November 11, 2019

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Big ideas, small canvases

Local artist paints vast landscapes in miniature

You’ve probably heard of tiny houses, but have you ever heard of tiny paintings?

Gallery preview

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Far Away Places
by Margie Lucier
● Warehouse Artworks, 222 McDermot Ave.
● Sept. 6-20
● Free admission
● Monday to Friday 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Margie Lucier specializes in exactly that, with landscapes painted on small canvases only two inches by two inches in size.

A 27-year-old artist born and raised in Winnipeg, Lucier has been drawn to art for as long as she can remember. As her passion grew, she began to focus on painting.

Her newest solo exhibit, Far Away Places, debuts Friday, Sept. 6, as part of First Fridays in the Exchange. 

Lucier has no formal art training, but that hasn’t stopped her from paving her own way as an artist.

"I learned by practising often, also trial and error. I developed my own techniques over time," she says.

"I now switch between painting miniatures and larger paintings. This helps relieve any artist block I struggle with," Margie Lucier said. (Shannon VanRaes / Winnipeg Free Press)

"I now switch between painting miniatures and larger paintings. This helps relieve any artist block I struggle with," Margie Lucier said. (Shannon VanRaes / Winnipeg Free Press)

Her artistic influences include Russian landscape painter Ivan Shishkin, English naturalistic landscape painter John Constable and John Everett Millais, one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Their distinctive styles contributed to the development of Lucier’s own vision.

"Looking at reference photos of landscapes really helped me learn," she says.

"A couple of the paintings I’ve done for my exhibit are based on photos I’ve seen of Iceland. I hope to travel there someday soon. It would be wonderful to take my own photos out there to use as reference photos for my paintings."

What makes Lucier’s paintings stand out from the crowd is their size. Working on a canvas with a total area slightly smaller than a credit card requires extremely detail-oriented and precise work.

The theme of Far Away Places is foreign landscapes. (Shannon VanRaes / Winnipeg Free Press)

The theme of Far Away Places is foreign landscapes. (Shannon VanRaes / Winnipeg Free Press)

 "I have always enjoyed adding tiny details in my paintings," she says. "I started painting on my tiny canvases as a challenge to myself to see how much detail I can pack into two inches."

Her focus on detail has been both a blessing and a curse.

"When I work on my larger paintings, they would take me months to complete because of how I focus on small details," she explains. "Working on one painting for months would make me feel burnt out, I would work for hours a day and not be able to see much progress."

Although initially conceived as a way of practising her technique, the experiment with a smaller canvas size turned out to be a creative solution to a common problem amongst artists: the dreaded artist block.

Walk offers exploration of restorations

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After the St. Boniface Cathedral fire, a decision was made to keep the iconic facade.						</p>
After the St. Boniface Cathedral fire, a decision was made to keep the iconic facade.

Posted: 05/09/2019 3:00 AM

In April, after the fire at Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral was finally put out, controversy ignited over how best to respond to the devastating damage.

Experts, architects and ordinary citizens weighed in. Some wanted to rebuild, as closely as possible, the structure as it was. Some suggested an ultra-modern response, while others wanted to leave it as a ruin. As arguments flared, the debate brought into focus the many practical, esthetic and ethical questions surrounding architectural restoration.

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"I bought them at first to challenge myself and focus on improving my fine details even more. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with painting on small canvases. I could work on one for hours and have it completed," Lucier says.

"That gave me satisfaction and allowed me to bring more of my ideas to life. I now switch between painting miniatures and larger paintings. This helps relieve any artist block I struggle with."

Working on smaller canvases also created a need for the right brushes for the job.

"I use a mix of tiny round brushes and thin long paintbrushes called script liners," shares Lucier.

"The round brushes I use to cover bigger areas of the canvas and the script liners are used to make fine lines and details. I also need to make sure I have steady hands while working. Any little slip-up can cause big issues on a canvas so small."

The theme of Far Away Places is foreign landscapes. 

"For this exhibit, I created works that feature vast mountainscapes and oceans. Some scenes were inspired by Iceland, like their black sand beaches and their iconic black chapel in a little village called Búðir. Other paintings were inspired by desert landscapes, or a valley between mountains," she says.

"I am very inspired by nature and landscapes that are something we don’t normally see living in the prairies."

Lucier prepares the window for her new exhibit, which debuts Sept. 6. (Shannon VanRaes photo / Winnipeg Free Press)

Lucier prepares the window for her new exhibit, which debuts Sept. 6. (Shannon VanRaes photo / Winnipeg Free Press)

And Lucier isn’t content to simply paint landscapes from here on Earth — she also finds inspiration in the stars.

"I took the idea of faraway places even further by creating works inspired by outer space. In my collection of 50 tiny paintings, I have painted our solar system, a nebula and shooting stars. I have also incorporated the Milky Way into a large majority of my paintings."

Lucier runs an Etsy shop that sells prints of her artwork as well as jewelry. Her work can also be seen on Instagram.

Far Away Places opens Sept. 6 at Warehouse Artworks from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. as a part of First Fridays in the Exchange. It runs until Sept. 20. 

frances.koncan@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @franceskoncan

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