Monday, December 1, 2008

Oils by Margaret Lindsay Holton - PART I. The Use of 'Form'

Cross-Country Skiing in Collingwood (SOLD)

Centre Road, Carlisle (SOLD)

Winter in Little Italy, Toronto

Windbreakers in Winter, Flamborough County, Ontario

Ice hut thru an Ice hut

True North

The Passage, Georgian Bay

Sugar Shack, Freelton

Outport, Newfoundland

To the Open, Georgian Bay, Lake Huron

NB: If you are interested in any of these items,
please contact the artist & mention the title of the work ...

Two Peas in a Pod

Moonbeam, Lake Ontario

The Wave, Lake Ontario
(inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe)

Black Power

A little personal essay about WHY and HOW I PAINT ...

First and foremost, I am SELF-TAUGHT, so, the ‘journey’ in and thru my ‘art world’ is very much driven by what resonates with me. I’ve gone at the whole thing in my own way, sometimes back asswards, sometimes charging full ahead. It works for me. As an example, I started to paint using oil paints when I was 14. I could not draw in the 'Beaux Art' style, but I WANTED to paint, so I did. Those early forays are pretty crude in retrospect, but they do remain ‘true’ to my evolving thoughts and feelings of that time. Oils are a robust and luxurious medium. Water-based acrylic paints are ‘weak’ in comparison.

The two ‘artistic’ components that have most influenced my development as a painter are a) the delineation of ‘form’, [see above post], and b) the use of colour.[see below post]. In ‘form’, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky hooked me first with his superb abstract constructions, and then by his thought-provoking writings about the spiritual in art. His sense of balance, proportion and ‘object resonance’ continue to beguile to this day. I softened some of his ‘sparse’ angularity by studying the works of Americans Georgia O’Keeffe & Milton Avery and Canadians Lawren Harris & Mendelson Joe. Those four artists exhibit a generosity of spirit that is often missing from the exquisite heady tartness of Kandinsky’s paintings. In the colour department, I was profoundly moved early on by the works of the Fauves, the French Impressionists and Austrian-born Friedensreich Hundertwasser. There is such JOY in their paintings. Later, the German-American Wolf Kahn amplified my colour sense. Cumulatively, ALL these artists have influenced my own painterly evolution.

I did finally learn how to draw in the ‘realist’ manner, (...see my Pencil Portaits on this site...), because I had to when I was designing and producing Canadian Fine Furniture for 14 years during the 1980’s and early 90’s. A quarter inch miscalculation in fine furniture design can devastate a piece of furniture. Precision and accuracy are paramount in that discipline. To enhance my ‘copying’ capabilities, I self-studied the techniques outlined by Dr. Betty Edwards, in her enlightening book, ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.’ The results were astounding. I continue to work at gaining a greater Mastery of the fluid connection between my Eye, Hand and Mind when I draw with a pencil. HOWEVER, I have never found that this form of ‘realism’ adequately captures the ESSENCE of what it is that I am after when I paint. So, I stay away from photographic-like ‘realism’ in that arena and focus instead on what moves me internally. My MIND fusing with my HEART is the Power behind my oil works.

Today, I paint in my own unique style, often termed, 'naive-surreal-folk-abstract' . I believe this ‘style’ (buffered by the above noted influences) is a NATURAL FRUITION of my very rooted sensibility to this spot on the planet at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.

I have been very lucky to have grown up in the Golden Horseshoe Region of Southern Ontario, Canada. I have been equally as lucky to have had early exposure to the majesty and mystery of the northern lake district known as Georgian Bay on the north shore of Lake Huron, (one of The Great Lakes situated in the heart of the North American continent.) Both those very real, very tangible natural environments, have had a HUGE impact on my evolution. They exist deep within my psyche (regardless that I lived in Toronto for 20 odd years and have quixotically travelled the world in fits and starts…). NATURE, as a result, has always been my guide, teacher and inspiration. The Natural World, here, at my doorstep, is really my ‘religion’ if you will.

The planet is a mysterious & beautiful place. And yes, I am proudly 'canajun' ...

The representative works on this site have been painted over the course of 35 years. Most of these works, and others in my inventory, are available for purchase, either as originals, or in reproduction. Please do contact me if interested. Prices range from $800 (for ‘sketches’) to $15,000 (for LARGE completed works). The median price is currently nudging $6-8,000 CDN, for framed mid-sized pieces. (Kindly note: If you buy from me, you will not be paying the 40% dealer/gallery mark-up that is customary in the ‘commercial art world’. ) I go solo. It works best for me. For now.

