nostalgia and just to change things up a bit. You can see these and more of my paintings on my Facebook page; hope you enjoy them.
Facebook: Rachel Legault Art.
Nothing like a global reset to shake up how we think about our homes. I have learned to slow down, to re-evaluate what is important to me and to appreciate my surroundings. Simple pleasures such as baking family favorites, reviewing old photographs, reconnecting with friends, appreciating family heirlooms and the stories they tell, have inspired me to paint. This has allowed me to return to the familiar and the everyday, where we cherish home and garden as a nurturing place of tranquility, and inspiration.
In March 2020 I did a series depicting the calm of slowing down, taking the time to enjoy my home and garden as special places. I am currently working on a series called “Flavours and Favorite’s.”
For many months after the start of the Covid 19 pandemic I lacked any inspiration or desire to paint. With the announcements of the availability of the vaccine and the promise of spring my spirits soared.
Now I enjoy working in my studio again. The beautiful Thousand Islands area always holds a fascination for me, which I hope shows in my paintings.
In April 2020, the pandemic was rapidly changing our lives. I had still not grasped how much it was going to affect all of us. At this point I was haunted by the images coming out of Italy. Having visited Italy many times and knowing how people conduct their lives, the images of people shut up in their homes and apartments were truly disturbing to me.
This was the first painting I did in TIFAA's Thursday painting group, which was started by Belia Brandow and provided structure and incentives to continue painting during these stressful times.
The beginning of pandemic created a weird kind of artistic freedom for me. I was happily forced to stay at home where my basement studio welcomes me as place where I can escape, paint and be creative.
I found that the natural world filled with colour and light was most important for me to paint during this stressful time. My hope is that my work will help people to see beauty and escape from the stress of this difficult time.
Again, because you can't join us in person - please enjoy and explore these artists' work at www.beforethesummer.com and delight the artists if you feel the urge to own one! We sincerely hope that by next year people will be vaccinated and we will be able to welcome you to the Firehall Theatre in person. Stay safe and have a good summer.
By Martha Stroud
Martha Stroud's family emigrated from Ireland around 1908, to live first in Gananoque, then Kingston and finally Toronto, where she was born. She has lived and worked on three continents, but is very happy to have retired back to Kingston and the Thousand Islands area, where she tries to capture nature ever-changing on canvas. See Martha's past articles and the work of her many artist friends here and here!
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