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Portrait of John Howe

Portrait of John Howe

John Howe is a Vancouver born illustrator, now living in Switzerland, known widely for his renderings of the Lord of The Rings canon and movie trilogy series. He also happens to be my favourite artist. Born in 1957, Howe attended primary and high school in Vancouver, but one year after graduation, he enrolled at the Ecoledes Arts Décoratifs in France.

For years, Howe had been drawing and painting scenes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic history of Middle-earth. Most of these can be found in his online portfolio categorized into The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of The Rings books. Other works can also be found online as well, including cover art for books and novels, rough sketches, unpublished work, and loads more. Howe’s website also contains a few tutorials, such as how to paint grass, what kinds of brushes to use to achieve a desired outcome, and how having drawers full of rocks is a good thing for any illustrator.

Gandalf outside Bag End by John Howe

Gandalf outside Bag End by John Howe

Going beyond art, Howe puts some serious thought into his paintings, as can be seen and read on his website, and even in the special feature DVD’s of The Lord of The Rings. On his website, Howe tries to render many medieval objects that do not necessarily exist today as part of his artistic planning process. He recreates many artifacts, such as a sword, to understand the weight, motion of the swing, the muscles needed to swing it, etc. Only after this can one properly understand how to render it. As a result, there are photos found on his website of Howe wearing suits of armour and wielding swords.

Check out John Howe’s website portfolio.

Reconciliation Invite Image

Reconciliation Invite Image

It seems Medicine Hat Media has been left out of the Visual Communications graduation show media release for the second year in a row. This is the last time we will advertise for them! Just kidding… or am I?

The exhibition for the graduation show is open daily between April 3-12 from 9:30AM and 4:30PM in the Medicine Hat College’s main lobby. The reception happens on Friday, April 9th, at 7:00PM, which coincides with The Children’s Hour that starts up at 7:30PM on the 9th.

I have received an invitation through my place of employment for the grad show, but it does not give too much information about what you can expect by attending the show. So judging by their website,, it looks as though there are drawings, paintings, photographs, graphic design and perhaps sculptures.

The branding for the grad show  is done again with a straight Helvetica type face. The website is a minimalistic WordPress theme, which unlike past years, allows everyone with access to the back-end of it to log in and upload their own photos. The website allows users to “Reconcile“, whereby the user can post any reconciliations they have, which will then automatically be posted to the website. I posted one:

I am a sad panda that this website was not submitted to to raise awareness for the reception!

I hope this years graduation show is not advertised to be environmentally friendly, like last year’s Lost & Found show, whose organizers purchased huge amounts of corrugated cardboard to be connotative of the theme, which was probably just thrown out afterwards.

The reception should be host to food and alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages, music and dancing. Come down, check some art, hear some music and get your fill of food. THE JUMP – Read the rest of this entry »

Image Pot Homepage Screenshot

Image Pot Homepage Screenshot

Recently launched, Medicine Hat’s Image Pot is a new and unique website focusing on local photography presented in a unique format on the web. The website uses a very unique and cool WordPress theme for showcasing imagery in a different/less-standard way which really looks great for the photography. A nice touch is also the previous/next arrows to move throughout the site easily.

The website was created and is managed by Larry Switzer, a local photographer/designer himself. Most of the current work on the site is Larry’s, but he is open and willing to post anything, anybody would like to share on the site as well. A bit more about the site:

Medicine Hat’s Image Pot is about photographers and their pictures. Our aim is to showcase these fascinating people and their work. We want you to be able to view the world as they see it. As well one of our goals is to showcase Southern Alberta and it’s treasures. This is going to be the place to come to see firsthand all this enchanting landscape has to offer. We hope you enjoy the site and encourage you tell your friends, family and co-workers about us.

Medicine Hat’s Image Pot

The Esplanade Art Gallery is pleased to announce the installation of an unprecedented billboard art project in Medicine Hat, which will remain on display until the week of Apr. 5, 2010.

This innovative artist billboard project, entitled Flight, by Medicine Hat artist Dana Shukster, is located at Dunmore Road, south of 22 Street SE.  It is presented in conjunction with her current exhibition at the Esplanade Art Gallery, Pre-Flight –Trace.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time an artist has ventured out to install a ‘satellite’ exhibition on an outdoor billboard in Medicine Hat,” says Joanne Marion, curator of art at the Esplanade. “It is unique in that there is no message, no call to action – just simply artwork for the public to enjoy.”

