Artists flourish at Alberta Culture Days

Alberta Culture Days in Ponoka led to a congregation of artistic talent at the Jubilee Library, where workshops and lessons

Sheldon Wheatly (left) demonstrates how he uses copic markers to make art at the Alberta Culture Days activates at the Jubilee Library

Sheldon Wheatly (left) demonstrates how he uses copic markers to make art at the Alberta Culture Days activates at the Jubilee Library

Alberta Culture Days in Ponoka led to a congregation of artistic talent at the Jubilee Library, where workshops and lessons from central Alberta artists brought in a crowd of curious people on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Sheldon Wheatly, a self-taught Ponoka artist, gave a lesson using his medium of choice, copic markers. “I started with the markers in 2004. I just kept working at it until I got good.”

Before he discovered the markers in the Red Deer College bookstore, Wheatly performed his art with pencil crayons, but they did not blend as nicely as the markers allow. “It really improved my art. It kept me more interested in art,” he said.

Because he had no formal training, Wheatly used the Internet to research techniques. The Internet also allowed him to further his artistic curiosity with anime, a subject he has been interested in since high school.

Wheatly has his own graphic novel in the works and he already has more than 100 pages done.

A collection of more than 200 graphic novels also serves as stimulation. “I have been inspired a lot by them. I just like how the art looks in them,” he added. “The characters never give up, they keep persevering their own goals.” The novels also serve as inspiration for Wheatly in his own life.

Deborah Torrance of Sylvan Lake taught participants how to make a ghost and pumpkin patch using polymer clay. “We got to make actual glow-in-the-dark ghosts.”

Torrance took a polymer course in college but has been working with kiln clay since high school. However, she is a fan of the polymer. “It doesn’t blow up on you,” she explained.

“You can create what ever your mind wants and whatever your mind lets you,” said Torrance.

While she has created a variety of statues, peacocks remain her one of her favourites. “You can make them colorful, however you want,” Torrance said.

Torrance also works with chalks, and paints. “I get a lot of my ideas from my mom.”

Many of her beautiful canvas, clay works and paintings sell easily but Torrance says her animations are harder to sell. “My own characters are a little harder to let go of.”

Torrance’s mother, Tracey Torrance, says they began the process of selling the art pieces to help Torrance manage her need to hold on to everything, stemming from her autism.

“It helps them contribute and interact with the community,” said Torrance.

“Art was a way for me to speak when I was young. Some of my mood would be (expressed) in the art,” she added.

Wilson Harrowby of Red Deer used his time at Alberta Culture Days to introduce onlookers to his work with an art demonstration.

The demonstration included watercolors, acrylics, pen and ink, and pencil crayons. “I talked about what I used. People were surprised,” said Harrowby.

He enjoys painting and pen and ink the most but it is his black and white work that allows him to spend the most attention to detail.

Although Alberta Culture Days was his first presentation at the Ponoka Jubilee Library, Harrowby has taught art at The Hub in Red Deer.

He has been interested in art from a very young age. “According to my mom, ever since I could scribble in walls,” Harrowby said.

Before a car accident that caused a seizure and memory loss, Harrowby attended the arts program at Red Deer College from 1993 to 1996. “I lost my memory in 2001. I had to relearn everything, and I mean everything. I didn’t remember my parents.”

During his time in the hospital his sister brought him pastels and he continued to draw. “People said it was a passion of mine. I didn’t remember my own mom but I remembered art,” he recalled. “But I did remember her voice.”

Cars are a favourite art subject of Harrowby’s and he is frequently commissioned by clients for work of their vehicles.

“It’s good and it’s bad,” Harrowby explained. The commissions are of one of his favourite subjects but they reduce the time he can artistically spend elsewhere, such as nature.

In the future, Harrowby hopes he can own an art studio, as he currently spends most of his painting time outdoors so he does not get paint on the carpets of his apartment.