Artist Glynis Wilson Boultbee prepares her show titled “shrug” in the Drawing Room at the Recreation Centre in Red Deer. For the next two months her drawings of shoulders will be on exhibit in the Corridor Community Gallery in the basement of the Recreation Centre.

A shrug of thanks to the people who believed

After many years of “yearning” to be an artist, 57-year-old Glynis Wilson Boultbee is finally studying visual arts at Red Deer College. It was a case of mind over matter for the Red Deer resident, who’s done other artistic things, such as written poetry, but never thought she could ever create recognizable images on paper. “I just got it in my head that I could not draw, that it was closed off for me,” she said.

After many years of “yearning” to be an artist, 57-year-old Glynis Wilson Boultbee is finally studying visual arts at Red Deer College.

It was a case of mind over matter for the Red Deer resident, who’s done other artistic things, such as written poetry, but never thought she could ever create recognizable images on paper.

“I just got it in my head that I could not draw, that it was closed off for me,” she said.

Wilson Boultbee finally came to grips with her fear after doing a drawing a day for a year. After seeing gradual improvements, she got up her nerve and enrolled in the RDC visual arts program in the fall of 2013.

But one doesn’t return to school after so many years without a little help from some friends.

“I spent some time thinking about what a gift it was to have these people who helped me,” recalled the consultant and former post-secondary learning assistant. The group “that played a significantly supportive role,” includes her husband, local artist Paul Boultbee, teachers and others who offered encouragement and advice “that helped me get some more structure in my life. …”

Wilson Boultbee is acknowledging their kindness through an appropriate expression of thanks — her first solo art show.

The exhibit, Shrug, runs to Nov. 30 in the Corridor Gallery, downstairs in the Red Deer Recreation Centre. It contains 10 graphite drawings of her subjects (nine are of her supporters). But their faces don’t appear on paper.

Wilson Boultbee is instead focusing on details of their clothing, usually around their shoulders.

“My hope was to create ‘portraits’ that hinted about what I valued about these people, but without depending on the usual clues found in the face,” she said in her artist statement.

Wilson Boultbee, who’s now in her second year of part-time art studies at the college, came up with the idea for the exhibit last fall when a class assignment required that she capture the tonal values in a back-and-white photograph.

While trying to depict the photographed shoulder and arm of a person wearing a furry coat, she became immersed in creating the texture of the garment. She wanted to “inspire in viewers a desire to touch it.”

She enjoyed this challenge so much, she wanted to keep drawing shoulders and textured garments, so last December she put in a proposal for this solo show, with the idea that it would motivate her to keep producing.

Since the artist wanted to draw her supportive friends, she approached them earlier this year and asked them to pick out an outfit to wear. She then took photos that became source material for her drawings.

The series of artworks includes: details of a sweater, pearls and a corsage, two jean shirts, a long-sleeved T-shirt and wool suit, among other things. Small fragmented backdrops reveal lattice fencing, barn board and empty picture frames.

Wilson Boultbee doesn’t intend to disclose what these things say about the persons depicted, or even who each person is in her drawings. She wants to preserve the mystery so viewers can come up with their own ideas and questions.

For her the project became a kind of “oasis.”

She concluded: “If you’re having a rough time, it’s helpful to ‘hang out’ for some portion of every day with your heartfelt gratitude for people whose gifts and talents have inspired you.”

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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