Charity Dakin : Creative Living

By Wendy Stefansson

Charity Dakin

Outside, it is a snowy Tuesday morning in February. Inside, I am looking at an accidental still-life: a hunting bow and colourful arrows lean against a wall next to a wooden easel. Clustered on a table nearby are a birch log, a jar full of paintbrushes, and a book of paintings by Frederick Remington. To my left is a deer’s skull and antlers. To my right, are tacked pictures of foxes, and actual fishing lures. Oh, and a computer. It is an eclectic mixture of the timeless and the cutting-edge.

These are the tools of Charity Dakin’s trade, and it is her studio in which I am standing. Charity is a young mother, and an accomplished artist from Manning, Alberta. And as it turns out, the deer skull is the relic not only of a hunting trip and a winter’s worth of venison, but also of the subject of her painting, Aspen King. In the painting, the deer looks intently at the viewer, not as prey at predator, but eye to eye; with recognition. There is a connection there. The painting is small, but compelling; the tone of it quiet but eloquent, communicating everything.

Halibu - Charity Dakin

Charity grew up on the land, living on farms first in the Fraser Valley, and later in central Alberta. Now, in this small rural community, she is raising her own family. She and her husband have dreams of moving to an acreage, and starting a small hobby farm. When they fantasize about winning a million dollars, Charity talks about having her own chicken coop. She smokes her own salmon, and is working out a recipe for making her own sausages from her venison. Remembering her rural roots, she says: “I spent hours drawing when I was a kid, and I spent even more time actually just looking. You know, watching animals, how they move, their anatomy …. I was always out in the ditches, and in the back fields, slopping around in rubber boots. I just remember being a kid who watches things, and I still watch things now.”

This habit of patient watching is evident in the keenly observed quality of her work; the finely rendered details, the ring of truth. When Charity sits down to create a work of art, she begins with numerous pencil sketches. She will try it out in one or more colour schemes using paint; then she will scan various elements into her computer and move them around using Photoshop until she finds the best composition. Along the way, she makes notes to herself, in the margins. It is a laborious and timeconsuming process, but her sketches could pass for finished works of art in themselves.

Morning EncounterA self-taught artist, Charity describes her education as “a lot of trial and error; looking at the world around me and then looking at my paintings; and playing with the mediums, and seeing how they work.” Her mediums of choice include graphite, pastels and acrylic paints. Her subjects: wildlife, farm animals, local landscapes, and aboriginal people. These are choices that connect her to 150 years of painting on the prairies (think Frederick Remington and Paul Kane), as well as to other contemporary Canadian artists (think Robert Bateman). More importantly, they are choices that connect her to a growing viewing audience. She says: “My art is about responding and reacting to the things that I see around me, and the things that are important to me. And it happens to be something that a lot of other people find endearing, and they like what I do. So I don’t really have to paint for a market; I paint what’s important to me, and what I love.”

At the same time, Charity takes nothing for granted in the world of art marketing. She acknowledges: “If you want to make a living out of art, you have to have an element of business and marketing. You have to.” All of her work is professionally reproduced, but she takes charge of as much of the process as possible, right from the digital imaging to the final printing. She prints editions of 50 to 150, for which she has found gallery representation in Peace River and Edmonton. She sells most of her originals privately or through Night of Artists events. Like her life, her art career is a hands-on process. “I don’t really think anybody owes me a living,” she says.

Charity’s prints are available at Frameworks Gallery and Claire’s Custom Framing in Peace River, and Birks Art Gallery in Edmonton. You can also find her work online at www.NightOfArtists.com.


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Mountain town panorama keeps them inspired By Jody Farrel http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/clusters-of-blue.jpg" alt="Clusters of Blue by Evelyn Sutter" align="right" height="275" width="180" />