Dana Shukster’s recent explorations of the fleeting aspects of light have led to the creation of a series of large scale, sepia-toned inkjet prints on paper. These mysterious images are derived from projected shadows of magpies in flight, and are the basis for Shukster’s billboard project as well as her Esplanade Art Gallery exhibition. THE JUMP – Read the rest of this entry »

Many artists begin showing an interest in art as very young children: Roberta Murray is no different. In fact, her mother wrote in her baby book, “very artistically able from the age of two”. This Calgary born photographer recently joined the Alberta Society of Artists, and has photographs on display in galleries worldwide.

Roberta Murray

Roberta completed the New York Institute of Photography’s certificate program in 1990, but sold all of her photography equipment shortly after to shift her focus to textiles. After fourteen years of textile work Roberta returned to photography at first to document her textile work, and later as a form of meditation. Fortunately for all of us, this long break from photography led Roberta to discover new ways to think about colour and detail, and resulted in the impressionistic pictorialist style she is known for today.

The photography of this Rocky Mountain House Resident is truly striking, almost having a closer resemblance to paintings than photos. I strongly encourage everyone to take a good look at her portfolio to take in this very unique style.

Roberta Murray’s Website
Uncommon Depth

Two Thought-Provoking Exhibitions by Medicine Hat Artists Open Saturday at the Esplanade Art Gallery
The Esplanade Art Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of two new exhibitions on display until Apr. 11.

Laara Cassells: e·strange

What does the generation dubbed ‘the intentionally disengaged’ have to do with the long-established tradition of the equestrian (a.k.a. horse) portrait? Artist Laara Cassells is surrounded in her daily life by young people and horses, and in this new and insightful body of work, she brings both together to muse on popular culture and its intersection with the values of tradition and the natural world. Curator of art Joanne Marion comments: “Laara Cassells poses intriguing questions with flashes of humour in these elegant double portraits: about the directions in which today’s digital communications are taking us, about the fate of the natural world, about the meaning of our cultural traditions… and she generously leaves the answers up to the viewer.”

Laara Cassells’ practice as an artist spans painting, sculpture, installation and multi-media performances. Her work has been presented in numerous exhibitions and performances around the world, including Canada, the United States, Hungary, Korea, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland and Italy. Cassells divides her time between Medicine Hat, where she is a faculty member of the Visual Communications Program at Medicine Hat College, and Sundre, Alberta.

Dana Shukster: Pre-Flight –Trace

Dana Shukster’s recent explorations of the fleeting aspects of light have led to the creation of a series of large scale, sepia-toned inkjet prints on paper. These mysterious images are derived from projected shadows of magpies in flight, and are accompanied in the gallery by video and direct shadow projections. “Dana Shukster’s process is almost scientific in its rationality, and yet the results are certainly poetic and even eerie. Her works give us pause to wonder at the arbitrary nature of our perception of our transitory world,” says curator of art Joanne Marion.

Dana Shukster is based in Medicine Hat, Alberta and has exhibited her work across Canada and in the United States and Europe. Her work has been supported by grants and awards from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and is held in numerous public and private collections in Alberta and British Columbia.

e·strange and Pre-Flight –Trace are on display in the Esplanade Art Gallery until Apr. 11, 2010. The opening reception is Thursday, Mar. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Gallery Foyer. The artists will be present and will give a brief tour of their work. There is no charge to attend the reception and everyone is welcome.

Joan Bailey - Image from ArtistsinCanada

Joan Bailey - Image from ArtistsinCanada

Alberta artist Joan Bailey boasts an almost entirely self-directed art education, and as a result she has skillfully created a very diverse collection of art using paint, wax, and metal. Because of the variety in her art her online portfolio is much more interesting to peruse than many of the artists I investigated for this edition of  Art Exposure. Bailey claims to thrive on exploring the patterns and mysteries of life through the use of stark contrast in her art, which was very apparent as I explored the works on her website.

The reason I chose to feature Joan this week is because of the variety in her work. Although I am by no means knowledgeable about art, I have noticed that many artists tend to specialize in one form of art (even if they do explore a variety of mediums as well). She doesn’t appear to focus on any one form of creation more than any other, which pretty much made her perfect for Art Exposure, in my opinion.

Joan has an email provided on her website for those who are curious about pricing or other aspects of her work.

