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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Robert-Ralph Carmichael

Robert was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario in 1937.
He currently lives and works in Echo Bay, Ontario.

The major theme in my work is the human condition -- our relationship to the environment -- our relationship to each other.

The works are a culmination of ideas, images and symbols that come together in an intuitive manner -- guided by a sense of rightness -- they belong together.

Each viewer, of course, brings to the work his or her own set of life experiences from which to access it. None of the works are totally readable -- they are open observations rather than closed statements. I hope that they continue to reveal new levels of meaning as new experiences are brought to them.

I feel that representational painting has much yet to offer -- if not in terms of how we paint then certainly in terms of why we paint.

There cannot be a more exciting tool with which to explore the most mysterious and fascinating subject known to mankind -- the human mind.


1959 A.O.C.A., Ontario College of Art, Toronto.
1964 Bachelor of Arts, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON.


1994 The honorary degree of Doctor of Letters was received at Algoma University College in Sault Ste. Marie, ON
(An affiliate of Laurentian University, Sudbury)

© Robert-Ralph Carmichael

Helen Flockhart

Born: Hamilton, Scotland 1963

1980-85 Studied painting at Glasgow School of Art
1984 Awarded BA(hons) FIRST CLASS
1985 Awarded Diploma in Postgraduate Studies HIGHLY COMMENDED
1985-86 Studied painting at the State Higher School of Fine Art in Poznan, Poland


2006 Humphreys Prize, Discerning Eye Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London
2000 First prize, Noble Grossart/Scotland on Sunday painting competition
1997 Armour Award, Royal Glasgow Institute
1997 Fellowship of Glasgow Art Club
1997 Royal Overseas League Award for an artist living and working in Scotland
1996 Purchase prize, Smith Art Gallery and Museum Stirling for their Brave Art exhibition
1992 Grant from the Pollok-Krasner Foundation, New York
1992 Second prize, Inverclyde Biennial, Maclean Museum and Art Gallery, Greenock
1991 Scottish Arts Council assistance grant
1989 Scottish Arts Council Bursary
1985 British Council Scholarship to study at the State Higher School of Fine Art, Poznan, Poland
1984 Emmy Sachs Prize for Drawing

Probably the easiest way of shedding some light on the thinking behind my paintings is to touch on the process from which they evolve.

The pictures emerge from an instinctive process which is initially quite abstract, beginning as tiny, almost geometric studies in which the relationship between shapes and the space which they inhabit is pushed around. From there, the figure is fleshed out and other compositional elements suggest themselves. Sometimes autobiographical, but just as often mythical or invented scenarios are woven in. I edge towards what feels like the finished idea, which it seems is already sitting somewhere just out of reach, not yet seen. At this stage the work is still on paper and tiny and holds an energy and immediacy which I try not to lose in the execution of the painting, especially the drawing of the face which is key. It may only be a few millimetres in size but is central to the success of the painting.

The paintings more or less fall into two categories - portrait format and landscape format. The portraits are a form to which I keep returning and are a crucial anchor point. They have evolved over the years but essentially deal with the relationship between myself and the outside world. Around 20 years ago they were scrunched, retracted figures exposing the minimum surface area possible to the viewer and enveloped by a luminous black background. Now they are at full stretch but the background is dense and opaque, cluttered with pattern or texture. I wish the figure to seem enclosed by the background as if it were a three dimensional positive form, not a flat surface in front of which the figure stands. Detail on the clothing, such as beading or lacework, serves the function of both embellishment and something akin to armour.

The landscapes spring from a place between the world we know and another, on the edge of conciousness. They allow me to plunder the realm of the imagination and also to indulge my passion for plants which I grow, covet, study and paint. And occasionally invent if the plant I require does not exist.

Many of the paintings employ repetition as a device as with, for example, the plants, patterns, textures and grass. I like the rhythm and hypnotic quality which results and this repetition can be both reassuring and menacing. In all of the work I'm constantly pushing and pulling the elements to create, for example, tension or harmony, a clash or dischord. But always, according to my own particular criteria, I strive to create a beautiful object and to communicate my experience of the human condition.

© Helen Flockhart

Ron Isaacs

Trompe l’Oeil Constructions

Objects have great power for me. Natural or made, they have silent lives and histories which are borne on their surfaces. They show growth and decay, use and wear, care and neglect, and they accumulate in my life and works as signs of memory and loss and beauty. They are evidence of who we were and are. There is also mystery just in the voiceless physical presence of an object; I believe it was Claes Oldenburg who once declared that the harder he looked at a thing, the more mysterious it became. I know the feeling.

I have to make things; I can't help it. I could use real objects to make assemblages, installations, or collages, but that doesn't seem enough. My basic technique of building elaborate relief constructions of Finnish birch plywood and painting them in trompe l’oeil fashion has its own deep satisfactions of process and problem solving, but it also serves as a means of understanding the objects and creating the images I want to deal with. Trompe l’oeil ("fool the eye") often has been a gimmick for an artist to show off technical skills, a fairly shallow if entertaining enterprise, but its devices seem an appropriate response to my love of the visual world. (Perhaps "only God can make a tree," but I can make a pretty good stick.) The risk is that the piece may fall into simple minded mimesis and nostalgia. I would hope that whatever technical skill I have might be seen as being in the service of my personal vision and not as an end in itself.

I was trained as a painter, and these works grew gradually out of painting problems to become a hybrid about halfway between painting and sculpture. The construction of a piece usually requires about half the work, and the painting the other half. My strategy is to build as much of the detail of the surface as I can without making myself crazy, then to rely on the paint to carry the rest of the illusion. The works are fairly detailed, but many other artists are willing to go much further into minutiae than I.

Each object in my work has a triple role: As a design element in a still life composition; as "itself," a thing with a past and a function and a number of possible meanings and associations; and as a recreated new thing, made by an artist. I never want the pieces to become pretentious, but I do want them to be as richly evocative as I can make them. As the viewer, please feel free to bring your own “readings” to each of these. And if narratives are implied, they are also left to you.

But the work remains largely about the joys of making and of seeing. I am still fascinated by the old simple idea of resemblance, the very first idea of art after tools and shelter: That an object fashioned of one material can take on the outward appearance and therefore some of the "reality" of another. (It is little wonder that art quickly became allied with magic.) In this intellectualized, issue oriented and concept driven art world, I hope the old idea can still find welcome. It often seems almost enough for me.

Born October 14, 1941, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., M.F.A. in painting, 1965; Woodrow Wilson Fellow, 1963.
Berea College, Berea, Ky., B.A., major in art, 1963.
Art Academy of Cincinnati, summer session, 1962.

Professor Emeritus, Art; taught painting and drawing at Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond,
Ky., from 1969 until retirement in May, 2001.
Instructor of Art, Union College, Barbourville, Ky., summer, 1968.
Instructor of Art, Sue Bennett College, London, Ky., 1965-69.

© Ron Isaacs


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