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Showcase Winners Talk About the Arts in Canada
by Natalie Hegert

Cliff Kearns-- "and so we soldier on..."

As a mid-career artist emerging from a successful career as a freelance illustrator, I have only been painting full time now for about 6 years. As such, do not have an art degree and am still working towards establishing my visual voice and convincing the local museums and galleries that I have one. When I say working full time, half that time is devoted to art marketing efforts. Among other things, I do direct sales marketing to art consultants all over North America, with some good results.

We have also enjoyed remunerative success as part of the annual London Artist Open Studio Tour this past year, and am hoping for good results from that Tour again this coming April. About 30 local artists open their studios to the public that weekend. I believe there is a lot of merit to: 'Sprout and grow where you're planted'.
There is no question the weak economy has hurt sales this past 18 months. I related very much to the term 'Collector Paralysis'. Art is still a discretionary and often an emotional impulse purchase.  If you missed those rare moments this past year, you missed a sale. While the interest in visual art appears to be growing overall, It is still made up of many more practitioners than supporters. I refer to some of these musings in my digital series called 'The Game of Art'

The internet venues (Art Slant etc.) are certainly educational and helpful in formulating one's career from a global perspective, but they can consume a lot of time. I've been backing off Facebook recently as the proliferation of social media marketing by artist peer friends can be overwhelming and a source of personal frustration.

As someone who has been successful in an illustration career, I don't intend to rest (God willing) until some measure of success is achieved in "this fine art career". In the meantime, there are always accomplishments and great rewards to be gained in the creation and development of the work itself. And so we soldier on believing the economy will get better and progress will be made.

My painting attempts to address the topic and language of art itself using chronological numbering in its subject matter. I am literally counting on my paintings to make art. I like to think that the work, in time and sequence might shed some insight on the 'Painting is Dead Theory'  As such, this more recent series of work titled 'Edges' is beginning to come out from the wall.

London (population 350,000) is midway (2 hrs by car) between Toronto, Canada and Detroit USA.
This city has a rich visual art history, a nationally recognized fine art graduate program from its University of Western Ontario as well as a university museum and a regional museum, three major commercial galleries and a few artist-run contemporary galleries--there were in fact three new galleries opened this past year by artists frustrated with finding venues for their work.

Cliff Kearns was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada and spent much of his career working as a freelance illustrator from his studio in London, Ontario.  He has recently turned his full attention to self expression in contemporary mixed media painting.  His works Image 42 - Has a Red Patch, and Image 22 - Bling Bling have won awards in the Artslant Showcase Competitions in July, 2009 and November, 2009 respectively.

(Images courtesy of Cliff Kearns. Top: Image 35; Below: Image 54 - On Three Edges, and IMAGEstick 55. )

Laura Warburton --"creative, artistic and independent..."


A great year for abstract artist I believe,
downtown condo and loft living is ever more popular and desirable. Individuals are seeking out local artists to provide those pieces that complete their individualized living spaces.  Much more savvy art lovers are appearing each day... creative , artistic and independent describes the Toronto abstract art lover.

Laura Warburton is a Toronto-based artist who creates art through the use of colour, texture and imagination.  Her painting Forest Fire was a September, 2009 ArtSlant Showcase Winner.
(Image: Laura Warburton, Forest Fire, 2009, acrylic and leveling medium on canvas, 36 x 48.)

Marie-Paule Thorn--
"I choose creativity..."

2009 was a good year for me, as my abstract paintings were well-received by the virtual arts community world-wide. The most defining moment for me was being named one of the November Award Winners on Artslant.

Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is a relatively small town, but its artistic community is vibrant, with many galleries, theatres and artistic events of all kinds.

My challenge is to participate in as much as possible without sacrificing time for my own creativity. I choose creativity and have yet to knock on gallery doors to present my portfolio. I look forward to creating more and meeting other artists in 2010.

Artist Marie-Paule Thorn explores geometrical designs, composition, texture and juxtaposition of colors to enhance a visual dominance in both paintings and photographs.  Her painting Shifting Sands #2 was an ArtSlant Showcase Winner in November, 2009.

(Image: Marie-Paule Thorn, The Wedding Guests, January 2010, mixed media, 24 x 24 in.)

Posted by Natalie Hegert on 1/24/10

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