Introducing "The Padre's War Diary" by Brian Dalton

Elizabeth's Art Gallery: Tell us about your book.

Brian Dalton: It is called The Padre's War Diary, an account of four to six years of war in Europe by my uncle, Chaplain Michael Dalton. He wrote it during his time with the soldiers. It is a selection of 229 of his 528 diary entries with 200 illustrations.

E: This book took you four and a half years to complete. How long were you thinking about it beforehand?

BD: About a year.

E: Why did you decide to do this?

BD: I had made a graphic novelette for the Royal Ontario Museum, Sam and the Secrets of the Ancient Maya. You can still see it online. I had sat down and worked every day for 34 days, and I thought, "This is fun; I'm going to do one of my own."
I've always had it in the back of my mind that this diary is a remarkable document. It took me a year to figure out what of his diary to use. He was at war for two years before he started it, which I'm really glad of, or it would have been a lot longer.

E: It's so visual. How did you know what to draw?

BD: If the diary entries mentioned the Rouen Cathedral in France I Googled Rouen Cathedral, and if it was the Prince of Wales ship in the North Sea I found it. Mike talked about going up in an airplane; I found that type of airplane. I couldn't have done it without Google. A lot of the pictures, too, are from his own archives.

E: Explain the value of this book in our modern day.

BD: It's for the reason we have Remembrance Day. It's complicated. It's about remembering those who sacrificed their lives. What I don't think is understood by a great many people is that WWII was a just war. There were atrocities: the Allies bombed Dresden and killed innocent people. But Hitler was out to take over the world, to establish a Third Reich. He invaded Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, Holland, Norway -- his goal was to take over the planet. The Japanese joined in and so the Allies engaged in an idealistic war to stop tyranny, the Nazis, the Holocaust. This is about that.
I read Gwynne Dyer who says that we're past the cycle in which world conflicts normally happen: that we could easily have one again. Before World War II and before Hitler became obviously imperialistic, people didn't think it would happen. People right now don't think it will happen. I'm not saying it's going to happen.
The other aspect, a parallel theme, is the confessions: the Catholic ritual of people saying they have sinned. Other religions have it in different ways -- people trying to make things right with their conscience, I guess. There are ten interactions between the chaplain and the soldiers in which they describe situations. They're one-sided depictions of what these guys went through; he doesn't say anything.
I tried to imagine what these soldiers were saying. I did that by reading a couple of really good books on "battle fatigue", or what used to be called "shell shock", or other terms for PTSD. Nobody even needs to spell that out; everyone knows Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We all say we know how bad it is in Afghanistan, we know how Canadian troops suffer from PTSD, but I don't think we really do. We can't.
I tried to make the book pretty graphic. We can see soldiers stepping in other people's intestines. Mike writes in one place, "The smell of human flesh burning is depressing."
There are places where he talks about the glory of war and the defense of good against evil, so that some people have said he liked war. He didn't like war. He talks about the ugliness of war, and soldiers as being noble, and their noble cause. They died for freedom.
Another thing: even though Mike was Catholic, by the end of the war he became an ecumenical person. There are at least a dozen places where he describes non-Catholic men and admires them. I think he began to see -- he was born in 1902, and you can think of men being born in that Victorian era, living thirteen miles north of Goderich, growing up without much knowledge of the bigger world. When he trained to be a priest in seminary he only saw people of his own faith. But when he went to war he sat beside men in the trains and slept beside men in the tents, and he realized that the world is a bigger place than his church.
You might be surprised to find that after it all, with his big family and all the men is his realm, he dedicated the diary to-- but this won't be a surprise to anybody who knew him -- "those Jews and non-Catholics who helped make my war years livable and, I hope, useful."
That's what I like about him. I'm not a Catholic; never was. My parents thought they would make me one, but it didn't take. I had some sort of no-belief gene, but Mike didn't care. I told him that and he said "You are what you are."
I like the idea of unity. "Ecumenical" means everyone is the same.

E: Where can we find this book?

BD: Here at the Gallery, at Fincher's or at the Book Peddler on West Street starting today.

E: One more question: is this book for you, for him, for the men or for everybody else?

BD: All of the above. I did it because I wanted to do it; I didn't really think about selling it or what it was going to turn out like. I put in the beginning of the book, "For my Dad," because he was Mike's little brother and he admired the dickens out of him.
So, I did it because I thought it was worth doing.

E: That's a good answer.

Brian Dalton is a much-loved contributor to the Gallery. We're so proud to host his reading on Wednesday, November 9 at 7:00pm, which will also feature a collection of book illustrations never-before displayedWon't you join us?

Call to Artists

Call to Artists!

This week we're giving a...


We are making a Call to Artists: fill our Fresh Air Exchange with new art!

Maybe you know what should be exhibited, or maybe you know someone who does.

The Goderich BIA, in partnership with Libro Credit Union and private community sponsors, is proud to sponsor the commissioning and implementation of artwork upon this outdoor gallery space.

We are able to hang original, weather-ready works of art in the form of paintings, collages, sculptures and more. We have the capability to reprint original artworks onto outdoor-grade materials. We've built an excellent network of local members -- including signmakers, architects, steel forgers, businesspeople, writers and visual artists. Oh, and funders -- we didn't forget that part!

Submissions will be reviewed on an ongoing basis -- we're happy to partner with you in turning your vision into reality!

Tap here to link directly to the Public Art Group's SUBMISSION page.

The Fresh Air Exchange is currently hosting historic images from the earliest days of the Goderich salt trade -- circa 1866.

The outdoor gallery walls of the Fresh Air Exchange are currently located in Courthouse Park and at the Huron County Museum.


Preserving history - beautifully.

It's an "Insta" world -- and that's not a bad thing. With Internet-empowered camera phones at the ready, we're finding it easier than ever to keep in touch with loved ones, integrate with community networks and document our changing world. On the daily we're exposing injustices, holding politicians to their promises, recommending restaurants and learning to take flattering "selfies". In a world awash with digitized images and e-opinions, the ones we hold in our hands are telling special story.

An old map came across our desk last week: it's a plan of Goderich as it was founded in 1829, and it's gorgeous. Many of the streets aren't labelled, but the rise and fall of the land is, harkening to a time when we knew more about working the dirt under our feet than what we called it. One can imagine the paper, torn out of some forgotten publication, growing yellow over the years as the town of Goderich grew in size.

We selected a double-thick mat in just the right shade to match the paper -- here, lots of archival options make our job easier! From hundreds of framing options (which can sometimes make the job feel tougher), we settled on a golden one with a turquoise patina. We think it ties in the coloured inks of the map perfectly, while paying lighthearted homage to the age of the piece. UV-filtering Art Glass with a low-glare treatment is the perfect way to make sure all the special little details show up clearly for the next hundred years!

We're blessed to see such links to our past and honoured to do our part in preserving them.

Check out the bygone hotel located near the lighthouse and the old spelling of "Guelf"!

Check out the bygone hotel located near the lighthouse and the old spelling of "Guelf"!

A Tribute to Celtic Roots

Celtic artists: David Rankine, Jonathan Harper, Brigitte Wolf

Celtic Roots College & Festival is the fourth-largest of its kind anywhere in the world, so we would be remiss if we didn't wish "Tá fáilte romhat" to all who have come this week to fill Goderich's schools, streets, Harbour Park -- and yes, empty beds!

The Gallery is particularly proud to host Celtic-inspired art by David Rankine, Jonathan Harper and Brigitte Wolf: pieces that are as lovely to behold as these artists are to know.

We featured David Rankine in a previous promo post when he led his Healing Mandala workshop here. His colouring books are locally designed, constructed and distributed, which only adds to the peaceful aura they instill.

David is the creator of the Celtic Roots Festival's stage banners. He's given a few sneak peeks of this year's new designs, and response has been overwhelmingly positive. So, David has decided to grace admirers with the chance to have and to share these images -- on a much smaller scale, of course! We're thrilled to be working with him on this -- we'll let you know when this special offer is ready to be released!

Jonathan Harper's pottery has been described as beautiful, functional, whimsical, strong, delicate -- and it's all true! We have a wide selection of Jonathan's works on display, to carry on that fun, family feeling of the Celtic Roots Artisan Village year 'round.

What better way to let the light shine in than through Brigitte Wolf's windows? She has just brought in two more Celtic-inspired, stained- and flashed-glass pieces. If you've been considering one of these pieces, don't wait much longer -- flashed glass has become quite difficult to source, says the artist. These works are housed in locally-sourced hardwood frames constructed by Brigitte herself, so you know they're made right!

Celtic College is winding down now, but the Festival starts tomorrow morning! There's no way we'd miss out on the creative, laid-back community vibe (or the food, to be honest), so look for us there!


Coloured pencils, pastels and other fun stuff: a quick tutorial

PASTELS are colourful little stumps of potential. Ours come paper-wrapped and just the right size for your hand. We carry two types:

1. SOFT PASTELS - pure pigment in a gum binder. Pretty much the most intensely-coloured art medium out there. Because they don't contain any hardeners or adherents, they're easily blended and re-worked -- but take care not to create too much dust. These really need a toothy surface to cling to -- see "GROUND" below. Finish with an acid-free spray fixative, and protect the finished piece behind glass.