Sandhills Cow Still Life

Sandhills Cow Still Life On display at the Prickly Pear Gallery - Medicine Hat, AB

Gena LaCoste is a local Medicine Hat artist with a lot of “pull” around town in the art community. I personally see her work in many places in town and also see her participating in pretty much every art event happening in the city, and sometimes even some trade shows/markets. She definitely is one of the biggest names in Medicine Hat, especially for her stylistically vivid and colorful large format watercolor paintings. She tends to deal with subjects ranging from horses, floral themes, to other prairie life depictions – what she knows and has lived.

Her website is full of her artwork with three separate galleries packed with tons of her paintings over the years, listing the names, the price (if they are for sale), and even where they currently are showcased. The site also contains a sizable biography on Gena, here’s a snippet:

Gena LaCoste paints what she loves. Gena has loved the grasslands from her first breath. She learned about the land and its unique ecosystems from her family, and this love has equipped her to paint the authentic lifestyles of prairie families. Now, Gena paints what she loves. “I was painting and drawing by the time I was three years of age,” Gena recalls. “My early memories include the river at the cow camps, and the sounds of water sliding past. Dust, heat rising, the arid smells of sage brush, and the tones of light begged to be painted.” Riding on her own horse to the cow camp with her father, for instance, etched images in her heart that she tries to record through colours and water. “I remember trying to find a way to draw a horse so that it looked like the ones in front of me.”

The Alberta Foundation for the Arts Travelling Exhibition Program, southeast Alberta region, announced today the opening of a new travelling art exhibition at the Medicine Hat Public Library, 414 First Street SE. The Fantastical World of Jeff de Boer will be on display at the library until Feb. 24, 2010.

The Fantastical World of Jeff de Boer is populated by intrepid explorers, armoured warriors, robots, flying machines and mysterious ‘exoforms.’ He has spent a lifetime imagining the hero’s transformative journey through his art. The metal sculptures and schematic drawings presented in this travelling exhibition reflect the sculptor’s keen awareness of tradition and potential of technology to shape the future.

The son of a tinsmith, Jeff de Boer began working with metal at the age of five. He built his first complete set of armour before finishing high school. As a graduate of the Alberta College of Art and Design in 1988, de Boer garnered much early critical attention with his unique armour for cats and mice. There are wonderful and intricate examples of cat, mice and rat armour in this exhibition that humorously explore the relationship between predator and prey, as well as the relationship of opposites in nature. De Boer also reveals his interest in Asian philosophy and culture with a major sculpture from the collection of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts entitled, The Buddha in You.

The conception of de Boer’s highly refined sculptures often begins and develops through schematic drawings. This travelling exhibition presents work drawings related to his major commissions such as the RoboFamily at the Vancouver Science World. THE JUMP – Read the rest of this entry »

Photo by Robert Berdan

Photo by Robert Berdan

Although Robert Berdan worked as a Cell Biologist at the Universities of Alberta and Calgary for twelve years, then managed the Calgary Science Centre for five years, he has also been well-known photographer for thirty years and owns a web design company in Calgary. Cell biology seems a strange career path for such an creative person, but the variety in his work life most likely made his photography and design much better.

Berdan’s photos have been published in science journals, book covers, and IMPACT magazine, and have even been a part of a traveling exhibit with the Science Centre. Robert prefers to print his own photos using an inkjet printer that produces the astounding detail he is known for. The primary focus of Berdan’s photos is nature, and all animals that appear in his photos are wild, rather than captive or rehabilitated. I like that detail the most, I think. Every time I see footage of “wild” animals I think of a video I once saw of David Attenborough stumbling through a forest searching for a species of bird, that is so rarely seen… in an Australian zoo (so disappointing). Needless to say, it is quite impressive that Robert is committed to taking pictures of animals in their natural habitats. All of Berdan’s photos have been taken in either Southern Alberta or Georgian Bay, Ontario. Presumably the quality of the picture I posted here was not compromised by being viewed on a monitor as the only modifications done on them are those that would be done in a dark room (burning, dodging, dust spot removal, and colour enhancement through the use of masks).

In addition to his photography, Robert owns a small design company called Science and Art Media in Calgary. Apparently, Robert was the first person in Calgary to offer internet training in Calgary. so much for the stereotype of older adults being inept at learning internet skills. I am going to leave the commentary on the quality of the designs up to the two designers that run this site since I’m sure they will pounce on it as soon as they read this.

For those of you who are wondering about the Attenborough reference I have included the video to which I am referring, it is very cool even if it is in a zoo.

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