Glynis Wilson Boultbee always wanted to try her hand at drawing.
And starting last year her dream of exploring this mode of expression began taking shape as she signed up for the visual arts program at Red Deer College.
As this school year begins, she is hosting an exhibit showcasing some of her works in the Corridor Community Gallery at the Recreation Centre.
‘Shrug’ runs through to the end of November.
An artist’s reception runs Oct. 3rd from 5 to 7 p.m.
“It was a life-long yearning that I would be able to do this,” she explains. “So in September of last year I entered my first year of studies.”
An initial assignment involved each student being given a tiny image from a larger picture, which was to be duplicated through drawing in a larger format.
“Eventually we had to put it all together and see what it was, as we didn’t know at the time.”
Wilson Boultbee’s image was of the shoulder of someone wearing a coat.
“I found it really hard – I kept getting lost in the folds,” she recalls with a laugh. But the finished product – The Damn Coat – is exceptional in its ‘textured’ detail.
Wilson Boultbee felt inspired to take the concept further.
For ‘Shrug’, each piece is of a shoulder – and not just anyone’s shoulder.
Each person – whether a friend, a teacher or a family member –has been integral to her journey of exploring her artistic sensibilities.
“I decided in the summer I would pick nine people who had either helped me get to or through my first year in visual art school,” she explains. “I would invite them to wear whatever they wanted to – they knew what the project was. My interest was also in fabric.
“So I would take a photograph of them from various angles, but focus on their shoulders. What I wanted to do was create portraits of these people who had been important to me, without the benefit of the face, while focusing on their shoulders.”
Her working title for the exhibit as the portraits were being created was ‘Shrug’.
But initially, she was concerned that shrug might be interpreted as a kind of dismissive term – the very opposite of what she wanted to express.
“I wasn’t sure I liked it, but I had a rough summer because of some other things that were going on and so I was able to ‘shrug off’ some of my cares whenever I was drawing.” Thus, the term took on a new meaning. Art provided Wilson Boultbee with the means of shedding some of the stress that was pressing in. And working on the project almost every single day for two months, she realized the project had become a kind of oasis.
When she picked up her pencil, she could disappear into the work – ‘shrugging’ off a variety of cares, while sinking into the pleasure of making art.
“One of the things I really like about art is that when I’m working on a drawing I’m completely taken by what I’m doing, completely focused,” she says. “Everything else kind of falls away. We multi-task our way through a lot these days, and I can’t with art – I have to let it all go so I can be fully present with that.
“There’s a mindfulness to it that I find very pleasurable.”
She drew one portrait a week over the summer and the results are remarkable.
“It was this beautiful kind of experience of diving into a painting or a drawing that allowed me to learn things as well as to reflect on a person who had done me a favour, or sometimes many favours,” she says. “They are people who are lovely and who have taught me a lot or given me a lot. The images try to communicate something about that person without showing their faces.”
There is absolutely no doubt Wilson Boultbee has a tremendous flair for drawing – the portraits done in graphite on paper are not just superb, they are insightful into each person being portrayed – even though no faces are featured.
It’s been a wonderfully creative season for Wilson Boultbee, who is also a gifted writer. As to the drawing, she explains how her mother always encouraged her.
“She was really supportive. She always said, ‘I know you can draw.’ She would encourage me, but I just didn’t believe her,” she adds with a smile.
As to sharing her works with the public, Wilson Boultbee says she is excited – and a touch nervous – to do so. She’s been involved with exhibits before, but usually in a shared manner with another artist and in a writing capacity.
“Really, I feel excited because I feel like I’m on my way,” she explains. “I also like this as a body of work – the concept turned out the way I had hoped it would. I feel grateful.”