2. OIL PASTELS - pure pigment in an oil-based binder. Smooth and buttery, they fill the grain of the backing substrate more densely than soft pastels do and don't require a fixative. Can be spread across a surface by the addition of a turpentine-type thinner. Also don't contain any hardeners or adherents -- so make sure to protect the finished piece behind glass.

COLOURED PENCILS can be found in a couple variations at the Gallery: premier soft-core (SO COLOURFUL) and water-soluble (so you can paint with them!). We carry both boxed sets and open stock -- and we've set our suppliers into a tizzy keeping up to our demand! "Adult colouring" really is more than a craze! 

PAPER means a lot more here than nearly anywhere else! We carry reams and reams of it, in different colours, tooths, weights... there's even fabric paper and water-proof, synthetic paper! We'll help you select the perfect sheet for your project. Try a dark or bright shade and watch your pastels pop!

GROUND is a neat product in a little jar... it goes on translucent to get nearly any backing pastel-ready. What it does is add tooth to your substrate. Just roll out a thin coat with a smooth, water-moistened roller and let it dry to a nice, sand-papery finish. Can be used on paper or something thicker -- Elizabeth likes to use spare pieces of matting! Always acid-free and available in every colour of the rainbow, they're a drool-worthy way to set up a pastel work. She might let your peruse her selection if you sweet-talk her real nice.

Meet Vivian Ripley.

Students, Critics and Art-Lovers of the world, pay attention: Vivian Ripley has been a full-time professional musician since 1960 and a full-time professional artist since 1974. A Signature- or Charter Member of seven art societies, her works can be found in private collections internationally. She has talent to spare and insight to share.

Elizabeth's Art Gallery: How long have you been an artist?

Vivian Ripley: Professionally since 1974. That's a long time, but of course, I've been interested in art my whole life. I consider "professionally" to be when you're wanting to sell your work and making sales; not just doing it and giving it to people, or doing it on the side while you're employed at something else.

E: How did you get your start?

VR: I've been drawing all my life; I did this on my own.
I didn't really take classes -- when I was young I did take art all through school, but when I decided what I wanted to major in at college, it had to be either art or music. They both require so much time practicing outside of the classroom that you can't complete a double-major in them. I picked the music because I had been playing piano since I was seven years old and was far enough along to do that as a career. I knew that if you don't keep up your technique, you lose it; and I figured that if I wanted to return to art later, I could.
I've been teaching piano since 1960; still do. This is my 56th year. I have a full studio of 20 students. I teach art regularly, too. Regular classes will begin again in September; there's a week-long course in West Virginia at the end of July. My coloured-pencil students didn't want to wait 'til September, so they're working out four times in August for us to hold our class.
I am a musician; I am an artist. I want to excel in both. I was just in an art show on Sunday in South Columbus, Ohio -- I won third prize.

E: Congratulations!

VR: Thank you. It was a purchase prize -- they bought my painting. And I just found I have two pictures accepted into the Wyoming Watercolor Society's Juried National Show.

E: Of course you did.
Where did you pick up your colour palette?

VR: I took one semester of freehand drawing in college. The instructor wanted me to change my major; I wouldn't do it. When I started to become serious about doing this, I would go to shows and look at various works and talk to other artists around me --  people whose work I liked. I started learning about various colour combinations -- how colours work together -- and became very interested in how to build contrast with colours.
I do like to experiment. I try different things. When something new comes out, I try it . I don't like to be stuck. It's much more interesting for me when I don't rely on the same colours all the time.

E: Whom do you admire artistically?

VR: Current artists? I'll tell you, a terrific watercolour painter is Alvaro Castagnet (it's pronounced "AL-vro cast-a-NYET). Oh gosh, there are a lot of really good painters. Geanne Grastorf is another -- I took a workshop with her eight years ago. I had been experimenting with starting a watercolour by pouring the paint, and that's her specialty. I've continued with that technique. I found Geanne to be a lovely person, so we exchange birthday notices and Christmas cards and so on.
The famous ones? I don't have a favourite... of course Andrew Wyeth is terrific.

E: Food question -- what's your favourite dish?

VR: I like Italian food a lot and can always count on liking ravioli. I like cheese ravioli with the regular red sauce and lots of extra parmesan.

Our current selection of Vivian's works can be viewed and purchased online by visiting here.

Meet Allan Paterson.