Evelyn Suter

Evelyn Suter's Clusters of Blue is a pretty convincing argument for the monoprint's contribution to the world of painting and prints. Something in the marks that are added to and subtracted from the work give it a sumptuous textural look that isn't found in traditional watercolour. Yet, the soft and airy quality that often gives watercolour the edge over more textured paints is still very present.Suter's own excitement around the process is catchy, and she converted many new enthusiasts at an exhibition in Grande Prairie two years ago. One can almost read in her animated explanation of the sheer mystery of the monoprint process, that she seeks out wonder in life and is willing to risk losing a little control to get it."It's that element of surprise I love," Suter says. She generously shares the process in workshops.This sense of wonder may have influenced her choice to retire to Grande Cache five years ago. Its "pristine views" and a great campaign to get people to relocate drew her there.But, like many who are inspired by life and its many mysteries, Suter is hardly the retiring type. She integrated into the community soon after her arrival, discovering Palette Pals, an arts group that meets and exhibits locally. She is currently its past president. Suter credits a photography course she took years ago with giving her a keen sense of composition. "Everything I do is evocative," she says of her intention in her work. "When it's successful, it calls to people, and tells them something."

http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/clusters-of-blue.jpg" alt="Baneberry by Joan Beland" align="right" height="176" width="225" /> Joan Beland

Like many artists, Joan Beland experimented with paints in her search for the medium that best suited her personality and style. The Grande Cache artist found oils too messy, and while she did like acrylics and had used them for years, she still works in ink and pencil, it was watercolour that best captured her mark."I like detail, and like to draw," Beland says. Watercolours afford her that combination of drawing and colour. They also give the self-professed lover of all things tidy a chance to play around without wreaking havoc. "You can get such a variety of colours without making a mess. They really suit the way I paint."She loves nature, and while some of her work depicts the town's mountainous landscape, Beland is finding herself more drawn to nature close-up and still life these days. Her Baneberry watercolour, as well as one of Mount Hamel, is currently on tour with the Alberta Foundation for the Arts TREX Exhibition Out on the Mountain, Deep in the Woods. The show features selected works of The Grande Cache Watercolour Society, and is made available through The Prairie Art Gallery in Grande Prairie. TREX coordinator, Sue Cloake Millar, notes that the intimacy of the baneberry painting is what caught her eye in selecting works for the exhibition.Esteemed Grande Cache painter and mentor Robert Guest says Beland consistently does good work. Beland is humbled by the praise. "I don't work outside," she confesses. "I work from pictures I take. I like to be comfortable, and have everything in place. Even my housework must be done." http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/clusters-of-blue.jpg" alt="Sharing the News by James Harvey" align="right" height="266" width="200" />

James Harvey

As James Harvey casually rattles off contributions to advertising and commercial illustration over his several decades-long career, you can't help but wonder how he wound up retiring in Grande Cache. The baby face on the Gerber cereal box; the Alberta wild rose design, the Edmonton Oilers and Travel Alberta logos are just a few of the marks he produced in a field that has seen tremendous change over the years. He'd worked in New York, Toronto and Winnipeg before moving to Calgary and Edmonton. He'd worked for the CBC, Imperial Oil, Proctor and Gamble, and Alberta Tourism and saw graphic design and advertising explode into the powerful medium it is today.Harvey and his partner Trudy moved to Grande Cache in 2002 after witnessing the towns spectacular mountain panorama while visiting friends. It's where he first tried watercolours, having only ever used felt pen in his commercial design work. His paintings still bear that illustrative style; they are unique in their combination of watercolour and felt marker hatchings. His drawing Sharing the News, reminiscent of once popular newspaper and magazine illustrations, tells a layered story of man's relationship with nature and how tuned out we sometimes are to what is real."I'm no teacher," Harvey says dismissively. Still, he has an affinity for getting people to create, and is an active mentor-participant in the Grande Cache Watercolour Society. He was recently made its president and has created a logo and poster for the society's May- June show.Grande Cache may remind Harvey of childhood years in Northern Ontario, where his father was a bush pilot and conservationist. The mountain town seems to have restored some deep-seated passions he alludes to having lost before moving there. He has all kinds of building and art projects on the go, and speaks with conviction about Grande Cache's potential to house a northern fine arts centre."It's a wonderful little town," he says. "The people here are so neat."
12 years ago

Mountain town panorama keeps them inspired By Jody Farrel http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/clusters-of-blue.jpg" alt="Clusters of Blue by Evelyn Sutter" align="right" height="275" width="180" />

