Red Deer artist Margriet Hogue believes nature can be a soothing balm for the winter blues.
You don’t even have to leave home to feel some benefit, says Hogue, who photographed most of the bird and tree images used in her latest art exhibit from her windows.
“Watching the birds, observing how they behave… gives me a sense of peace. We are all living in a stressful world. (Yet) we are surrounded by nature. We need to enjoy it,” she adds.
The appropriately named Through My Window: Mixed-Media Works by Margriet Hogue display is being presented by the Red Deer Arts Council at the Kiwanis Gallery in Red Deer’s downtown public library.
Her abstract art incorporates graphic elements, juxtaposed with bold photographic imagery of birds and trees. Textures are built up in her works through the use of acrylic paint, collage, plaster and real twigs.
“There is something about cutting and tearing paper and playing around with the placement of it that’s just fun,” Hogue says in her artistic statement.
She starts by creating abstract backgrounds. Hogue then transfers her own reference photos onto the canvas. (She likes a certain amount of realism and believes viewers can “relate better” to art with recognizable focal points.)
“I scrape and gouge the layers and sand areas … there is something very satisfying as to what appears, and this is when happy accidents occur.”
The Netherlands native spent her formative years in Venezuela, where her father worked for Shell Oil, and also the Canadian East Coast. She moved to Alberta as a teenager in 1966, and went on to study textile design at Olds College and weaving at the Banff Centre.
After establishing her own needlework business in Victoria, Hogue returned to Alberta and worked as a custom dressmaker. She eventually took summer visual arts classes at Red Deer College and began appreciating the immediacy of working with a paintbrush instead of a needle.
She hopes gallery viewers will appreciate the tactile aspect of her works, and react to the tranquility depicted through her natural and abstract elements.
“If I lived by the ocean, I would sit by the ocean,” says Hogue. Instead, she feels a sense of calm watching the wind ripple through trees and prairie grasses.
“It looks like waves to me.”
The exhibit runs to Feb. 18. A First Friday opening will be held 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday.