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Reflections on the Arts

This section is for artists to express their views on the arts. Also, it is intended to give people an understanding of the creative process, the skills involved in creating art and the trials of being an art. This space is open for all to express their views. Though these views may be different than our own, we encourage input and we seek to enlighten. If you wish to submit an article please e-mail us at

A woodcut is a relief printing method (like the linocuts everyone did in school most likely) except the tools are different, lines are sharper and one gets the effect of the wood grain since woodcuts are gouged along the grain of the plank as opposed to wood engravings which are done on supports made from the 'end grain' of the wood . Areas that are to remain 'white' are cut out and whatever remains in relief. Earliest woodblocks are said to date back to their use for printing on fabric by the Egyptians at least 2000 yrs ago BC. the Chinese after inventing paper (AD105) used blocks at first 'stamping' them on the paper and then rubbing or burnishing the back of the paper placed on an inked block - this is the method we use today although presses can be used most woodcut practicioners prefer handburnishing (done with a tool similar to the back of a silver soupspoon) So called 'block books' abounded in Medeival times - often the prints were 'hand coloured ' as were the earliest Japanese prints. The latter (later on) are famous for fine colour prints using many blocks (for the separate colours). Most artists in North America now use up to 3/4" thick planks such as pine and also maple, birch, poplar etc. ( dried and aged ) - sometimes old furniture can be used -( a US artist was known for his woodcuts from old door) Modern Japanese printmakers use various exotic fruitwoods and veneers but these aren't easily obtainable here. The best papers for printmaking are hand made Japanese from the mulberry plant or tree (originally wrongly termed 'rice paper') which are available here in the specialty paper shops and come in many weights and textures.

- by Louise Cass

I have been an artist for about 20 years although it is only in the past five years that I have referred to myself as an artist. It seems that while the art work develops and matures the artist also goes through a maturation of self-image and over time, with an accumulation of work or exhibitions or sales, you begin to recognize that you are an artist. This is especially true if, like me, the artist stops taking jobs in other fields. As an artist in Cape Breton I have all of the advantages: beauty of place, solitude, an inspirational culture, a slow pace of life and a lot of work hours in a day. You get to do things on your own terms here. The disadvantages that go right along with this are that you are isolated from many other artists and their work and there are relatively few opportunities to show without great effort in promotion, packaging and transport of the art. Even more than artists living in city centers the "outlying" artist needs an agent. That's were the Web seems to be filling a need. In a few months I will have my own web site and be represented by two other sites both based in Nova Scotia but having an international market. Images of my sculpture will be seen on the Web by thousands of people a day year round. This is a serious increase of viewers to an artist who would only hope to have, optimistically, one major gallery exhibition per year. This same web presence serves as a way for artists to share their work. It is also an easily accessed digital portfolio which can be used for acquiring grants, commissions or project work. The Web for the artist, to use a metaphor, is a pumpkin for a princess. Well used it has great potential.

- by Sharon Trueman

Designs for my sculptures begin in a variety of ways. They may start from my poetry or other writings, a conversation, from an experience while working with children and families, or from walking in nature.
The idea then gets transferred to a three-dimensional drawing that is similar to an architectural drafting plan. Drawings may remain just another page in a book for years before some other event triggers in me a desire to bring the drawing into three dimensional form.
At this juncture, I most often select clay to create a model of my drawing, but have also proceeded directly to the carving process in stone or wood. During the clay modeling stage. I am often searching for inventive ways to unite the differing view points. These clay models like the drawings, may sit on a shelf drying for weeks. I often return to the dried model and begin to carve it in order to achieve the texture I prefer. I do prefer carving rather than modeling in clay. My uncle, Armand Pica was a wood carver and fine furniture maker. Before he died he gave me a fine set of carving chisels. I enjoy some of the old traditions in carving but also use a variety of power tools. When I perceive that the clay model is ready, I begin looking through my stock piles of wood and stone. I prefer carving in hard woods and soft stone such as Alabaster and marble. I prefer deeply colored stone, but such color often represents a change in texture or hardness in the stone. Such a stone may present structural abnormalities that require respect and a slight change in design. Both the stone and I are then engaged in a change process.
I believe sculpture must invite touch. I intend to finish my pieces with a variety of textures. I have been inspired by the way stone can be cut thin enough to become translucent. I am also experimenting with interior carving techniques that allow me to hollow parts of the stone and to insert an electric light so that the sculpture is illuminated from within.
Most of my sculptures can be displayed in the home or garden. Some of my pieces can withstand freezing temperatures. These pieces range in weight from 20-200 pounds.
I am also willing to discuss commission work with you. I like the challenge of co-creating. The process of creating is equally as important at the end product.

