October 1, 2021

A Net Full of Holes


What is your very first memory?

What if it wasn't true?

What if WHO you are is based on lies-okay so not lies but mistruths and faulty memories?

This is what I'm thinking about right now. 

Shortly after I closed up shop at the end of June, ready to head out into the garden for the summer, I received an email from a gallery curator asking me to participate in a show next April. 

You may recall (or not - here's the link) my answer to question 9 ("Describe THE thing that would make you think 'I've made it'") in 10 Questions for Artists was "A gallery owner that comes to ME and asks for a solo show. Yep. That'd pretty much be nirvana for me."

If you ever doubted for one minute that The Universe is always listening, trying to help you out? Let this be a gentle nudge to say, "Yes. Yes it is!" Thoughts become things, my friend. And lest you get all hot under the collar saying, "Yah. Well, Jen. I've wanted to earn a million dollars (big house, fancy job etc etc) and it hasn't happened!" a couple of hints/tips:

  1. Write that shit down! A cloudy, ill fleshed-out, fleeting, passing thought isn't the easiest thing to manifest. Writing it down helps YOU articulate exactly what you want. 
  2. Sometimes what you receive doesn't end up looking exactly how you thought it might. Likely you weren't completely clear in your own head OR The Universe has something else planned for you. Patience Grasshopper. Go back to #1. Refine. Hone. Get more specific. It will happen. This I know.

Anyway. So of course I said YES. And then put it on the back burner as I went outside for the summer. Fast forward a few months and I'm starting to think about the show and its loose theme of "the past" or memory.

Recently, I was reading "Sweetland" by Michael Crummey and came across this passage:

"He hated confronting those lost moments, being presented with some deail from his past and having to look on it like a stranger. It made his life feel like a made-up thing. A net full of holes."

It landed. Hard.

I've always had a very, VERY good memory. Conversations decades old, word for word, childhood situations, people, faces, names. I was the family historian. "Just ask Jen" was the go to around our house. Then I read a study suggesting our memories are not as good as we think they are and that some psychologists believe we may even make things up as time goes on. THAT gave me pause. If what I remember isn't accurate - or worse, completely fabricated - it truly does make "life feel like a made-up thing". A net full of holes, indeed.

I find the whole idea fascinating. What defines us? Which memories make us who we are? Where is the line? What would you have to find out that wasn't real (or was!) to sit you on your butt, to readjust your sense of self? Some memories are sweet but never made themselves building blocks of your persona. Others are integral to creating who we are. Matthew McConaughey relates a story where he thought he'd won a contest as a child only to find out years later he was only runner-up. Pretty sure he didn't retire to his bed moaning "What IS true?!?" even though the mistruth of winning likely had a huge impact on who he became. And does it even matter? Say I found out that I wasn't actually perceived as "the family historian"; would that change my feelings about myself? My position in our family? (Note: VERY possibly!) Which of course leads down that brambly path of what IS real, anyway?!? 

I sure would love to hear what you think. How you would answer the two questions: 

What are your defining childhood memories?

What if they weren't true? 

Comment here, on Instagram or shoot me a DM or email. I sure would appreciate it!

July 2, 2021

In the garden

Wednesday's 10 Questions for Artists was the tenth and final installment for this series. I may revisit it in the fall, so if you'd like to join in, let me know.

This also marks the beginning of my hiatus on posts and published artmaking. I'll be focussed on my garden, swimming in the lake (well, sitting in my floatie) and taking a media break until September.

I'm sure there will be a photo or two posted on Instagram so be sure to follow me there, if you aren't already.

A big thank you to all the artists who took time out of their busy schedules to answer my 10 Questions.

See all y'all in the Fall!

