This week we visit with one of our Peace River Chapter FCA members, Mary Parslow to find out a bit more about who she is, what motivates her to create art and more!
“My mission in life is to encourage, inspire and share creativity, love and personal growth.”
~Mary Parslow, AFCA
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself. Anything you'd like to share, perhaps where you live, where you were born?
A: I was born and raised near London, England and went to college majoring in Art and Education. My husband Charlie and I emigrated to Canada and lived in a variety of places before settling, in 1981, in the Peace Country- near Dawson Creek. We have raised four wonderful daughters here and now are fortunate to have 9 grandchildren who are our pride and joy.
Q: When did you first realize that you enjoyed creating art? Is there a particular person who supported your decision to pursue your goals? If so, in what way did you feel supported?
A: I’ve enjoyed art since I was a little kid and kept scrapbooks, sketches and scribbles since then. My Mum enjoyed all kinds of handwork and we spent a lot of time together doing projects. She passed on her love of nature to me and encouraged me to follow my natural bent. My husband Charlie has been my greatest champion in my adult life. He encourages my further education in art workshops and courses, he helps me with the technology aspects, he frames all my work and has even become an artist himself in the last few years.
Q: What is your motivation for creating art?
A: I want/need to really respond to whatever I find fascinating in life. I am expressive and enjoy dance, singing, poetry and storytelling. My art gives a voice to this need to express. My mission in life is to encourage, inspire and share creativity, love and personal growth.
Q: Do you have a favorite medium and if so, why?
A: Printmaking using Linocut is my favourite medium ( I do enjoy painting also.) I revel in the physicality of carving the Lino, the graphic and dramatic quality of the image, the layers of both transparent and opaque colours. I particularly enjoy portraying the aspects of pattern, rhythm, contrast, and curves in nature.
Mary's studio and printing press is shown in the photo on the right.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about some of your artworks and what they mean to you?
This started as a black and white tree Linocut which I eventually cut up and collaged onto another blue Lino print of the Peace River. The Peace River dominates our region and influences much of the landscape. The Site C Dam project will change forever the natural ecosystem and precious farmland close by. This art piece was my attempt to portray the topsy turvy feelings I have about the situation while trying to expose some of the beauty of the river.
The piece is my first successful 4 colour reduction Lino cut print. It is actually a signature piece for me, my first successful abstract piece and the first piece to win an award. It's bright, it's wild, and it demonstrates my love for the Peace River in a freeing kind of way. It remind me of Picasso whose work I admire for it’s expressive and unhindered liveliness. He was the artist who first created reduction Lino cuts.
This is a painting that started something. It’s called “Becca’s Bison". My daughter Rebecca is a sergeant in the RCMP and she asked me to paint her a Bison, not just an ordinary brown one but a colourful one for her office wall. So I painted this colorful fellow. This painting started the members of my family asking: What colourful animal are you going to paint for me Mum/ GrandMa? So here I am twelve animals later starting on a second round of family paintings. Nothing gives me more pleasure than doing that for my children and Grandchildren.
Q: When you create art do you listen to calming music, are you thinking of anything in particular or have any emotions at all?
A: Sometimes the music is Smooth Jazz, or Celtic folk music, or the Spa station, all music with no lyrics ....I have lots of emotions and become deeply connected to the image- I try not to overthink things as I want to capture the Spirit of the piece. Printmaking requires learning quite a few skills, some of which require considerable precision. That is where I think things through ahead of time..often in the shower, or while driving or while just staring into space, but when I’m in the middle of the work my aim is to feel rather than think and accept what happens, including happy accidents.
Q: In our busy world, time can be an issue. Do you have any tips or tricks to find time for your art?
A: I think I have the mindset that you make time not find time. My daily plan in mind is to first get a few domestic things done, exercise, and then get on with the real work- my art. I also sometimes need a mental break so I might put a wash on, get something ready for dinner, make a shopping list, have a nap, take a walk, have a cup of tea, but get back to work. I seem to do my best work in the late afternoon and evening. I take lots of pictures on walks, and make sketches in spare moments. I make sure that I don’t arrange appointments when I have set aside an art day. I have a community of artist friends and have special days set aside to work with them. I don’t let anything get in the way. I’m fortunate to be retired and have time to explore my art. I avoid screens when I want to work, they are a great procrastination and time waster for me- I feel they suck the life out of me. I don’t always achieve this work plan; I do my share of procrastination and avoidance but I do have a plan of attack. I am curious about the world around me and have collections of interesting stuff to work with.- stones, twigs and leaves being a few.
Q: Is creating art your main profession?
A: Yes, even the part time work that I do in helping groups with visioning and planning I am drawing graphic images and words as people talk. I am a graphic facilitator capturing people’s ideas, dreams, hopes and goals in pictures and words. I have taught printmaking extensively throughout the Peace region and beyond. I enjoy people especially when they are enthusiastic about art making and I love sharing what I know with others. It has been a great pleasure to join with Charlie in giving workshops the last few years - he is a masterful teacher and loves printmaking as much as I do.
Q: Can you tell us about any awards or exhibitions that have made an impact on your life?
A: I have been fortunate to win a few awards; in one week I won the Regional Peace Liard juried art show and came first in the PRFCA juried show. That was a welcome encouragement to me. I have gained first place in two FCA National juried shows in the last few years which was a wonderful surprise and I have placed in several PRFCA shows. I was excited to achieve my AFCA signature status a couple of years ago and also have my prints shown in exhibitions in Spain, England and France for 3 years. I was excited and happy to have a print show at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie in 2017 which had been one of my goals.
Q: Do you have any major goals for your art career?
A: I want to learn, grow, improve and get better at my craft. I have discovered a style unique to me and I want to explore it, colour it, add, subtract, abstract and discover what is deep in my soul to accomplish. I want to be careful to follow my own heart and not be sidetracked by the desires of commercialism or other’s preferences. It’s easy to get sidetracked. Make no mistake I do want to sell my art and I am very pleased when people want to have my work hanging on their walls but I do lots of work as gifts for family members and friends which I really enjoy. I’d like to help printmaking to be understood, appreciated and enjoyed by the ordinary person in the street, kids in school, and other artists and galleries that don’t know much about it yet.
Q: What inspires you to be the best artist that you can be?
A: My love of meaning, metaphor and mystery -making an effort to interpret, respond to and express what is going on around me; somewhat like a journalist reporting and telling a story and in a dynamic, sometimes dramatic, visually expressive way.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your art journey or inspiration so far to inspire others?
A: My aim is to share, inspire and encourage myself and others with my art. I want to make a deep impression for a deep purpose and to metaphorically dance, sing, tell stories, and write lyrical poetry about the wonderful, and sometimes not so wonderful, world we live in. I want to share my utter fascination for recording what I see and feel on paper, canvas, wood or Lino. I think we can all be artists and artisans, be creative and express ourselves.
Thank you Mary for sharing a bit about your art journey with us!
Mary can be reached by email - firstname.lastname@example.org