Quilting helped Red Deer artist Corinne Anderton get through some dark days while her husband was dying of cancer.
A couple decades later, she hopes the quilted and watercolour art showing in her Common Threads exhibit at the Red Deer Arts Council’s Community Gallery will help others discover something important about themselves.
“All of us have an artist inside us. We are all meant to create, in one way or another,” regardless of whether the medium is fabric, paint, or calligraphy ink, said Anderton.
“What I’ve done is so simple and user-friendly that I hope others will know that being an artist is no big deal, it’s just fun and very satisfying…and yet it’s also an important deal.”
Whenever people create, Anderton believes they establish a link to a greater creative force that works through them to yield something surprising and inspirational.
As a child growing up on a Saskatchewan farm, she was rarely exposed to painting or drawing. But her mother and her 4-H teacher were exceptional sewers, so Anderton learned how to put needle to fabric.
This skill helped her get through 2002, when her husband, former Red Deer College business teacher Alan Anderton, was slipping away from cancer.
Their four children were still teenagers at that time, recalled Anderton, who was working from home to be with Alan and be present for their kids.
“He was bed-ridden and needing lots of help,” she recalled. Anderton would quilt next to Alan’s bedroom to help fill the hours while being close enough to respond to his needs.
Sewing “helped soothe my own soul,” she recalled.
Two decades later, the meditative act still brings her comfort and opportunities for contemplation. “When I sew… I am washed over by waves of joy,” said Anderton.
Her artist statement for the Common Threads show expresses Anderton’s belief that women’s arts have historically been undervalued. Yet, “these works speak to the realities of everyday life — the interruptions, distractions, re-evaluations and challenges….
“They reference the legions of women in all our lives who quietly go about making the world a kinder, gentler, warmer and more beautiful place.”
Colour is integral to the quilts she creates. One of them, made in a traditional jewel-box design, has gradating tints throughout the colour wheel that darken towards the edges.
She recalled planning it by pinning a piece of flannel up to a wall of her home so she could map out the colour changes by using friction to stick her quilt pieces up and judge their effect.
Anderton, who later went back to school to take visual arts at Red Deer College (now Polytechnic), was inspired to create watercolour paintings that also show colour gradients.
Despite the spectrum of tints and tones in the exhibit, she said her palette only contains the three primary colours — red, blue and yellow.
“I get an infinite variety, from just those three tubes of paint.”
The show continues until April 5 at the Red Deer Arts Council’s Community Gallery at 4919-49th St.