June 30, 2021

Julie Rosvall - 10 Questions for Artists

If you've been around the Nova Scotian arts and crafts community for any length of time, you will recognize Julie's name. But it wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered HER work. And I gotta say, sorry Julie, I didn't quite get what she was doing. Was she a knitter? A printmaker? What were all these spidery things on paper anyway?!? And then Julie posted a series of process videos on Instagram which made me sit up and really take notice. They were DAYS in the making. And that's just the prints! That isn't taking into account the time to create the intricate lacey shawls. There is something about a complicated, time consuming 'start to finish' process that woos and inspires me. Perhaps it speaks to my back-to-the-land/homesteading soul that feeds my need to know and do #allthethings but suddenly those "spidery things on paper" were making me swoon. Someday, I hope to be able to create a body of work as personal and intricate and so obviously laboured over with love and in the meantime, I'll be watching from the sidelines cheering Julie on. Enjoy her answers to 10 Questions for Artists.

1. Favourite artist. Living or dead.

I have always wanted to create texture on paper using knitted samples.  I have obsessed about it, and researched every option available to me.  I thought for some time that I would simply create a relief of the fabric on plain paper, no ink.  I was then introduced to Betty Goodwin, a fabulous artist, whose notebooks alone were breathtaking, and whose printmaking nearly brought me to tears.  She printed anything, gloves, hats, vests, shirts, tarps, even unwrapped packages went through her press to make a soft ground impression, etching the plate and then printing and manipulating the images. Upon seeing her exhibition at the Dalhousie Art Gallery I immediately began work on knitted samples to create my own prints.

2. What's one thing in your studio you REALLY should throw out?

I am most definitely never going to make it as a minimalist, so there are probably a few things that should go.  I did a purge of old newsprint proofs from my flat files this past winter, burning them to start the studio wood stove each morning in January, very satisfying.  And while I don’t think I’d ever throw it away, I do have a General Electric antique metal enamelled rotary ironer that I found on spring cleanup day a few years ago, it should probably go to a good home, if only to make space for my next found treasure.

3. Best studio snack. (creative nutrition is important!)

Right now it is most definitely fresh Annapolis Valley sugar snap peas, better than candy.

4. Favourite studio smell.

With Zoom meetings being so prevalent this past year I’ve made a habit of keeping fresh flowers in the background of video calls, normally the cheap tulips from the grocery store that really don’t smell like anything.  This week I cut some wild roses as I rushed to get ready for an online meeting.  The sweet smell the next time I walked up the stairs was a pleasant surprise.

5. Least favourite studio smell.

I use soft ground, an asphaltum and beeswax mixture, to coat my copper plates.  I use a hot plate to warm the copper, and apply the soft ground, there is a point if you leave the plate on too long that the ground starts to bubble and smell.  The smell itself isn’t that bad, it’s knowing that you have to start again, degreasing the plate, and applying the ground from the beginning.

6. Most used art related app on your phone.

Obviously Instagram has had a great impact on finding inspiration, tips from fellow artists, and sharing work, but before that comes the camera.  Before digital photography I used to use the prepaid processing film from the Superstore, which always came with double prints, so in drawers and boxes around my studio and house there are thousands of blurry photos, usually with at least one or two pet pictures from the end of each roll because you didn’t want to waste them on something important, just in case the count was off (maybe that’s what I should have said I REALLY should throw out). Digital photography has made it possible to capture as many images as you’d like without the fear of cost or waste.  Now if only I could learn to delete more of them.

7. Top song in your studio.

I am a fan of Sarah Harmer, but honestly I rarely play music in the studio.  I mostly listen to CBC Radio 1, if anything at all these days.  I’ve found as time goes by I’m distracted by background noise.

8. Favourite art-related author, podcast(er), YouTuber.

As a knitter a stitch dictionary is integral part of my life, there is always one nearby.  The one I use the most, and love is Barbara G. Walker  A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.  If we want to add in aesthetics, Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns, first published in 1943 is my favourite.  It has a woven linen cover, and the hand drawn illustrations of charts and knitted fabric are detailed and beautiful.

If you’re looking for a couple of good local to Nova Scotia podcast/video projects, through my role at Craft Nova Scotia I recently worked with Duane Jones of Art Pays Me to create a mini series of Craft Pays Me podcasts.  And with former broadcaster Crystal Garrett I pulled together a series of video matinee’s that feature check ins with the six craftspeople who were part of the Craft Nova Scotia / Craft Alliance Atlantic documentary series Life’s Work back in 2015.  We shared each of the documentaries and Crystal caught up with the craftspeople to see where they are now.  You can find all of the videos on the Craft Nova Scotia Facebook page.

