Renowned watercolour exhibition comes to Alberta
Mill artist Marlene Madole works on her ongoing watercolour series “First Fruits”. Madole will present a painting demonstration at the Leighton Arts Centre on Saturday.
By Tamara Neely
staff reporter Western Wheel newspaper
Back in the 1920s two of Canada’s legendary painters were worried watercolour paintings could disappear from the contemporary art scene.
Today watercolour painters across Canada are continuing the annual exhibition that A.J. Casson and Franklin Carmichael, members of the Group of Seven, started 84 years ago.
For the first time in the history of the exhibition the watercolour show will be hosted in Alberta. The Leighton Art Centre is hosting the 84th annual Open Water exhibition until Oct. 24 and the opening reception takes place on Saturday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.
The Open Water exhibit has earned an international reputation and painters from Belgium, Singapore and various states of the United States of America have entered their works for consideration in the show.
This year there were 300 entries from across Canada and the world and the jury selected only 65 to exhibit and of those, 30 are from Alberta.
“It’s phenomenal that so many from the province are included in the show,” said Brampton, ON resident Marlene Madole, an organizer of show.
Madole is past president of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, which is the society Casson, Carmichael and their contemporaries started in 1925.
In some circles watercolours have the reputation of being the start to an art piece, not a work of art in its own right, Madole said.
“I don’t think the contemporary Canadian gallery scene shows watercolours – it’s infrequent,” said Madole. “(In Casson and Carmichael’s time) watercolour was seen as a preliminary sketch, a field study, only a stage to a finished work in another media.”
The society aims to trumpet the talent of watercolour painters and the Open Water exhibition is open to members of all ages and all levels of experience.
“The exhibition is to showcase the best of watercolour of each year in Canada,” said Madole. “We can find very young, new contemporary artists to encourage along their career path.”
This weekend there are several events at the Leighton centre coinciding with the launch of the Open Water exhibition.
On Friday, Sept. 11 artist and author Terry Fenton will give a talk on the history of English watercolour tradition in western Canada, with wine and cheese. The event runs from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. and costs $22.
On Saturday, Sept.12 Madole will demonstrate her technique of portraying light and colour, using a series she has been working on called “First Fruits”.
“I’ll be painting a variety of plums from my Dad’s orchard. They’re on the trees, so there’s all this oblique light –they’re backlit sometimes – and bounce light. So the colours of the leaves bounce onto the plums,” said Madole.
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