- by Luigi Costanzo

My paintings evolve out of my appreciation for the environment as I find it. This includes the rugged, worn, rusty, funky and unplanned aspects of things as they are. I paint representationally with a careful eye to light and color. I enjoy exploring phenomena in search of the elements that compose my work. The weathered shacks, the winding roads, the backs and fronts of signs, and the views of places somewhat out of balance are all fascinating to me. I enjoy exaggerating perspective, flattening-out space in panoramic map-like views, and I invite the viewer to take a few moments to travel these roads with me. They lead to fictional places, taken apart and reassembled as metaphors of coastal places, cityscapes and roads.
My sense of light is Northern. It's low angled with lots of long, dark shadows. My sense of color is that I respond to vivid color and feel that it needs to be balanced with more subtle and darker shades to find a place in my paintings. Literally, the bright colors play on deeper grounds. The scenes that I depict have sparked me in some way. They have woken me up and I view that as an invitation to explore the motif in paint. Removing things, changing things, editing and emphasizing are part of the process of creating pictorial effect. The drawing structure finds its way to the canvas and gives me a skeletal framework onto which I can build color. Areas are established and changed. Areas are painted in and painted out. I'm finding that these changes add a great deal to the sparkle and surface interest of the canvas. I look to find contexts for the bold colors to find a way to belong in the painting.
I have really only one strong experience that guides my vision as a painter and image maker. Ordinary objects, and ordinary places can be very beautiful when the lighting is great. This happens everywhere. My imagery reflects an appreciation and response to this kind of light.

- by Paul Hannon


These are original hand pulled prints. A 'plate' is made by applying a mixture of carborundum powder and acrylic medium onto a piece of board or plexiglass. Once dry, the plate is inked and placed on a press with a damp piece of paper on top. When this is run through the press the ink transfers from the plate to the paper. As well, the raised surfaces of the plate emboss the paper. Small editions (15-20) can be made by re-inking the plate and repeating process.

Watercolour paints are used to paint an image onto a plexiglass plate. The dry plate is placed on a press with a piece of damp paper on top. The pressure of the press transfers the paints onto the paper only one print can be made from each painted plate - thus the 'mono' type.

on the work of Wendy Morosoff-Smith

A cast paper sculpture print is the most exciting new medium to emerge in the art field this century. It begins with the artist creating the image as a 'bas relief' sculpture in clay and, from this, a limited edition of the work is formed in cast paper.
The initial sculpture is covered in several layers of soft catalytic rubber at the fine arts studio/printshop. This forms a negative mold of the image and, from this mold, a plaster positive 'maquette' is produced. The artist then refines the work to eliminate undercuts and smooth the surface to conform to his exacting standards. When the plaster has been brought up to standard, the final casting mold of silicone is poured and production of the edition is ready to commence.
Preparation of the paper pulp begins with the beating of IOO's cotton linter fibres into a pulp form by use of a Hollander paper beater machine. Infinite care is taken to be certain the quality, texture and tensile strength of the fibres will be suitable for the forming process of cast paper.
The fibres are beaten in neutral pH water which has been filtered and purified to ensure the pulp conforms to conservation standards. In the studio/printshop this pulp is then poured, as a watery slurry, into the casting mold. Over a period of several hours the technician begins the slow detailed process of extracting the water by hand. Finally, when the water has been extracted and the pulp has been formed into a thick sheet or 'cast' of paper conforming to the intricate details of the casting mold, it is placed in a special drying rack in a climate controlled drying room for a few days.
All our cast paper sculpture prints are individually pulled by hand and therefore have those certain unique characteristics typical of all original fine art prints. Upon completion of the edition, all molds and maquettes are detroyed or defaced and both the artist and studio/printshop director sign a print documentation to certify the edition.

- by Shirley deLang