9. Least favourite part of art-making.

Finding the time and energy.  Unfortunately the way that my quirky body works no matter how much mental energy I have for something, my body doesn’t always agree, so carving out time when I don’t need to worry about other personal or professional obligations can be a challenge.  So I tend to work in spurts, mid winter and late summer are the times when Craft Nova Scotia work is the quietest, so I can focus on the studio.  Covid has certainly changed that a lot, so we shall see what the future brings.

10. Describe THE thing that would make you think: "I've Made It."

I’ve sat in rooms with many craftspeople over the years, and have learned that for almost every one of them as soon as you reach THE thing, it suddenly becomes irrelevant and the target moves ahead.  I used to think it was when someone bought one of my prints, but then when that happened it didn’t count because the person knew me, so it had to be when someone I didn’t know bought one.  When that happened I moved on to when I had my first solo exhibition, or got my first grant, but as those things happened, the goal moved once again.  Hopefully that just means that I’m learning and growing as a craftsperson.

More about Julie:

Born in New Brunswick, Julie Rosvall moved to Nova Scotia in 1998, settling in Wolfville, the home community of Mary E. Black, for whom the province’ craft focused public gallery is named. Julie had just begun weaving before making the move and immediately sought out and found master weaver Jackie Mackay’s studio and gallery Summer House. Julie spent much of 1999 volunteering at Mackay’s gallery, with the intention being to apprentice as a weaver in exchange. Unfortunately, Jackie Mackay became ill and passed away soon after. Julie’s first spinning wheel was one given to her by Jackie’s family. It was then that Rosvall began her career as a textile artist, moving from weaving to spinning and finally to knitting.

In 2010 she began experimenting with printmaking, exploring the concept of transferring the patterns and textures of textiles to other media.

Rosvall has always had an interest in mark making on paper, and for many years envisioned using textiles to emboss paper. After seeing the work of printmaker Betty Goodwin in 2010 Julie was inspired to explore soft ground etchings with her knitted swatches. Through her explorations she has created a body of work that uses a variety of printmaking techniques to transfer her knitted swatches to paper.

When she is not in the studio Julie Rosvall is an advocate for the crafts community, and has worked for Craft Nova Scotia in some capacity since 2003.

Website: www.inkpaperpress.ca
Social Media: @shipstondesigns
Gallery: Iterations Show

Thanks Julie!

Interested in joining in 10 Questions for Artists?

Email or message me and I'll send you the details!

June 23, 2021

Susan Black - 10 Questions for Artists

I started following Susan on Instagram...found on the Bread Crumb Trail, I think... and because I wanted to be Mary Englebreit in a past life, it was the graphic (design) nature of Susan's work which really appealed to me. I love her use of colour, repeated pattern, her nature-based themes but it was her honest writing about what this whole (insert swirly hand motion here) "A(a)rt Thing" means that made me a dedicated follower (be sure to check out her ebook Creative Confidence). Another local artist 'I have yet to meet', I'm thrilled to bits that Susan agreed to answer my 10 Questions for Artists. 

1. Favourite artist. Living or dead.

First I couldn't possibly pick just one but I'll try and narrow it down to just a few and secondly I tend to be most inspired by contemporary female painters, all of them found on Instagram. My current short list of favourites are as follows:

Anna Hymas
Laci Fowler
Lulie Wallace
Rosa Roberts
Jo Faulkner
Margaret Jeane

2. What's one thing in your studio you REALLY should throw out?

So, SO many things - in fact I have slated for this summer a massive purge of studio stuff, I'm aiming to remove 50% (including furniture) . I have nowhere to work and spread out and I've lost track of way too many tools. "I know I have a [fill in the blank] somewhere, but I don't know where". Top of the list to throw out: dried out tubes of paint and dead pens and markers.

3. Best studio snack. (creative nutrition is important!)

I'm with Katie Cahill on this question. Sugar is a common ingredient, anything from milk chocolate (never dark), gummy candy, bubble gum. I have a secret stash of dollar store bad stuff in a big drawer in my desk.