Allan Paterson's sweet works immediately arrested our attention and made us want to get to know him. We found that, for his prolific art career, he is a meek soul. We're excited to exhibit his pieces beginning June 27. Allan's lines fall in pleasant places -- come see.

Elizabeth's Art Gallery: Where are you from?

Allan Paterson: Born in Montreal; my parents moved to Oakville so I ended up there as a teenager.

E: Have you always been a painter?

AP: Yes.

E: Explain.

AP: Nothing much to explain: I've always loved painting and drawing and art and dabbled in it. I went to The American Academy of Art in Chicago for a year to get a portfolio,  came back and got a job with Bata Shoe Company for about three years.

E: Were you able to use your creativity?

AP: It wasn't very creative at all: I did Christmas cards for them and that kind of thing. It was my first job.  Then I ended up at Display Arts, where we sold artwork for stores to use as window backdrops. I worked there for about eight years.

E: Did you have people telling you what to do?

AP: Not really. We would have to do a portfolio for each season. The boss would come to each artist and tell us what he wanted, or we would do what we wanted to do. People would look through the portfolio and choose art for their windows.

E: How was the art handled at that point?

AP: The original piece would be blown up to 8 feet, the black-and-white image would be mass-produced and pasted on foam-core, and then the women would hand-tint the panels.

E: What was that like for you?

AP: It was wonderful because I drew all day. I created. You couldn't get a better job than that, as far as I was concerned.

E: Did you find yourself fitting your art to trends?

AP: Yes, things I would see that I liked. I remember macramé being in -- I painted some of that one summer. That rather dates me.
Then I opened up a store with my partner. I got into tollware then, because we were selling pine furniture. I did tinware and would sell that in the store.

E: Was that enough for you?

AP: Not really. I also got into trompe l'oeil and did several jobs for friends -- cupboards and such.

E: What came next?

AP: We wanted to leave the city and ended up in Wingham. My partner went on to be a salesman on the road; I retired. I had been diagnosed with MS in 1985. I mention it to help people who have MS know that life does go on.

E: What mediums do you work in?

AP: Watercolour and acrylic.

E: What do you like about them?

AP: I like the freedom and flexibility of watercolour; I like acrylic because you can work it over. I do both all the time.

E: Your acrylics are SO colourful.

AP: I'm into negative background painting. I really enjoy it. You paint the whole canvas with bright colours and nothing in mind. All you've got is shapes; you start filling in the background and bringing out the pattern, the design, from there.

E: What are you saying through your art?

AP: ...What am I saying? I'm just enjoying it. I've had someone ask me what to do, and I said, "Just have fun, and enjoy it, and keep painting, and not worry if it's going to be liked. You've got to like it, and that will come out in the work."

E: What do people like about your art?

AP: I do so many things, it's difficult to know. People like different things. You can fill it in.

E: Okay. First it's the riot of colour, then the beautiful subjects and the textural details. And when you paint women and children, it's in simplified forms -- almost nymphlike.
How do you allow yourself to paint the wrong colours?

AP: Because I put the colour on the canvas first, and I'm not thinking about it. I pull the painting from the canvas. My last negative painting was wild turkeys. I could see trees and thought, "I'd like to paint a turkey."
Sometimes I'll go to the Internet and type in "wild turkey", but I do have a turkey, some chickens and a pony. I've photographed and painted a lot of them. I often go by my photography.
I'm trying to loosen up in my painting. I think it's starting to work.

E: Is that why you do small-scale pieces -- because you include so much detail?

AP: It's because of my lack of room: my so-called studio is a corner of the dining room.

E: Well, it works.
Where else are you exhibiting?

AP: I'm not. I don't get out very much.

E: What do you see for the future of your art?

AP: Heavens! I'm just gonna keep painting and enjoying it as long as I can. I paint every day, non-stop. That's my life, besides looking after the animals.
I love where I am. I love the peace and the animals and the countryside. I'm very thankful for that and to be doing what I enjoy.



Meet Devin Sturgeon.

Elizabeth's Art Gallery: When did you get into art?

Devin Sturgeon: I've been into art my whole life, really. I drew a lot of action figures as a kid, always into He-Man and Universe Warriors. I wasn't so much into photography until my teenage years and never got my first DSLR until three years ago, which is kind of weird.
But I really was attached to my family video camera. That was, in a sense, "my" camera. I used to make a lot of movies with my toys -- random mixed movies with dinosaurs and crash-test dummies -- and add sound effects from video games.

E: What did that bring to your art?

DS: It gave me a sense of storytelling and composing scenes. If there's a type of action going on, I need to show that in the camera angle: it has to lead the viewer somewhere.

E: Why photography?