I hope you will enjoy my paintings. Your thoughts are always welcome.

p.s. Throughout 2009, I will be posting, alongside my pinhole and digital fine art photo works, examples of my soft & oil pastels, plus additional pencil landscape sketches. ... Might be BEST to bookmark or 'google alert' this site …I will be starting out the New Year with a selection of wacky 'loony lindsay' 'FRACTALS'...
Swan Lake (SOLD)

Oils by Margaret Lindsay Holton - PART II. The use of 'colour' ...

Summer Breeze No.2

Cootes Paradise

Bailey's Brow, Lake Ontario

Fox Bay, Georgian Bay (SOLD)

Hot Rocks, Georgian Bay

Moose Meet
(inspired by Frederick Remington)

End of an Era: Gus & The Blue Spruce

A Paint Poem: To Lawren Harris

Mountsberg, Ontario

North Shore, Lake Superior

Global Warming, Nunavut

NB: If you are interested in any of these items,
contact the artist & mention the title of the work...

Hecate Strait thru a Porthole, British Columbia

Oils by Margaret Lindsay Holton - PART IIII. Fusion of Form & Colour ...

Pre Dawn


Over the Hill, Under the Moon, Back to the Pond

Pond Rush


Killarney, Ontario

Quartz Rib, Georgian Bay

The Wash, Newfoundland

Under the Escarpment, Ontario

10th Concession, Flamborough Farm, Ontario

Bovine Bliss (SOLD)

To the Farm ...

So, wadja think? Good, bad, indifferent?
Your feedback is ALWAYS welcome ...

If interested in any of the above original oil paintings, please contact me for particulars re: size & price. Please supply the title of the image. If interested in a SIGNED & DATED reproduction print, on various papers in various sizes, let me know. The above is only a very small selection of what I do ...

Note: My lakeside studio is open By Appointment ONLY. Thank you.

Most Recent Oils - by Margaret Lindsay Holton, Signed & Dated, December -2008


'The Lantern'

WHY 'naive-surreal-folk-abstracts'?

... I have been asked to elucidate this further ... so here goes ...

My art studies and work experiences have always been counter-balanced to my great love of the landscape of this part of the planet, known as the nation or country of Canada. My artwork increasingly reflects my self-professed and uniquely Canadian art style, dubbed 'naive-surreal-folk-abstract'.

This expression was first coined during an unpublished 'interview' with Gary Michael Dault, art critic for the Globe & Mail, Canada's national newspaper, way back in the early 1980's. He had asked me to describe what 'school' I subscribed to, or, graduated from. I told him I was not a follower or graduate of any art school, but rather, I had always just learned by doing ... He went over and stood in front of one of my larger paintings, 'considered the piece', and then spewed out the adjectives ... 'naive-surreal-folk-abstract' ... And that stuck.

That full mouthful phrase, 'naive-surreal-folk-abstract', does aptly describe much of the why, how and content of many of my art pieces.

Naive describes two observances - 1) we, as 'Canadians', are kind of politically 'naive' within the larger global context. Meaning, we are well-fed, contented and a fundamentally peaceful people unlike 90% of the rest of the world ... And 2) 'naive' describes my technique, in part. Meaning, as much as I do appreciate the rigor and discipline of the Beaux Art 'school', that technique is, I believe, at odds with current interpretations of TIME & SPACE (something I concluded during my many years of fine furniture designing & making). Within the Canadian context, simplicity is an effective and preferred anecdote to deliberately obfuscating sophistry. Immediacy & impact is attained with direct symbol projection. WE don't LIKE overly complicated 'things' ...

