Three Women, Three Ways

Three Beaverlodge Artists
by Catherine McLaughlin

Darlene Dautel, Simple Elegance, batik on rice paper

Darlene Dautel

“I love having a ‘Mary Moffat’ kind of day!” Darlene Dautel exclaims, explaining that Moffat was her maternal grandmother who delighted in multi-tasking creative activity.

Dautel lives on a farm near Goodfare and is the Education Coordinator at Beaverlodge Area Cultural Centre. She teaches a variety of creative arts and enjoys working with children.

Although she works in a variety of media, Dautel is perhaps best known for her batik. She has made it her own by exploring different tools than those typically used, including air brush. “Batik is a thought process,” explains Dautel. “I have to have a plan and think it through.” She tacks up pieces in progress so she can see them wherever she is in the house and studies them often. Dautel paints for herself and sees the piece finished before she starts.

As a child Dautel was encouraged to the utmost whatever her endeavour. Born and raised in the Kootenays, she was surrounded by creative, resourceful people. At age 13 she took her first art-related class as an extra-curricular option at school.

“I love to take a class!” exclaims Dautel, who attended her first adult art class in Grande Prairie in her early twenties. “Can I try that?” she asked, eager to have the brush in her hand along with the new materials. “I need to try it, do it for myself, see how it’s done,” she says. “Creative work is a passion, a fire, something I need,” she explains.

Vivian Farnsworth, Dreaming of Spring Series #1, Mixed media on Yupo

Vivian Farnsworth

Keys, locks, doors and hinges are the subjects of many of Vivian Farnsworth’s paintings, a fascination that began when she was a child, collecting the small keys from canned meat. Her paintings usually depict objects, people, flowers and pets.

In 1999 Farnsworth attended a watercolour class taught by Marjorie Henn and became excited by its magic, the science of pigments and their reactions with the paper. “My head was reeling,” she exclaimed. Watercolour is her main medium today, although she also works in oil pastels and charcoal and has tried many other media, crafts and art forms.

For the last four years Farnsworth has operated Artsy Fartsy Custom Framing from her home on the farm north of La Glace. This business reduces the cost of showing her work and allows her to help other artists “finish their visions.”

Teaching art is a pleasure for Farnsworth who has been an Artist in the Classroom in Grande Prairie and given many other classes.

Farnsworth says she must make art. “Deep down, it has something to teach me. I make art over and over, like a dog with a bone.”

Marjorie Henn, Winter in the Peace, WatercolourMarjorie Henn

“I’m not happy when I’m not making art,” explains Marjorie Henn. “I need to do it, no matter what else is happening. It’s an emotional, spiritual kind of thing,” says the full-time artist who lives in Beaverlodge. The power of place dominates her work. “The Peace Country is so deep in me,” she states, referring to the landscape, the shapes and structures of hills and cliffs. “This is something I can see into.”

As a very young child, Henn made art. Her mother studied art by correspondence, then taught Marjorie the lessons. Her father, who encouraged as he critiqued, made her really look at things and challenged her to “show me!” “I have to know about a subject,” Henn explains when describing her habit of intensely studying her subject matter.

Henn’s diploma in commercial art from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary led to a 25-year career as a commercial artist, creating architectural illustrations from plans for houses and public buildings. Attention to detail is expressed in Henn’s work today. “Where does the eye go?” asks Henn, who is interested in realism and design, detail, drawing and composition in her preferred medium, watercolour.

Experiencing nature in solitude is her preference; she produces her best work while alone. “Getting into my studio and making art is like soft water flowing over me,” says Henn.

These three Beaverlodge Art Society members have exhibited their work in many venues including the 2004 Alberta Foundation for the Arts Travelling Exhibition (TREX) curated by Prairie Art Gallery.

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