Visual artistic communication thrilling for local artist

Across the Surface show to feature work of eight Nova Scotian realist artists

Published on July 8, 2014

From the time I was given my first crayon to make a mark in this world, visual artistic communication has always thrilled me.

Art really is another means of communicating with one another and we are a province rich in such communication. There are many different types of artistic styles and movements, some may speak to you and others may not.

Four years ago, eight of Nova Scotia's most prominent realist artists started meeting in Halifax. The group consists of Tom Forrestall, Paul Hannon, Ed Huner, Joy Laking, Gordon MacDonald, Shelley Mitchell, Susan Paterson and Steven Rhude. The group is registered as a society called PLANS (Professional Living Artists of Nova Scotia) and one of the goals of the group is to raise the profile of realist painting in Nova Scotia.

Realist painting, or realism, simply defined is: the subject looks like it does in real life, or "real." Realist painting was highly regarded in the mid-to-late 20th century Atlantic Canadian Art through Christopher and Mary Pratt, Alex Colville and Tom Forrestall, but it is now often at odds with the current mainstream academia. Capturing realism takes time, talent and skill. Days, weeks and months may be spent on a single painting. Steve Rhude describes it this way, "It still seems to me that the mind of the artist travels out through the eyes; a journey of sorts in order to navigate the nature of objects, or people - and especially the nature of place. There is a reliance on reality and imagination that takes place when coaxing a work into existence."

In September, we will have a chance as a community to view the artwork of these award winning realist artists. They are our artists, they live and work in Nova Scotia and we can share in their accomplishments and creations with pride. They are having an exhibit of their own work at the Nova Scotia Community College's McCarthy Art Gallery in Truro. Their exhibit, entitled “Across the Surface” will open on Friday, Sept. 5 and continue until Sept. 25.

Each of these extremely talented artists have individual styles and passions, and choose to use various mediums to create their masterpieces. Over the summer I invite you to learn more about these artists and develop a deeper appreciation for realist painting. Each week in this column you will discover a bit more about what realism is, along with an example of one of the featured artist's works, and in my weekly Colchester Weekly News column the personality of each artist will be revealed. I hope many of you will take the opportunity to meet them in person on Sept. 5. Their works reflect our province, people and landscape, our history, heritage and culture. Their works hang in galleries, homes, businesses and institutions throughout our land and in other countries and where ever their works go a bit of each us goes too. How awesome is that!


 Janice Guinan is a local artist who passionately believes in the importance of visual art. Her About Art column will appear each week in the Truro Daily News. Guinan also writes a weekly column for the Colchester Weekly News. Both can be viewed online at

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