You might say that whimsy brought together Maureen Walker and Kathryn Ross, the two artists sharing the space at The Art Gallery Osoyoos for the gallery’s latest show.
“Wings & Whimsical Things” is a first time collaboration between Vernon’s Ross and Walker from Keremeos. Match-made by the gallery’s curator Claudia Punter, Ross is an oil painter while Walker’s passion is sculptures.
Although never having met before the two quickly found a common chord. “We found that we like similar things, we called it Wings and Whimsical Things because she likes to do hummingbirds and things like that and I do a lot of fairies and angels and stuff like that,” says Walker.
“I’ve painted some herons and she makes herons, and she’s made mermaids and I’ve painted mermaids,” Ross adds.
Aside from the complementary subject matter, there are also more practical considerations. The fact sculptures generally don’t need wall space means the gallery can essentially have two shows in one. And the two mediums work well together from an aesthetic point of view as well.
Ross who prefers to paint in oil says after a couple of years of acrylics she made the switch because “it just suited me better.”
I got a little frustrated with acrylic because it dries so fast. When you’re painting you can’t just keep going sometimes you’ve got to stop. I found that I had too many paintings on the go and never finished,” she laughs.
“Oil takes longer to dry so you can sit down and work for three or four hours and then if you want to set it aside,” she says. Because oil dries slower it enables her to jump back in and still be able to blend the colours.
“One of the things that’s neat about us doing this show together is that we’re both actually new artists,” Walker says adding she’s been doing her sculptures for about five years and Ross has been painting for about eight years. A relatively short period of time, particularly given the extraordinary level of artistry in their respective work.
And surprisingly for both artists it wasn’t a situation where they dabbled for years, but rather a more coincidental jump into the deep end of the art pool.
For Walker, who says she’s always been artistic but just not in a formal way, it was simply seeing this unique type of sculpture at a craft show.
“I just fell in love with the whole concept of it,” and from there took some lessons from the woman exhibiting at the craft show.
At a certain point, she realized it was getting too expensive as simply a hobby and went fully into it, selling her work and even becoming a certified instructor.
Her sculptures are made around metal armatures underneath and covered in various types of fabric and other material that has fabric hardener applied to it. Treated against ultra-violet light the vast majority of her sculptures are actually meant to be outdoors.
In one of her pieces on display, the base is actually a vintage mannequin that she transformed into an angel, while another is of a child riding on an actual tricycle. The fabric can be anything from an old t-shirt to a bedspread and the fact that Walker used to be a seamstress surely helps in her artful endeavour.
As coincidence would have it, Ross also spent nearly 10 years doing metal art sculptures for homes and gardens. “A lot birds and animals and herons on rocks which is what Maureen does also,” Ross says.
A repetitive stress injury from all the metalwork meant a slowdown in that work which later coincided with a holiday to Costa Rica. “I saw all these great paintings that I really liked and I said, ‘I bet you I can do that!’”
In what was clearly a serendipitous situation Ross explains that “it kinda started because somebody had left an art book on painting in the place we were staying. I was looking through that and I decided to take a workshop.
“So the very next month I signed up for a painting workshop and I’ve been doing it ever since,” she says. Ross painted for a couple of years in Calgary where she was working as an X-ray technician before she moved to Vernon.
Birds, flowers and animals are a favourite subject for Ross with the gallery’s walls adorned with her artistry. When asked if she has a favourite piece on display she laughs saying, “Well the ones that aren’t for sale!”
The painting of a heron she cited as an example, explaining that it took her a “long time to do it, and I’ve got a special spot in my house for it.” But she says she’ll paint another and then sell the first.
“I like to enjoy them for a while sometimes before I take them to sell,” she says.
Wings & Whimsical Things is on from Oct 7-28 at The Art Gallery Osoyoos, 8713 Main St. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and can be reached at 250-495-2800.