DS: I like that you can take one image and add to it as much as you want to say or show what you want to communicate. You can get a message out in one image.

E: How did you learn?

DS: I learned from just picking up a camera and going out and taking photos. The technical side I've learned from library books and going online to watch videos by other photographers.

E: What do people love about your work and the way you teach?

DS: I've been told that my work has a lot of texture; I think that means it has a lot of detail. People like the way I compose a photo -- I'm often trying to include people and their emotion in a landscape photo.
I think people like my energy when I teach, my enthusiasm.

E: We like the clarity, the sparkle, the detail, the glow in your work. There's a hyper-real touch to it.

DS: Thank you. I like that.

E: What will your first workshop be like?

DS: I'll do a complete photo shoot with the group and then an edit. The Gallery will print and hang one image each. It will be a half-day adventure. I hope to lightly touch on a bunch of topics. It will be basic, inspirational, motivating... my work in a nutshell.

E: And next?

DS: I want to do a few series of classes: fieldwork; low-budget hacks; nighttime photography; editing tips... there's so much to cover!

View Devin's ever-expanding body of work available as prints here.
Sign up for his "Camera-to-Photo" workshop here.
Head "Into the Lightroom" for Devin's three-night July course here.

Fill in our workshop-interest survey here.
Read about the Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus, here.

This is neither Devin nor a sturgeon.

This is neither Devin nor a sturgeon.


Meet J. Allison Robichaud.

J. Allison Robichaud is one of those intelligent, interesting artists who's as lovely to converse with as his paintings are to look at. His playfully-common subjects, loosely rendered in atmospheric tones and anchored within solid compositions, beg us to linger. So do his "Robichaud-isms", many of which can be found in the books he's penned. When asked if we were interested in exhibiting his works, we couldn't say "Yes, please!" loudly or quickly enough.

Elizabeth's Art Gallery: Your works are wonderfully fresh and loose plein-airs and still-lifes set in beautiful gold frames. How and when did you begin painting?

J. Allison Robichaud: I always wanted to paint from the time I was a kid. When I was in the military at Camp Borden I took a painting course. Well, it was 15 women and me, and when you're in the military, and you're 20-some years old, and you're surrounded by everybody's ideas about all that, how do you continue on with painting? I just couldn't possibly. It became dormant.

The best thing that could have happened to me was when Dow Chemical moved me to Varennes outside of Montreal: one night I was hiding behind a building, trying to do a little painting, and 17 of the best illustrators in Montreal fell on top of me. Two were members of the Royal Canadian Academy -- they really were the best. They were out painting, and they said to me, "We do this every Wednesday night; would you like to join us?"

I said no.

They adopted me and were instrumental in one thing: to make me more determined that I would paint my way.

I had such a hard time... We're out painting, and Bruce le Dain (whose brother is Judge le Dain of the Supreme Court) and Stuart Main -- there they are three-quarters complete, and I haven't even basically started. I'm walking back to my car kicking myself until I realize they're them; I'm me.

Stuart was known by his peers to be one of the best illustrators in Canada. How do you compete with that? You don't.

The nicest compliment I ever had was from Montreal's best freelance illustrator, Larry Paul. We were on the side of the road painting under an electric-blue sky. He asked me, "How do you get that sky colour?"

I answered, "Holbein Colbalt Blue and Blue-Gray," and I showed him how I mix it (I use a lot of Blue-Gray; in the winter I might put in just a touch of manganese).

Anyway, Larry put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Cut the apron strings today."

Best compliment I've ever received. It's a long, hard struggle when you're doing it on your own, but one thing that does happen is you become very uniquely yourself.

E: What did you become?

JAR: I really don't know, to tell you the truth. Despite the fact that you would like to change, you can't change. Your technical competence increases, your colour knowledge deepens, but your art is like your signature: it never changes.

E: Do you always paint en plein air?

JAR: I also do still lifes. But all my landscapes are plein air. It's not fun standing outside in minus-20 weather, but when you get back and you've done a good painting, you've really won over yourself.

E: What are your materials?

JAR: Oil paints, usually on synthetic canvas which, according to the technical people of this world, will last forever and ever.

E: You were born in 1933, and here you are on Facebook with your own website ( How do you feel about that?

JAR: Over the four years I've had my website, I haven't had one person call me from it for a painting or a book, even though an average of 35 people are on my site every day. Facebook? I do it to torment my friends.

E: Do you ever make a thumbnail sketch en plein air then create the final piece in your studio?