Evelyn Suter

Evelyn Suter's Clusters of Blue is a pretty convincing argument for the monoprint's contribution to the world of painting and prints. Something in the marks that are added to and subtracted from the work give it a sumptuous textural look that isn't found in traditional watercolour. Yet, the soft and airy quality that often gives watercolour the edge over more textured paints is still very present.Suter's own excitement around the process is catchy, and she converted many new enthusiasts at an exhibition in Grande Prairie two years ago. One can almost read in her animated explanation of the sheer mystery of the monoprint process, that she seeks out wonder in life and is willing to risk losing a little control to get it."It's that element of surprise I love," Suter says. She generously shares the process in workshops.This sense of wonder may have influenced her choice to retire to Grande Cache five years ago. Its "pristine views" and a great campaign to get people to relocate drew her there.But, like many who are inspired by life and its many mysteries, Suter is hardly the retiring type. She integrated into the community soon after her arrival, discovering Palette Pals, an arts group that meets and exhibits locally. She is currently its past president. Suter credits a photography course she took years ago with giving her a keen sense of composition. "Everything I do is evocative," she says of her intention in her work. "When it's successful, it calls to people, and tells them something."

http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/clusters-of-blue.jpg" alt="Baneberry by Joan Beland" align="right" height="176" width="225" /> Joan Beland

Like many artists, Joan Beland experimented with paints in her search for the medium that best suited her personality and style. The Grande Cache artist found oils too messy, and while she did like acrylics and had used them for years, she still works in ink and pencil, it was watercolour that best captured her mark."I like detail, and like to draw," Beland says. Watercolours afford her that combination of drawing and colour. They also give the self-professed lover of all things tidy a chance to play around without wreaking havoc. "You can get such a variety of colours without making a mess. They really suit the way I paint."She loves nature, and while some of her work depicts the town's mountainous landscape, Beland is finding herself more drawn to nature close-up and still life these days. Her Baneberry watercolour, as well as one of Mount Hamel, is currently on tour with the Alberta Foundation for the Arts TREX Exhibition Out on the Mountain, Deep in the Woods. The show features selected works of The Grande Cache Watercolour Society, and is made available through The Prairie Art Gallery in Grande Prairie. TREX coordinator, Sue Cloake Millar, notes that the intimacy of the baneberry painting is what caught her eye in selecting works for the exhibition.Esteemed Grande Cache painter and mentor Robert Guest says Beland consistently does good work. Beland is humbled by the praise. "I don't work outside," she confesses. "I work from pictures I take. I like to be comfortable, and have everything in place. Even my housework must be done." http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/clusters-of-blue.jpg" alt="Sharing the News by James Harvey" align="right" height="266" width="200" />

James Harvey

As James Harvey casually rattles off contributions to advertising and commercial illustration over his several decades-long career, you can't help but wonder how he wound up retiring in Grande Cache. The baby face on the Gerber cereal box; the Alberta wild rose design, the Edmonton Oilers and Travel Alberta logos are just a few of the marks he produced in a field that has seen tremendous change over the years. He'd worked in New York, Toronto and Winnipeg before moving to Calgary and Edmonton. He'd worked for the CBC, Imperial Oil, Proctor and Gamble, and Alberta Tourism and saw graphic design and advertising explode into the powerful medium it is today.Harvey and his partner Trudy moved to Grande Cache in 2002 after witnessing the towns spectacular mountain panorama while visiting friends. It's where he first tried watercolours, having only ever used felt pen in his commercial design work. His paintings still bear that illustrative style; they are unique in their combination of watercolour and felt marker hatchings. His drawing Sharing the News, reminiscent of once popular newspaper and magazine illustrations, tells a layered story of man's relationship with nature and how tuned out we sometimes are to what is real."I'm no teacher," Harvey says dismissively. Still, he has an affinity for getting people to create, and is an active mentor-participant in the Grande Cache Watercolour Society. He was recently made its president and has created a logo and poster for the society's May- June show.Grande Cache may remind Harvey of childhood years in Northern Ontario, where his father was a bush pilot and conservationist. The mountain town seems to have restored some deep-seated passions he alludes to having lost before moving there. He has all kinds of building and art projects on the go, and speaks with conviction about Grande Cache's potential to house a northern fine arts centre."It's a wonderful little town," he says. "The people here are so neat."
12 years ago

Mountain town panorama keeps them inspired By Jody Farrel http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/clusters-of-blue.jpg" alt="Clusters of Blue by Evelyn Sutter" align="right" height="275" width="180" />