4. Favourite studio smell.

My studio doesn't really have many smells good or bad

5. Least favourite studio smell.

(same as above)

6. Most used art related app on your phone.

I don't have a cell phone (I've never had one). I also have Instagram on a cheapo Samsung tablet, and Adobe Creative Cloud on my desktop imac. I use Photoshop (image editing) and InDesign (pdfs) almost every day. I recently purchased an ipad so that I could learn how to use Procreate. It's an incredible program and I find myself lately working on quite complex monochromatic drawings in Procreate - my new Netflix companion.

7. Top song in your studio.

I prefer chatter to music and am a big fan of competitive baking or cooking shows (Britains Best Bakery, Great British or Great Canadian Baking Show, Top Chef, Master Chef ...), true crime podcasts and occasionally non fiction audio books borrowed from the library.

8. Favourite art-related author, podcast(er), YouTuber.

I'm currently quite obsessed with Alice Sheridan and Louise Fletcher (both UK based abstract painters) and their fantastic podcast Art Juice plus their individual youtube channels. I've recently become a member of Alice's Connected Artist membership, which opens twice a year, and I'm so thrilled that I joined. It's an incredible resource of content and camaraderie - just exactly what I needed to feel less overwhelmed by this creative journey.

Art Juice podcast
Alice Sheridan (youtube)
Louise Fletcher (youtube)
Alice Sheridan Connected Artist

9. Least favourite part of art-making.

Self doubt and confusion. Continually trying to answer seemingly unanswerable questions "who am I as an artist ?, what am I doing ? what is the meaning or purpose of what I'm doing ? I had 5 years of "conceptual art" based education at NSCAD (late 80s), though fantastic in many ways all these years later it's still messing with my head.

10. Describe THE thing that would make you think: "I've Made It."

Two things. First, making a comfortable living would mean BIG time success to me. The second, and perhaps forever elusive, is to feel contented with the work I'm making, job satisfaction is an ongoing goal under that "I've made it" umbrella.

More about Susan:

I'm an artist/illustrator (former graphic designer) living in a small coastal town in Nova Scotia, Canada. I love growing things, cooking, reading, and going for lots of walks. I'm passionate about libraries, cats, colour, pattern, and flowers. After a creative career spanning 30+ years (graphic design, product design, illustration, art licensing) I find myself currently on a journey of discovery trying to transition between commercial art and fine art (painting/mixed media). A journey I find both exhilarating and extremely frustrating.

Website: https://www.susanblackart.com Instagram: @susanblackart

Thanks, Susan!

Interested in joining in 10 Questions for Artists?

Email or message me and I'll send you the details!

June 16, 2021

Kim Floyd - 10 Questions for Artists

I first became aware of Kim's work through Argyle Fine Art Gallery's Pre-Shrunk Show a few years ago. At that time Kim was painting everyday things...nostalgic food and food products, toys, dresses.  Then she seemed to slip off the radar a bit but when she returned was making these abstracted landscapes of familiar Nova Scotia haunts. The simplicity of these pieces belies the fact of how very difficult it is to know when to STOP while still capturing the essence of a place. Plus her colour choices only enhance the pared down scapes. Love them! And I'm super grateful Kim was able to answer 10 Questions for Artists.

Blushing Sky, Winter Lake by Kim Floyd

1. Favourite artist. Living or dead.

This one is hard because there are so many favourites. But the truth is, right now, without a doubt my favourite artist is a painter named Ben Reeves. I think he lives in Vancouver and I only discovered his work on Instagram. The work is beautiful and speaks of solitude and childhood and the work looks magical and fun to make.

2. What's one thing in your studio you REALLY should throw out?

I should throw out the old cans of food that are out of date to eat that used to be my subject matter.

3. Best studio snack. (creative nutrition is important!)

I do not eat in the studio. But I do drink decaf orange pekoe tea with milk (I have a not so good relationship with caffeine) and sometimes I have a fizzy water.

4. Favourite studio smell.

I love the smell of art supplies, art classes and art school. But by far the nicest smell is Chinese ink. When I taught art for a while, the kids did not like the smell and I couldn’t comprehend at all.

