100 Steps Further In

Faro-based artist Jackie Irvine set herself a challenge. What if she painted one painting a day for 100 days?

Starting October 1, 2011 she did just that. And every day, even if she was stranded in Whitehorse without her acrylic paints, and had to go buy oil pastels to do it, she kept her commitment.

The paintings range in size from 8″x10″ to 6″x6″. They are all Yukon landscapes.

Irvine works primarily in acrylics, but also uses oil sticks or pastels depending on the situation. Sometimes she works from her own photos and those of friends, whom she credits.

She’s not rigidly reproducing these photos, but using them as reference and for the overall composition. Then she “shakes them off” and paints a scene from memory and imagination, resulting in a freer play of material and perhaps less realism, but more focus on the mood she’s creating.

She posted her paintings on her blog (www.jackieirvine.blogspot.com) as she created them. Small reflections or musings accompany many of the paintings, and most of them include a quotation from some other writer.

Irvine has read other people’s artist blogs with interest. But she finds when she’s painting “something else takes over.” All the skills she’s learned become fused into a wordless moment of painting.

Understandably, writing about that doesn’t come easily to her. But she wants her paintings to inspire people. So she chose quotations that she hoped people would find inspiring to accompany each painting. Often she’d Google quotations about rivers, for example, to accompany river paintings.

Irvine values blogging as a way to get her work out to a wider audience despite living in a remote community.

It even makes it easier for her fans in Faro, who are very supportive, to see her work in a place where showing opportunities are limited. She shows at the Faro restaurant as well.

Irvine and her husband Jeff have been developing an acreage at Magundy River, 30 km from Faro since 2005. Irvine homeschooled their three children out of town. When they grew into teenagers, the family moved into Faro, renting a home there. Because her books are not often not in the place she’s working, she uses Google as a mobile library for her research.

Irvine finds that living in Faro, children fly the nest quite quickly. Even her youngest, Benjamin, at the age of 14, has moved into Whitehorse to take part in the CHAOS program at the Wood Street school.

As her family responsibilities subside a little, Irvine has started to set goals for herself as an artist.

“I’ve been pretty prolific through the years. I’ve never not painted. But now I’m developing myself more in the public eye,” she says.

“What I really want to do is become a better painter.”

She undertook the 100 paintings project as a way to practise, to paint often and lots, to work hard. On January 8, she completed her 100th painting in the series.

Last fall Irvine hired a life coach for awhile to help her define her long-term goals as an artist. Liz Wiltzen, also a painter, had undertaken this kind of 100 paintings project before, and Irvine thought it was the right project for her to undertake right now.

Irvine looks forward to exploring plein air painting in the summertime on the family’s Magundy River acreage, as well as a week of plein air painting at the Mount Mye Sheep Centre near Faro right before the Annual Crane & Sheep Viewing Festival, which runs from May 11 to 13.

Doing these 100 paintings, Irvine discovered she likes the way an extended project such as this helps her focus. She’s still envisioning the next one.

In the meantime, you can see 70 of the paintings in a show called A Hundred Paintings in a 100 Days March 2 to 16 at the Yukon Artists @ Work Gallery on Industrial Road in Whitehorse.

Although Irvine lives out of town, she has chosen to be a shift-working artist, actively involved in the [email protected] cooperative.

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