Several months ago, I was sitting on the subway staring at the inane advertising banners – no I don’t want to meet sexy singles, nor do I want to buy a house and I am certainly not interested in a change of career at this point in my life! I overheard two ladies chatting and laughing nearby, so I found an opening to contribute to the conversation and soon found myself enjoying the journey with joyful companions. Skip ahead to present day and one of them, artist Pauline Langmaid, is now a friend and a client.
Based up north in Bracebridge, Pauline’s work is reminiscent of the famed Group of Several meets Edvard Munch meets Emily Carr – full of colour and bold strokes that describe her vision of the stark landscapes that surround her. I recently spoke with Pauline, asking her to share her thoughts on painting, her inspirations and her advice for others wanting a painterly life.
What first inspired you to start painting professionally, more than as a hobby? I just wanted/needed to paint everyday and I belong to several wonderful groups of artists, The Burk’s Falls Art and Crafts Club, the Kearney Art Group; the Almaguin Highlands Arts Council; the East Central Ontario Artists Association; and the Muskoka Art and Craft Club who have been instrumental in my growth as an artist and continually encourage me to keep painting and to sell my paintings.Did you have any formal training and if so, where? My first courses began when I was 8 years old at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery under the skilled direction of Paul Sloggett who is now a renowned Canadian Abstract artist. I’ve also studied at Meta 4 Gallery, primarily with Linda Edwards. The Haliburton School of the Arts introduced me to Ramune Luminaire and I took many courses from her as well both in Haliburton and in Oshawa at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. Janine Marsden and Diane Finlayson of Huntsville have also been instrumental in my growth as an artist.Who are your artistic inspirations? I started out in love with Van Gogh’s work and moved on to Emily Carr – I long-lamented that she was not still around to guide and mentor me. People over the years have told me that my work also reminds them of Edvard Munch’s work. I have recently completed two paintings in the Jackson Pollock style and can understand why he painted this way – it was extremely satisfying. Another huge inspiration is, of course, Mother Nature. One of my favorite subjects is Georgian Bay after an awe inspiring kayaking trip with some wonderful girlfriends who are all over the age of 50. I have painted at least 10 paintings of that trip in the past 3 years.Do you have a preferred colour palette or technique, and if so, explain? My favorite palette is orange and its complements, I’m not sure why. My favorite way to paint is to find something in nature…sketch it, take photos of it, bring it back to the studio and begin putting down ideas. I will often integrate many different scenes I’ve seen in nature into one painting. At this point, I will pick my colour palette using my colour wheel, generally try to force the painting into something that I think it should be, fail miserably, then pray and do my best to let go! Once I have been able to let go of the outcome, I get up very close and personal with my canvas and the paint just starts flowing and I try not to think. Then the hard part comes when I need to stop this feeling part and look carefully at it and place finishing touches.Your current work shows a very bold style – how do people react to your paintings upon first sight? And does this excite you as an artist? I can place people’s reactions in two distinct categories. They either “get it” or they don’t and that is ok with me. Those who “get it” get very excited start dancing around in my small studio and expressing quite loudly that they see what I am trying to convey and often purchase at least one item, large or small, as a token of their experience. Then there are those who don’t “get it” and they basically walk in and walk out. All reactions are valid. The comments I most often get are “WOW!”; “that’s interesting”; and “there’s just something about your painting, I can’t put my finger on it but I love it”. People have definite favorites and some have compared one of my trees with a face to “Groot”, a character from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. At the time I painted her, I had never even seen the movie. Possibly because my tag line is “art as worship” I have many conversations relating to God and spirit and how He/She/It moves in their lives. More than once people have been moved to tears as a reaction to some of my paintings. Of course I love to sell my paintings as this allows me to continue painting and spreading God’s love, however, just having people come into my studio and understand what it is I am trying to say is very gratifying. Can you tell us about your studio which is located 3hrs north of Toronto? My studio is located in the historical Clock Tower Center in Bracebridge, Ontario. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and was able to secure this lovely creative space. I love my days in my little studio (below) where I get to paint and interact with people from all over the world. I currently have a guest artist, Tamara Blakelok, also sharing my space. Martin Sheffield, the owner of the building, had a vision and has created an amazing space for fine artists and artisans, and it’s also a Clock Museum housing many antique clocks available for sale. Bracebridge’s historical Federal Post Office building, now renamed “The Clock Tower Centre” is officially listed as one of Ontario’s notable clock towers. It’s located in the heart of the downtown at the corner of Bracebridge’s busiest main intersection, Manitoba and Taylor Streets. Within the walls of the Clock Tower Centre you will find a treasure trove of artist studios, galleries, boutiques and spas creating an incredible shopping experience that will keep you coming back for more.
You seem to have a lot of support from your local community via social media and attendance at art shows – has this helped your decision to reach out to a bigger audience in Toronto and across Canada? I was invited to do a solo show at the Dwight Public Library last year and at the Pickering Village Jam Festival this year. I also participate in group shows across Northern Ontario and in Algonquin Park. The Burk’s Falls Art & Crafts Club has an Arts Center where all members show and sell their work and I have pieces for sale at this location. I do have quite a following via social media and, yes, these things have encouraged me to reach out and test the waters in the larger Toronto market and across Canada. I kept telling my Burk’s Falls group that the Group of Seven painted their masterpieces up here and took them to Toronto to sell. I decided I needed to put my money where my mouth is!Any other comments or advice for those taking up a paintbrush? Just keep painting but also learn by intention the basics of drawing, composition and of colour. This makes a huge impact in our work. Get connected with other like-minded people who are willing to share their expertise and once you get some expertise share that with others, remembering:
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss
80% of what we experience
95% of what we teach others.”- William Glasser
So I say stick with the winners. Most importantly, get connected with your higher power whoever or whatever that is for you personally. For me this is God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost who direct my path and help me to paint my paintings.
You can learn more about Pauline at: www.paulinelangmaid.com and you can view her paintings in Toronto at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East (“O Canada” group show closes July 29). You can also follower her on social media at: Facebook.com/Pauline-Langmaid-Fine-ArtI recommend buying a Pauline Langmaid original now before too many collectors find her and recognize her talent! You can’t go wrong investing in Canadian artists.