© Shawna Coleman
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Artist Jaye Ouellette with "Thelxiope" now on display at The Bistro until January 2nd.
For the most part during my afternoon with Jaye Ouellette, we viewed her artwork of the ocean, and waves, and naturally of colour. Using her camera to accentuate light and movement, she captures an image, which then becomes her inspiration. The reflection of light within the waves is caused by a variety of sources, but it is through Ouellette's eyes I come to learn and appreciate the fragile source of her light. Losing her sight a few years ago, gave Jaye further insight into many things, more particularly her art.
"It was on a return trip from Africa in 1997 that I started to lose sight in my right eye. Over a four day period essentially I became suddenly and permanently blind." Hence putting her career as a film and TV key scenic artist in Toronto, on hold. "I had to stop working. Then seven years later, it (blindness) started to affect my second eye". Naturally, this catapulted Jaye into a range of emotions which took her away from her art and profession and sent her into an extended period of convalescence.
Jaye, originally from Peterborough, Ont., now resides in McArras Brook, Antigonish County, with her husband Doug (Stenesrud).
"It's only been the last five years that I started painting and showing my work again. It was a process for me to start doing art with what vision I still had."
Ouellette's property juts out and along the Northumberland Strait which becomes a coastal playground of sorts for her. Inside her studio there is a body of work in progress, several photos of waves and trees, sketches and a selection of music to aid as inspiration.
"I start with a photograph that I've taken and map everything out from there. It takes me about a day of preparation before I'm ready to paint." Painted with acrylic on panels, her finished piece is then mounted onto brushed wooden frames. "I'm really quite excited at the moment for my latest painting, Thelxiope." And, for significant reason. Taking 3 1/2 months to create, "Thelxiope" measure 23" x 96. Earlier this year, Jaye submitted an application to have her work shown as part of the 2014: Nova Scotia Art Realism Exhibit.
"Tom Smart a very well-known Canadian art writer and curator is heading the exhibit. Two hundred artists submitted their work (for review), which was initially pared down to 50 for studio visits by curators Peter Dykhuis, director of the gallery, and Tom Smart. The group was then reduced to 28, and of those, 10 were chosen to be included in a documentary about Nova Scotian realist artists."
Jaye was selected to be featured in the documentary. "I was very honoured to have had Tom Smart visit my studio... (he) is arguably the premier authority of realism art in Canada." It was Tom Smart who suggested that Jaye do a large painting, "and so Thelxiope was born." The Nova Scotia Art Realism Exhibit will run from mid January to March at the Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax. The exhibit It will then embark on a two year exhibit across the country.
Discussing her work Ouellette says "The constantly shifting pattern of colours and light of the ocean, ephemeral in every moment, is an increasing fascination for me. I find the mystery of this dynamic and ancient subject deeply compelling. Water embodies the concept of endlessness, of complexities repeating from one drop to the vast sea. Initially my work incorporated the sky and the ocean, but gradually my focus has shifted to the waves themselves. The intent of my paintings is about being immersed in this presence. For that reason, the horizon and any other reference points have disappeared. I am interested in conveying how the ocean resonates, rather than a literal depiction. Giving the work a decidedly contemporary immediacy and relevance. From one painting to the next, I attend to an ever deepening engagement and understanding with this entity that is moving water."
Ouellette's work is a messenger of sheer beauty, and "Thelxiope" is undeniably proof of triumph over personal adversity. Her work is a must to be viewed online at jaye.ca. and currently at The Bistro, New Glasgow.
Thelxiope is titled after a Siren from the Greek mythology. According to Wikipedia: 'Sirens were dangerous and beautiful creatures portrayed as femme fatales who lured nearly sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast'.
Shawna Coleman is a Westville resident who is never without a camera or a listening ear. She is a regular correspondent with The News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org