5. Least favourite studio smell.

I don’t like the smell of frisket. I don’t use it much but it smells strong. It’s basically if you want to keep an area white or a colour in a watercolour you can paint it on, let it dry and paint without losing that colour. You just rub it off and put the bits in the trash.

Two Trees at Crystal Crescent Beach by Kim Floyd

6. Most used art related app on your phone.

 Instagram and Sketch 

7. Top song in your studio. 

 I love the album Mermaid Avenue. I love every song. How the written words found by Woody Guthrie’s daughter were put to music by Billy Bragg and Wilco is an interesting idea to me.

8. Favourite art-related author, podcast(er), YouTuber.

I think the women in Art Juice have a good podcast and I find Laura Boswell, a printmaker, is a very generous Youtuber. I think Drawing on The Right Side of the Brain is an excellent book.

9. Least favourite part of art-making.

Stopping haha...seriously...once I can get in there the time flies but I don’t like stopping but when you have a lot of responsibilities you have to.

10. Describe THE thing that would make you think: "I've Made It."

I don’t think I have any idea what that would be now. At one point in my life, I thought I had reached something like that. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and made me feel stuck. I think it’s more important to keep working. I need to follow my own intuition regarding what and how I desire to paint. 

More about Kim:  

I am in a group show entitled “Sky and Water” in June at the Ice House Gallery which is part of The Grace Jollymore Arts Centre in Tatamagouche.

Kim Floyd is an acrylic and watercolour painter inspired by the natural world and her own imagination. She was born in Ottawa and went to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in the mid 90s where she received her BFA in 1997.

Website: https://flyingmackerelstudio.com/ Instagram: @kimfloydpaint

Thanks Kim!

Crystal Crescent Wave by Kim Floyd
Interested in joining in 10 Questions for Artists?

Email or message me and I'll send you the details!

June 9, 2021

Anne Weeks - 10 Questions for Artists

Anne and I connected as we are both owned by our Jacks. And though we live within half an hour of each other we have yet to meet face to face. Such are the vagaries of life online. Anne has a honed eye for capturing everyday visuals and turning them into something exceptional. Our scenic province is not lacking for photos of seascapes, pretty coastal towns and abundant nature but Anne takes these things and brings out the subtle nuances and details. But it is her play with shape and colour with which I am particularly smitten. Someday Anne, we WILL meet and I'm stoked you answered my 10 Questions for Artists.

1. Favourite artist. Living or dead. 

 Photographer Robert Creamer

2. What's one thing in your studio you REALLY should throw out? 

Oil paints - I will never be an oil painter.

3. Best studio snack. (creative nutrition is important!)

President's Choice peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets (I am obsessed).

4. Favourite studio smell.

I love the smell of gallery board.

5. Least favourite studio smell.

Mod Podge.


6. Most used art related app on your phone.

Instagram is my first love

7. Top song in your studio.

Anything Joni Mitchell inspires my internal spirit.

8. Favourite art-related author, podcast(er), YouTuber.

I can't say I have a favourite author/podcast, but I am fascinated by drone photography and follow several NS droners. I have been collecting their photos for a while and dream of using them to inspire abstract paintings and mixed media.

9. Least favourite part of art-making.

My least favourite part is when so many people love a photo I have taken, and I actually think it's a boring piece and when I take a photo I am thrilled with and no one gives it a second glance.

10. Describe THE thing that would make you think: "I've Made It."

Every time a widely known photographer reacts positively to one of my pieces, I feel as though I can actually call myself an artist and my maker space, small as it is, a studio.   

More about Anne:

Anne Macleod Weeks is a photographer and writer on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. She is a fifth generation Nova Scotian who was raised in the US.

Anne's work can be found in the Lunenburg Art Gallery, The Point General, and in many local shows. She has been published widely in professional journals and had her first flash fiction piece accepted into an anthology.


Thanks so much, Anne!

Interested in joining in 10 Questions for Artists?

Email or message me and I'll send you the details!
All Rights Reserved . JJ Worden . emerge