JAR: Never. You can't get the freshness from plein air back in the studio again. The great artists will tell you that the freshness is in plein air. In the studio the light never changes, the coffee's ready, there are a thousand and one excuses. You have time to think, to mull over. You can't do that in plein air painting -- sure, you can take moments to step back, see if the composition or colour is right, but that's it.

Plein air -- that's where it all begins and ends.

Speaking of which, to know when to stop is one thing. It takes three guys to make a painting: one to paint, and two with hammers to hit him over the head when it's time to stop.

J. Allison Robichaud: his self portrait; the dedicated artist at work; a fleeting moment captured by his brush.  Click on the pictures to view our gallery of J. Allison's works, available for online purchase.

J. Allison Robichaud: his self portrait; the dedicated artist at work; a fleeting moment captured by his brush.

Click on the pictures to view our gallery of J. Allison's works, available for online purchase.


An interview with David Rankine

Love colouring? Want to learn how to create your own, intricate artworks for colouring? Adventure of the Mandala is the workshop for you, and David Rankine is just the one to lead it. Only $40, it's become the go-to course for time spent with a friend. Don't miss out on this special opportunity...  April 30, 2016!

Elizabeth's Art Gallery: You were born to Scottish parents in a suburb of Toronto. How did this impact your artistic upbringing?

David Rankine: My folks are from Scotland. At age 12 I started playing the bagpipes. I played a lot of bagpipes - in competition, performance and for dance competitions. At this point I was in art school at York U and started to see a connection between the music I was playing and the images I was interested in creating based on early medieval Celtic art. It was less of a cultural connection and more of a connection between rhythm, tempo, melody and image. I started to also see how the same connections are a very human experience. Pattern and structure in sound and pattern and structure in image are closely connected.

E: Your webpage opens with the words, "Welcome to the Healing Journey". What is this journey you're inviting us to? What is it about your art that can facilitate healing?

DR: Healing journey. Hmm... after quite a few years of creating art in my very distinctive style, I started to see how my art was reflecting my inner landscape. I started to experiment with purposely creating art as a way of altering and healing that inner landscape. This led me to explore mandalas and sacred art and their use therapeutic tools. In turn, this led to me developing my skills as an energy healer. My art, music and healing are all now part of the same expression whose central theme is "sacredness through creativity". When we create, we heal. When we co-create, we heal even faster; and in the end it is all about relationships -- with ourselves and with others.

E: The mandala is an Indian symbol of the universe; your colouring books are Celtic-themed. You'll be leading a mandala workshop at the Gallery on April 30 -- what might participants expect of their time spent with you?

DR: Some of my work is Celtic-themed, but only in the detailing of the mandalas. The geometric structure (which is what i teach) is the same as Hindu and Buddhist mandalas and, in fact, the same as mandalas found in other traditions of sacred art across the world. I teach participants how to create sacred space using geometry and harmonious ratios. The detailing of the individual mandala is up to each participant and will reflect their personality/expression. Sounds deep -- and it is; but above all, it is magical and fun.

David Rankine at work.

David Rankine at work.

An Interview with Susan Seitz

Susan is a gifted artist and dedicated friend -- always a welcome face at the Gallery. She'll be here in two weeks, offering a fresh full-day workshop for people who don't yet know the rules of the paintbrush... and those who need to forget them!

Elizabeth's Art Gallery: How do you describe yourself?

Susan Seitz: Someone who is scared shitless about living life ~ experiencing life and expressing my authentic self to the world... and yet, I do it ANYWAYS! Regardless. Without hesitation. With a supersonic smile that fills every inch of my being with JoY which allows my heart to shine with courage and love.  

E: Art occupies a large part of your heart. When did you and Art begin your love affair?

SS: I consider myself a "high-school artist": that is where I realized I could go to a place where no one else existed and disappear into a world filled with colours!!! I had an amazing high-school art teacher who supported and encouraged me every step of the way.

E: You work mostly in acrylics, correct? What is your favourite thing about this medium?

SS: The colours!  :)

E: Your art is beautifully vibrant and currently very multi-layered and textural. Are your paintings telling a story?

SS: The story is in the eyes of the beholder. I find the collectors of my work fall deeply in love with what's in front of them. They find their own stories to connect to and respond to. I facilitate a time and space where I allow myself to express almost in a meditative state. It's a healing ritual for me. Trusting and believing in myself and my abilities without judgement. Without hesitation. Just being with the paintbrush and colours. A beginning and middle and an end. Intuitively creating without attachments or a purpose to portray anything and perhaps revealing everything at the same time... knowing that the painting is truly a story for someone, but not for me ~ waiting for its new home.

E: You are a full-fledged art instructor now, facilitating group sessions at public events, schools and private functions. What is your goal when guiding a painting class?

