Visually Speaking: A Mid-Year Update from Valley Artists

Visually Speaking: A Mid-Year Update from Valley Artists
Anna Horsnell

As promised, the artists who shared their goals for 2020 back in January are giving us an update on how they’re making out. There have been highs and lows. The creative community is resilient, but this time of pandemic has been a challenge for many, even as they share songs, images, and uplifting words on social media. Thank you to each artist below for sharing their thoughts openly and honestly.

Bob Hainstock
The Covid-19 storm has been financially punishing in terms of exhibiting and selling work in the half dozen Canadian galleries that carry my stuff, but almost two months of near isolation in the studio have been wonderful: 15 new “big sky” paintings, and a handful of new prints. More important, I finally had the time to rework our website,, to include work by my wife, Judy, our daughter, Meg, and her husband, Stephen, and paintings by my twin brother, Clay.

Twila Robar-Decoste
In March I finished the RBGE Edinburgh Certificate in Botanical Illustration, graduating with distinction. Since then I have created a few sculptural installations. I am having a bit of trouble focusing these days, so I am giving the creative process a bit of a rest while I enjoy many lovely and inspiring walks in the woods.

Heather Alexis Porter
During these pandemic times, creating feels even more crucial to help decrease the feelings of uncertainty and to feel more grounded while I continue with my own digging and scratching. Besides working on my own artwork, I organized a virtual art show on Facebook, with submissions from well-established artists, emerging artists, budding children artists, and all kinds of people who like and need to create. I think it is so important to nurture creativity.

Susan Spicer
Painting has been my saving grace over the last few months, allowing me to focus on something other than the news. I have spent many, many hours totally immersed in creating new pieces. I am so grateful for what has been a super productive time.

Ronald Hayes
Changes caused by Covid-19 have affected my creative work in surprising ways. One new thing I’ve started to do is make oil paint by hand. The slowed down atmosphere has given me time to explore. My upcoming exhibition with Michael Greer will open at ArtCan Gallery later in the year.

Judy Shedden
I’ve been super busy. In between sewing masks for the hospital, I managed to finish three paintings, so I think I’ve been busier during this time of isolation than I am normally. I still want to broaden my circle of contacts for art galleries once those establishments resume their business.

Eileen Boyd
I have not been creating art but I’ve been very busy working on a fundraiser for Oaklawn Farm Zoo and helping a local business redo the inside of their restaurant. I have completely organized, painted, and revamped my home and studio, ridding myself of unwanted stuff and making everything beautiful and most of all, finished! When creativity strikes again there will be nothing in my space to distract me. Overall, this has been a good time for me.

Ron Lightburn
Cold, wet weather and COVID-19 have conspired to scuttle my spring plein air painting plans in unexplored territory. Instead I’ll be rediscovering and re-imagining the familiar in my garden, when Mother Nature cooperates. Meanwhile I’m painting bigger, as planned, while practising social distancing in my warm and dry studio.

Betsey Harwood
Everything has changed since COVID-19. I started the year doing large landscapes, went to figurative, and am now painting small, intimate family groups. Isolation has been difficult. I miss family and friends and am seeing it reflected in my work.

Rachel Reeve
I am happy to say that five of my Gyotaku pieces are in Harvest Gallery’s current online exhibition, PRESS. My hopes of offering art sessions at my studio have been put on hold until restrictions are lifted.

Colleen Gerrits
I experienced a huge change from planning and teaching art classes each week to nothing. A hard pill to swallow. I realized just how much of my time is spent on classes and how much inspiration I get from my students! I told myself I had what I’ve always wanted: time to paint! However, I felt unmotivated, sad, and guilty. This only made my creative block even worse! I realize now that I was (and probably still am) grieving the loss of my old way of life and what I saw as “normal.” I had to stop comparing myself to those who were clearly doing far more than I was. I have started painting again and am taking it one day at a time.

Kate McKenna
During the first few weeks inside the surreal realm of social isolation I had little energy, inspiration, or motivation. I knew I wouldn’t make an end of March submission deadline. It all seemed quite pointless. Something shifted when I read an invitation to submit work for a virtual online gallery. Having a place to share, and a deadline, helped me turn things around. Since then I have taken photographs, worked on editing collections, created another new textile pattern, and shared new work on Instagram. So, when I learned that the gallery had extended their submission deadline from the end of March to the end of April, I got focused, started to write, and submitted my proposal.

Elizabeth Sircom
Covid-19 had the effect of eliminating most of what I had called the “centrifugal forces” that can whirl a person away from their focus. My own personal circumstances meant that I was largely confined to my studio, with a limited amount of online contact and teaching that was very precious to me. I found the slowed down, quieter world a nicer place to inhabit. The sculpture that had flown twice off the turntable stayed put and was completed.

Judith Leidl
My new website, though still a work in progress, is up and running (

Anna Horsnell
This time has been a gift in many ways, a reminder that everything is subject to change and perception makes all the difference. My solo show moved online and 14 Bells Fine Art Gallery did an amazing job. Viewers connected with the work and many pieces have found new homes. I am grateful and feeling very positive moving forward with new ideas and a renewed appreciation for life in general.

As we all move forward, watch for the opening of local galleries and craft shops, as well as online options. We have such a wealth of creative talent in this Valley, and buying local is more important than ever. Take care.