The first time I posted an art installation on this blog, it was to talk about the work of my friend, the artist, Louise Savoie. Five years later, it’s been a joy to watch her evolve from representational art to flourish in her new passion for abstract painting. She has been painting consistently for about 10 years now and has a new show opening in Calgary this week.
Under the guidance of her mentors, Doug Swinton and Erica Neumann, Savoie sold many pieces and had much success with representational painting. She was frequently commissioned for private collections and it seemed there was no subject she could not capture the essence of. She painted portraits of people and animals, travel and landscapes with ease. Athletes in motion were conveyed so that you actually felt their effort. Paintings from a trip to Malta resulted in soft impressionist works which she attributed to the subtle quality of light on the island.
With all her success in the representational realm, it made it all the more daring for Savoie to leave this style behind to experiment and grow. “I didn’t feel challenged anymore,” she told me once, “But, when I paint abstract, I feel it coming from my very core. Sometimes that’s a very scary journey.” Leaving a shared studio setting to paint from home could have been isolating but instead she joined an online community and gained a group of artists from around the world to discuss art and exchange ideas with. She explains her journey further.
“In 2016, I changed direction to abstract painting after taking a 12-week online Art2Life workshop with Nicholas Wilton, a California based artist. With abstract I never know what the painting will look like until the very end. I keep on responding to marks and shapes, taking into consideration design, colour, texture and soul. I feel the result allows the viewers to respond freely and personally to what they are seeing. That reaction is often very different from my own interpretation.” Savoie uses mixed media: acrylics, pencil, pastel, transfers, and collage. She took a workshop with American artist Michael Shemchuk this year to learn how to use paper collage to give a distressed look to her paintings. It is easy to see the influence of Wilton and Shemchuk in her work but, each work is uniquely her own as well.
True to the purpose of contemporary art, each viewer can interpret it however they like and I believe Savoie’s transition to abstract works and contemporary art is a complete success. I’ve added three pieces to my collection of her work. You can find Savoie’s most recent pieces, in her third show for this gallery, at Art on Ninth (1211b 9 Avenue, SE) in Calgary’s Inglewood neighbourhood from November 8, 2018 to January 6, 2019.
Savoie says, “Art on Ninth is a great place to show art because their concept is to show local artists throughout the year for two months at a time. The venue is well organized, has good lighting and is people friendly with all styles and price brackets. It allows us to show for longer than just a popup weekend show.”
Sounds like a very welcoming gallery. And, Inglewood is a great place for shopping, eating, birdwatching, and live music so plan to make a day of it. I’ll leave you now with four Savoie pieces to savour until you do.