SS: My goal is to facilitate a belief that there is no such thing as a mistake: we all are perfectly imperfect and when we trust and believe in ourselves, we can all achieve magical things! 

E: How may interested people reach you?

SS: ~ 519-507-2033

Susan is also on Facebook -- give her works a look!

Follow this link to the workshop or click on the image below.

Raku: it's special.


Everything You Never Knew About Raku, and Didn't Know You Didn't Know:

- Raku is a Japanese form of pottery 15 generations old. The name means, "oh man, that's hot!"*
- Raku is made from porous clay that contains a lot of "grog", or pulverized previously-fired pieces. This grog helps the formed piece to withstand thermal shock.
- The clay is hand-shaped, fired in an electric kiln then glazed. Or not glazed -- these pieces are called "naked".
- The piece is set outdoors in a gas kiln. The temperature is quickly raised to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (in an hour). Thermal shock causes cracks in glassy glazes that have been applied.
- While the piece is still glowing molten orange, it is removed from the kiln and then sealed into a "reduction chamber" (aka "pressure cooker") filled with combustible materials like paper or sawdust. The combustibles immediately light, smoking and filling cracks in the glaze with carbon. Metallic glazes reduce, showing randomized colours which depend upon minute atmospheric details at the time of the firing.

* It actually means, "enjoyment", "comfort" or "ease". It's derived from the name Jurakudai, the palace in Kyoto where the art form developed. We think the name caught on so well because the kiln is raised to a relatively low temperature (as pottery goes), or maybe because the pieces were traditionally used in Japanese Tea ceremonies. Nowadays, Raku is a purely ornamental art form.

Every child is an artist.

The most important gift a parent can give their child is love.

Part of that, or maybe #2 on the Most Important Gifts List, is ART!

We believe it. PBS believes it, too. See here!

To briefly unpack this gift, here are just a few of the amazing things ART can do in the life of a child:

- Develop fine motor skills
- Establish critical thinking
- Foster understanding
- Encourage inventiveness
- Build reasoning skills
- Nourish emotional healing
- Elicit language development
- Strengthen academic achievement

and, as if all that isn't enough...

- Create beautiful/messy FUN!

Visit the Gallery to see our picks for children's art supplies!


Get ready for our Annual NOVEMBER CANVAS PRINT SALE!

Everyone has a photo that would look great on a wall. Bring it in this month! We'll scan it, crop it and perform some basic edits to produce a...

16x20 masterpiece, stretched, sealed and ready to hang.

All for only $60

Add a black float frame for only $40

That's a total retail value of $215!

float frame black.jpg

Sale-vember. Canvas-Provember. $60vember. We still haven't come up with a cool name for it -- too busy making beautiful prints. Maybe you've got an idea... please let us know! Not valid on rush orders.  Work for this sale will be completed in December and will be ready by christmas.  Sale includes basic editing such a cropping and tone/value adjustments. Extensive editing such a restoration, object removal, painting stylization, collages also available at an additional cost.

Family Ties


"You must see so many interesting things in here," smiled Pat as she picked up her framing order.

"Yes indeed," I replied. "This is the best place to work!"

Pat's family, like many others, was filled with good men. And those good men, like many others, wore silk neckties. As years passed by and trends changed, the ties were stashed into a pile of unworn colours. Family members passed; memories remained. Daughters were born and raised. The girls' mother -- Pat's sister -- decided to create a tribute with those ties.

Careful plans, folds and stitches transformed silk ties into quilted tapestries. What had once finished the suits of great-grandfathers, a grandfather, a father and an uncle would now serve as a link to the past.

Pat came to us hoping for an attractive frame that would preserve her family treasure.

We chose a midnight-black shadowbox frame with some simple dimension. 1" wide and 1 3/4" deep, it would easily house the quilted work without dwarfing it.

A golden-silk mat made the perfect backdrop for the luminous patterns of the ties. We carefully edged the inner rim of the frame in the same material for a truly special, finished look.

An anti-glare, UV-treated layer of glass provided the final dimension of beautiful protection to this heirloom piece.

Thank you, Pat, for sharing these pieces of your family's story with us. We wish you and yours many more years tied together, framed in love!

Elizabeth's September Session: How to Draw

Does the sight of all these supplies make you clap or cringe? If you've ever wondered what people do with this stuff or what you're capable of drawing, this is the class for you.

Does the sight of all these supplies make you clap or cringe? If you've ever wondered what people do with this stuff or what you're capable of drawing, this is the class for you.

