Checking out the art process at PHAC

Joan Switzer and Hugh Gilchrist (and their art) were at the Pembina Hills Arts Council on Feb. 8 as part of the gallery’s ‘In the Studio’ art demonstrations, which run throughout the month. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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Pembina Hills Arts Council is giving residents a chance to explore behind the scenes of how art is made during the month of February by offering live art demos at the gallery.

Administrative coordinator Laurie Wiebe came up with the idea after discussing it with some artists in the area. “I really enjoy watching people work, especially because I don’t paint,” she said. “It’s something that is kind of a mystery to me. The idea was opening up the gallery to be a working studio to give other people a chance to actually see artists working, talk to them and get a better sense of what is involved and maybe take the fear out of it as well.”

Wiebe said the artists that are participating were supportive of the idea. “One of the recurring feedbacks I get is it’s nice for them to be able to work in a different environment,” she said. “They’re usually very solitary, they’re in their own studios, so it makes things a little bit more sociable. We’ve got so many artists in the area.”

Joan Switzer and Hugh Gilchrist were at the gallery on Feb. 8 to work on their art and share the process with the community.

Both Switzer and Gilchrist said their art is more recreational.

“I started painting, and I still paint, for fun and recreation and something to do in retirement,” Switzer said. “I started out doing a little bit of anything and everything just to learn and I have decided I would like to do landscape and perhaps local prairie landscape.”

Right now, Switzer is working on learning to paint different types of trees and said she plans to continue her art for fun.

The two draw a lot of inspiration from the nature around them. “I grew up on the prairies and I’m kind of familiar with that,” Gilchrist said.

“I lived and grew up on a farm,” Switzer added. “That’s what you know, so I guess that’s why I’m painting it.”

Switzer and Gilchrist both paint regularly at the Morden Activity Centre as well. “Normally I have a studio at home, but I like to get out and mix and mingle with people,” Gilchrist said. “You learn from that, and you can also help somebody else if they are particularly doing your type of paintings.”

The group that paints Friday morning at the Activity Centre is a casual one. Gilchrist and Switzer said it’s a good way to get out and get some support and feedback on their art.

Switzer said it was intimidating the first day she brought her work to the gallery, but that feeling went away fast. “I would invite anyone who is interested in art to come and join us and to come and support the art gallery here,” she said. “They do a lot of work. There’s a lot of interesting things going on.”

Wiebe said some of the demos haven’t been as well attended because of the bitter cold temperatures, but said that those who have come by have enjoyed themselves.

The demos run all through the month with the last day being on Feb. 28. A schedule of upcoming artists can be found on their website at www.pembinahillsarts.com/exhibit.

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