The choice of 'surreal' in the phrase reflects again our shared Canadian 'reality' within the larger global arena. First off, we are the first T.V. Generation. Think about that. Televisions entered our homes in the 50's. (When I was born.) This mass-media machine has irrevocably altered the way in which we perceive the world and ourselves within it. Tell-a-vision is, by definition, a disjointed, highly edited & stylized, 'advertising narrative'. It has increasingly become the bedrock of our imaginations and myth-making capabilities. It directs much of what we think. It even defines us as a 'nation state'. It has also made it increasingly difficult to express honest heart-felt individual sentiment beside the multi-million dollar 'tell-a-vision' extravaganzas of Hollywood, or Bollywood. There is NO ESCAPING their now dominating 'visions'. Consider the movies, 'Star Wars' or 'Titanic', they are embedded in our pysches. Unlike, say, our FIRST memories of a winter snowfall or an autumnal bonfire under gray skies ... It is this distortion of MEMORY within the framework of Real TIME & SPACE that is 'surreal' to my mind. This observance is most evident when someone says, 'It was just like being in a movie ... '

Which leads to the third word in the phrase, 'naive-surreal-folk-abstract'. My overall desire is to document & reiterate the values that now seem so often eschewed by 'academic' artists (aka 'commercial corporate' artists). My greater desire is to honour & preserve home-spun grassrooot observances of creation/destruction & natural beauty. Critics often refer to this as 'folksy'. I remember Ken Thomson, famed Canadian art collector, once sincerely remarking that my work was 'sweet'. Yes, it can be interpreted as such, at times.

And YET, my work can also be hard-edge or 'abstract'. It is abstract because it seems increasingly 'abstract' today to focus on the REAL world and to derive meaning & joy from NATURAL subject matter.

Alternatively, I suppose, one might call what I do - 'protest' or even 'outsider' art. I certainly seem unable to engage in emulating the media-simulated artificial environments that 'surround sound' us daily. I seem to resist being 'cyber-cyborg-ized'. (... and yes, irony of this posted blog is duly noted ...) I resist. RESIST. And PREFER, instead, - 'The JOYS of Nature'.

I do know that my subject matter is, in totality, this wondrous planet. And as such, my painting explorations & meditations are often suggestive of larger issues that currently challenge or threaten our species chances of survival.

If we destroy the land, the air, the water, we destroy ourselves. To my mind, this is a very straight-forward observation & equation.

We are 'Caretakers' of the Planet,
as much as the Planet is OUR Caretaker.

It's also been suggested that this kind of thinking is 'native' in essence. It could be. Maybe that's why I often refer to my Self as 'canajun' - instead of 'Canadian'.

To be sure, 'we' are ALL 'works-in-progress'.

I hope this has helped explain why I paint 'naive-surreal-folk-abstracts'. And I will likely return to this and comment further later.

Your remarks are always welcome ...

The Painting Process ...

I thought I'd give you all an example of how I go about painting my signature 'naive-surreal-folk-abstracts'. There are bascially two methods. The first is inspired by a 'real' moment in time & space, and the second method is something conjured up from the depths of my memory & imagination ...

An example of the first method, follows. During a wonderful early spring walk this year I stopped for a moment and just sucked in this view ...Trekking up the Escarpment. I was on the home stretch. It had been an intoxicating & invigorating walk. I had taken several other photographs on route, but this was the shot that best encapsulated, for me, the WHOLE walk, the MOOD of the walk, the full ATMOSPHERE of that 'End of Winter transition to the Beginning of Spring'. This time frame is a magical planetary moment to both experience & behold. All is re-surging, renewing and coming back to Life in the northern hemisphere ... The planet lives. I wanted to paint that.

After a couple of weeks, this is what I got. It's called, 'The Last Bit of Snow'.

Interestingly enough, this above 'observance' was preceded by a second method work - 'Spring2009!' . A much more 'impressionistic' item, it gets to the fundamental 'planet changing' idea with a few stark images. It documents, to my mind, the first surge when the planet is literally warming up ...
The daffodils in centre and the core of the tree on left have been highlighted in gold paint to add 'luminosity' ...

The second method overall, as you can see, is a bit more quixotic. The starting point usually involves some kind of meditation on an 'idea', that is then translated & refined into a number of rough sketches. I modify where I want to go, and emphasis what I want the focus to be. The final image is then loosely colour coded. I generally have quite a firm image in my head before I start, and then I begin to paint.

There is no question though that sometimes I will deviate from that final image that I hold in my head. Something - a brush stroke, a colour combo, an outline, an adjunct thought - will entice me to follow that to greater fruition. Another example follows:

This image is complete fantasy, but quite plausible as 'a place' to come home to, no? The yellow spirals in the cypress trees in the foreground (hard to see in this repro) were an 'add on' on route and an example of what I mean about 'things happen' ... I liked the playful 'mood' they add to the overall effect. Large, the final canvas measures 3 feet high, and 7 feet across ...

I haven't given this work a 'title' yet.