While we all enter the world willing to make a creative mess, it's an all-too-common refrain among adults: "I can't even draw a stick figure." Why is this? Have we forgotten ourselves? Has fear of failure replaced our desire to try? Who even decided drawing stick figures is a prerequisite for artistic prowess, anyway?

We'd love to see everyone walk into the Gallery just the way children do: heads high, they march straight for the drawing table. So intent on creating today's masterpiece, they have to be reminded to consider the works on display around them.

It could happen. All it would take is a little practice.

That's why, in September, Elizabeth is offering the first in a comprehensive series of art instruction. The first round is entitled simply, "How to Draw". Materials and how to use them, form, subject, balance, composition and value -- they're all topics that will be covered in four Tuesday-evening classes.

Elizabeth's teaching style is fun and intelligent, laid back and professional; and her art is a beautiful reflection of that. Previous students have called her workshops, "Inspiring!", "Wonderful!" and even, "Much less painful than I expected!" Take it for what it's worth.

You can click here to sign up for Elizabeth's monthly sessions, or drop by the Gallery any time to browse our selection of art supplies and pick our brains.

Join us! Together, we'll learn how to be like kids again -- maybe a little less messy.

Meet Robert D. Murray.

Born and raised in London, Ontario, Robert spent summers developing a love for Lake Huron. It was a family affair: his great uncle made his home on Pike Bay, Bruce Peninsula, back when Highway 6 was a gravel road.

Robert followed a career path to Cambrian College in Sudbury, where he taught Graphic Design and became co-ordinator of the Visual Arts Department. It was "love at first fight" when he met Julie, a beautiful English and Theatre teacher. The two married, taught, and had two sons.

On holidays, the Murrays would board the Chi-Cheemaun to carry them southward for a bit of civilization. Nowadays, Robert and Julie live in Brampton, within two hours of their two grandsons -- and of the Lake.

Robert will often half-jokingly beg Julie to let them move to Goderich. His paintings of the area ring true with all who love the artful touch he brings to their favourite local scenes.

Today, Robert has brought two lovely paintings of nearby homes. "I didn't care who owns them: they are visual things. I had to paint them," he offers.

We're enthralled with the shimmer Robert has created through the use of bright, contrasting colours within both architecturally-perfect lines and playful, botanical shapes. We're also enthralled with this witty, laid-back couple -- it's always hard to let them go.

When you visit the Gallery, see if you can identify the locales of our two newest exhibit pieces. Even if you don't know their addresses, you'll know where they take you.


Meet Vivian Ripley (and a wonderful way to paint)! And get a discount!


The paintings of Vivian Ripley add a sophisticated yet playful air to our Gallery walls. She chooses a cool, clean palate to depict lush, fluid forms of nature: vibrant flowers, babbling brooks and swaying branches shimmer within shifting shadow and light.

Whether rendered with pastels, watercolours or acrylics, Vivian's distinctive style remains clearly recognizeable. Her masterful way of layering transparent pigments makes you want to tip the frames up and drink the images down.

Vivian is an engaged and sought-out instructor of the arts. We are honoured to host her watercolour-on-gessoed-paper demonstration on June 19 and workshop on July 10-11. You don't want to miss this!

The benefits of this technique are many, thanks to the properties of gesso:
- A pigment-friendly clear or white, it may be tinted before application to set the tone of the whole work;
- A liquid of medium viscosity, it can be applied and manipulated into textures to add depth and interest;
- Less absorbent than paper, it offers the chance to wipe off wet or dry paint that has been applied; and,
- Opaque and water-soluble, it may be thinned or applied in coats to partially or completely cover previous work.

Vivian's demo and workshop offer the newbie painter, as well as the seasoned artist, a fresh and demystifying take on watercolours. It's the perfect class for anyone -- take it yourself or give it as a gift!

Register for the demo by June 19 for 10% off the workshop... click here!

What do you give the woman who gave you everything?

For all of the time, money and energy she spent...

For every hug, kiss, tickle fight and back rub in the middle of the night, on her lunch break, during book club or at another of your biweekly practice sessions...

For noodles without sauce, eggs with dippy yolks,

Balloon strings without knots and birthday parties without clowns...

For every beach trip, bubble bath, bout of the flu and back-yard burial...

You can't possibly repay your mom!

But that doesn't mean you can't pick out a little something special to say, "I see you."

Maybe she likes blue birds, or is working to save the bees, or still has that sweater you gave her for Christmas in her drawer because she doesn't have the right necklace to wear with it. Or maybe she needs nothing more than some heartfelt words written inside a lovely card.

Come on by and check out our giftables. We're moms; we know what moms like.

...Bet she'll keep it forever!