Today’s interview is with Kathy Dyck. Thank you, Kathy, for joining me on my website.
Kathy Dyck has a B.Ed, a B.A. (Fine Arts major), and a Graduate Diploma in English as a Second Language.
I was born and raised on a small farm in southern Saskatchewan near the town of Creelman. I went to a one-room country schoolhouse with the lovely name of Sequin for the first eight years of my life. The experience of that kind of schooling gives one a sense of community and it shapes your thinking in many ways. After Sequin closed, we were bused to high school in Creelman, which, though it was only 10 miles away, seemed like a big foreign city.
After high school, I attended university in Regina, where I took Education and Art. I became a teacher and spent over 30 years teaching in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and finally Alberta. I started teaching Junior High French and Art, but later became an Elementary generalist teaching, at various times, grades from Kindergarten to Grade 4. During my career I had several years of interesting cultural experiences working with First Nations and Punjabi students. After many years of classroom work, I became a tutor teaching part-time at the Centre for Literacy in Edmonton where I work now. I find that experience very rewarding.
During my teaching career, I let my interest in art go to the “back burner.” However, once I retired from teaching in the classroom, I picked up the brush, got in touch with my “muse,” and started taking some classes again.
I understand you have an interest in writing as well as art. What kinds of pieces have you written?
Well, I do also have a bit of a “thing” for writing. As a child, I would make up poetry on my walks to school across the back quarter. I would write them in a little booklet, and then I even illustrated them. Unfortunately, I have since lost those booklets, but I would love to see them again. I also won first prize in several Saskatchewan Provincial Remembrance Day essay contests in high school. The prize money helped me buy clothes for school. My interest in writing led me to take several English courses at university, although I never took a creative writing course – something which I did want to do.
More recently, I have written at least ten articles for the Lendrum Grace Notes, which is our church publication. It is written to highlight people and activities in the church. I was the “reporter” who profiled the artists in our community, of which there was a surprising number.
I also wrote a Christmas story for the Lendrum Grace Notes called “The Joy of Christmases Past” based on my real experience of a one-room schoolhouse concert.
What prompted you to start painting? Where do you get your inspiration?
I was interested in art from a very early age. My mother was a primitive artist, which means she had natural talent but was not formally schooled in art. I watched her work and tried to copy her. From there, I took art courses at university. I began to teach art at the junior high level, but eventually moved to teaching other curriculum in elementary school.
When I was living in Victoria, BC, I took a class in Chinese brush painting. Later, I taught elementary school classes in Chinese brush techniques, bamboo, cherry blossom, and other standard forms. I did this for about five years.
As mentioned before, I didn’t get back to painting until shortly before I retired, when I was teaching part time and ready to retire.
Previously, I hadn’t painted in water colours, so I took classes from several different well-known and highly trained artists in and around Edmonton. I was quickly attracted to the challenge of water colour painting, and it became my medium of choice.
The inspiration for my paintings comes from nature, colour, and the effect of light, especially on plants. I’m particularly interested in how to show the way light appears on tropical plants because it comes more from directly above rather than sideways. I strive to show how the light glows and bounces around on the plant leaves. I have found this quite difficult to do, but I enjoy the technical challenge and have produced some pieces that I am very happy with.
Because of my exposure to Indigenous culture, I also developed an interest in the clothing of Pow Wow dancers. Their regalia are very beautiful, and movement of ribbons and feathers during the dance is mesmerizing.
I have done a small series of Native Dancers in regalia in which I try to capture these qualities.
Inspiration also comes from being connected with others in the art world. I belong to a small group of artists who meet regularly once a week. We discuss art techniques, show good books we’ve found, and gently critique each others work. This can be very helpful. One must be open to accepting criticism.
I also belong to a larger organization called The Society of Western Canadian Artists (SWCA for short).
This organization meets once a month and provides programs and workshops which are very helpful. I find that this contact with a group leads to opportunities. I have been Cover Artist in the SWCA monthly magazine, which means one of my paintings was used for the cover and an article was written about me. I also have been Feature Artist of the month, which also involves a write-up and a display of work.
How do you choose your subject?
I like to work from photographs that I’ve taken myself. That way I can say that the work is original. I have photographs of mountains, flowers, trees, people, buildings and so on. I choose the subject that I feel most inspired by at the moment, or something that presents a technical skill that I’d like to work on. Sometimes I combine parts from two or three different photos into one painting. Since I belong to an art club, I am often inspired by other artists’ choices of subject matter. Subject choice also sometimes rises out of workshops that I attend. For the most part, I prefer scenes of nature, flowers, and still life.
I’ve tried portraiture, but I find it very difficult to adequately capture the essence of a person. I am sure I will try it again. I don’t like abstract very much although I have tried some.
What is the hardest thing about painting? The easiest?
The hardest thing about painting is bringing the picture to the point that you feel it is good enough to stop. One is always one’s own worst critic, and there are an endless number of “corrections” that could be made. This is when it is good to have a painter friend who can help you by saying, “Stop!” Also, when working from a photo, there always comes a point at which you need to stop referring to the photo and do what the painting needs you to do. Sometimes it is hard to know when to do this.
The easiest thing for me is splashing on the bright colours. Rather than the easiest, perhaps it’s the most enjoyable. I love seeing the colours move and blend on the paper. It is becoming easier to watch what the paint is doing and follow its lead.
What is next for you?
I plan to continue working in water colours as much as I can. Recently, my health has caused a slow-down in my work time, but I am learning to deal with this. I hope to take more workshops and classes to expand my skills.
I would like to paint this tractor.
What special thing about yourself would you like people to know?
I have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which up to this point has only affected my stamina in terms of doing art. It may eventually affect my abilities, so I am learning to do what I can with what I have.
Where can we find you or buy your work?
Right now I have several paintings in two shows. Both are SWCA shows (details).
- One is at the Misericordia Hospital from Sept. 17 to Nov. 19, 2016 (16940 87 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5R 4H5) on the main floor.
The other is at the Allen Gray Continuing Care Centre from Sept. 24 to Nov. 26, 2016 on 50th Street and 28 th Avenue in Mill Woods (5005 28 Avenue, Edmonton, AB T6L 7G1).
I have had many individual shows in the past and may have more in the future.
I sell the paintings myself, out of my house.
I do not have my own website at this time, but I am on this website www.swcartists.ca, which belongs to the SWCA art club. Some of my pictures can be viewed there.
My profile on SWCA.
I’m in this gallery, but you have to search me by name or scroll down to D for Kathy Dyck.
Also I have some paintings on Facebook.
Thank you to Eva for the opportunity to share my art with you.
(I bought the one on the right!)