Evelyn Suter

Evelyn Suter's Clusters of Blue is a pretty convincing argument for the monoprint's contribution to the world of painting and prints. Something in the marks that are added to and subtracted from the work give it a sumptuous textural look that isn't found in traditional watercolour. Yet, the soft and airy quality that often gives watercolour the edge over more textured paints is still very present.Suter's own excitement around the process is catchy, and she converted many new enthusiasts at an exhibition in Grande Prairie two years ago. One can almost read in her animated explanation of the sheer mystery of the monoprint process, that she seeks out wonder in life and is willing to risk losing a little control to get it."It's that element of surprise I love," Suter says. She generously shares the process in workshops.This sense of wonder may have influenced her choice to retire to Grande Cache five years ago. Its "pristine views" and a great campaign to get people to relocate drew her there.But, like many who are inspired by life and its many mysteries, Suter is hardly the retiring type. She integrated into the community soon after her arrival, discovering Palette Pals, an arts group that meets and exhibits locally. She is currently its past president. Suter credits a photography course she took years ago with giving her a keen sense of composition. "Everything I do is evocative," she says of her intention in her work. "When it's successful, it calls to people, and tells them something."

http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/clusters-of-blue.jpg" alt="Baneberry by Joan Beland" align="right" height="176" width="225" /> Joan Beland

Like many artists, Joan Beland experimented with paints in her search for the medium that best suited her personality and style. The Grande Cache artist found oils too messy, and while she did like acrylics and had used them for years, she still works in ink and pencil, it was watercolour that best captured her mark."I like detail, and like to draw," Beland says. Watercolours afford her that combination of drawing and colour. They also give the self-professed lover of all things tidy a chance to play around without wreaking havoc. "You can get such a variety of colours without making a mess. They really suit the way I paint."She loves nature, and while some of her work depicts the town's mountainous landscape, Beland is finding herself more drawn to nature close-up and still life these days. Her Baneberry watercolour, as well as one of Mount Hamel, is currently on tour with the Alberta Foundation for the Arts TREX Exhibition Out on the Mountain, Deep in the Woods. The show features selected works of The Grande Cache Watercolour Society, and is made available through The Prairie Art Gallery in Grande Prairie. TREX coordinator, Sue Cloake Millar, notes that the intimacy of the baneberry painting is what caught her eye in selecting works for the exhibition.Esteemed Grande Cache painter and mentor Robert Guest says Beland consistently does good work. Beland is humbled by the praise. "I don't work outside," she confesses. "I work from pictures I take. I like to be comfortable, and have everything in place. Even my housework must be done." http://www.artofthepeace.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/clusters-of-blue.jpg" alt="Sharing the News by James Harvey" align="right" height="266" width="200" />

James Harvey

As James Harvey casually rattles off contributions to advertising and commercial illustration over his several decades-long career, you can't help but wonder how he wound up retiring in Grande Cache. The baby face on the Gerber cereal box; the Alberta wild rose design, the Edmonton Oilers and Travel Alberta logos are just a few of the marks he produced in a field that has seen tremendous change over the years. He'd worked in New York, Toronto and Winnipeg before moving to Calgary and Edmonton. He'd worked for the CBC, Imperial Oil, Proctor and Gamble, and Alberta Tourism and saw graphic design and advertising explode into the powerful medium it is today.Harvey and his partner Trudy moved to Grande Cache in 2002 after witnessing the towns spectacular mountain panorama while visiting friends. It's where he first tried watercolours, having only ever used felt pen in his commercial design work. His paintings still bear that illustrative style; they are unique in their combination of watercolour and felt marker hatchings. His drawing Sharing the News, reminiscent of once popular newspaper and magazine illustrations, tells a layered story of man's relationship with nature and how tuned out we sometimes are to what is real."I'm no teacher," Harvey says dismissively. Still, he has an affinity for getting people to create, and is an active mentor-participant in the Grande Cache Watercolour Society. He was recently made its president and has created a logo and poster for the society's May- June show.Grande Cache may remind Harvey of childhood years in Northern Ontario, where his father was a bush pilot and conservationist. The mountain town seems to have restored some deep-seated passions he alludes to having lost before moving there. He has all kinds of building and art projects on the go, and speaks with conviction about Grande Cache's potential to house a northern fine arts centre."It's a wonderful little town," he says. "The people here are so neat."
12 years ago