| Jun 25, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - June 25, 2009 Exploring her art through lifeby Julie Druker

Local artist Carla Miedema and her work at her “Studio by the Pond” in Cloyne

Carla Meidema has been drawing and painting all of her life. As a mother of five children, she decided, once her children left home, to attend university to give her art her full attention. She enrolled in the Queen's University art program and graduated with a BFA in 1991.

Since then Carla has continued to explore, hone her skills and reinvent her art. In doing so she has managed to put both her home studio and home town on the art map by founding a number of art events, namely the Bon Echo Art Exhibition and Sale, the Cloyne Studio Tour and the Cloyne Showcase, three popular annual art events that continue to draw art enthusiasts to the north.

Nature has always been one of the major focuses of Carla’s work and her home studio located in Cloyne with its views of ponds, forests and wild life and its proximity to lakes and parks offers everything she needs to create the landscapes and outdoor scenes for which she has become so well known.

She switched her medium from oils and now works solely in acrylics and mixed media. “I wanted to get away from the fumes of oils and I enjoy the versatility of acrylics. You can do so much with it very quickly and I like experimenting with different materials.”

Carla’s most recent landscapes focus on wetlands, nature’s water cleansing and filtering system. “I’m really interested in the way wetlands work, how the grasses filter and clean the water before it ends up in the sea. It’s a recycling thing.”

As a recent kidney donor, these works seem to make a connection between the surgeries she and her husband underwent last year on May 29 when she donated a kidney to her husband Ben. When I asked her about a possible connection, she laughed, “There are no kidney shapes in my work but I suppose there is a connection in the way the kidneys filter the poisons from our bodies like the wetlands and grasses do in nature. The connection is likely a subconscious thing.”

Photo Left: Carla and Ben Miedema celebrate their 1st year anniversary after successful kidney surgeries and hoping to encourage people to say "YES" and sign their organ donor cards. Photo courtesy Carla Miedema

The surgeries were obviously a major event in the couple’s lives and they happily just celebrated the successful surgeries' first anniversary.

Carla’s wetland works are painted in acrylics, mainly from photographs that Carla takes herself and they incorporate actual pieces of the natural environment. Grasses, lichens and mosses are dried out and then applied to the painting’s surface and painted onto.

Carla recalled, “This work started a few years ago when I found these little bits of red pine bark which reminded me of the pictographs at Bon Echo and I started incorporating them into the paintings and from there it grew and I started using mosses, grasses and seeds - you name it."

Wildflowers are also an ongoing subject of Carla’s work. These works are drawn in pencil on “lokta” paper, a coarse textured natural paper handmade by Italian monks.

Abstract works are becoming more of a focus these days in Carla’s most recent work. When wintering in Florida, Carla works with a group of professional painters there exploring abstract ideas using yupo paper with liquid acrylics, the results of which are bright colorful designs in which Carla incorporates other decorative patterns made from her hand carved stamps.

One recent work titled “Teasel” is a recent, mixed media abstract work that Carla showed at Gallery Artplus in Belleville. The work represents the direction that Carla is moving towards with her paintings and is a culmination of the various techniques that she utilizes in her various styles. A combination of various painting mediums, add-on elements and drawing, Carla explained the work: “It took me about two years to paint. There are 20 different layers of paint, transparent paint on it." The image has been interpreted by many viewers as a figure on a cross and Carla admits, “People see in my abstract works different things, which is something that I really enjoy, even if it was unintended by myself when I was creating it.”

If artwork is the expression of our lives, Carla’s work demonstrates her loves and journeys both as an artist and a human being. Like all art that succeeds, her work has that element of mystery and exploration that makes the observer lean in for a closer look and encourages questions, connections and wonder.

Carla’s work will be on display on the Studio Tour in Cloyne from July 17-19 and at Bon Echo Art Exhibition on July 24-26.

To see more of Carla’s work online please visit her website at www.carlamiedema.com

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