Mixing oil and water

Some of Fred Bahr's work on display at Amy's. The Oil and Water group's show is on until October.

Oil and water usually don’t mix, but the combination has proven successful for one local art group.

Shades of Oil and Water is the latest show from the Oil and Water Art group, and it’s now on display at Amy’s on Second.

The group consists of four artists, Fred Bahr, Ursula Brons, Bonnie Denny and June (Lycyk) Ricklefs. The group is named because its members paint primarily in watercolour and oils, though they also work in acrylics.

The group members spend a lot of time out exploring or sitting at home on acreages or at cottages, so they paint a lot of landscapes. But those won’t be the only subjects on display at this show.

Bahr, who often paints landscapes, decided for this show he would display some still life, as well as some more abstract pieces.

“Every now and then I have to give my landscaping brain time to rest,” he said,

“I’ve dabbled in (abstract) work too, it’s more impressionistic work.”
Bahr explained that his impressionistic work is an exercise in simplification.

“You start with a very detailed project and you keep simplifying it,” he said.
But even when Bahr is painting still life or abstract pieces, he keeps taking inspiration from the world around him.

“It’s peony season and rose season out here, so just looking out the window, and then I go to the Salvation Army or Value Village and find weird vases and set them up,” he said.

“Then I just paint how it should be to me. It’s an interpretation, a feeling.”

That process of interpreting what’s in front of him is also an approach used by Ricklefs. She paints from a lot of photographs, but instead of recreating exactly what she sees, Ricklefs likes to see the piece take on a life of its own.

“Once I’ve got the initial washes in and the planning done, then to me, it’s kind of a journey,” said Ricklefs, who has a fine arts degree and prefers to work with watercolours.

“I make a composition from (the photos). I’ll change the composition to make it better. Sometimes, I never really know how it’s going to turn out. For me, it’s kind of exploring the painting. I kind of take a journey into them.”

For Ricklefs, the use of watercolour really lets her blend colours together. She also likes using vibrant colours, with dark darks and bright brights. She’ll also let the watercolour paper peek through to add some white and some negative space to her work.

“That’s a nice part about watercolour, using the white of the paper as another colour,” she said.

“You have to plan it more, and then use masking fluid sometimes so the white of the paper doesn’t end up being lost.”

While the group members take some similar inspirations, the works themselves are very different, which is good in a show like this, Ricklefs said.

“You’re not going to go there and see all kinds of the same thing from each of us,” she said.

“I think the variety is good. It adds more interest to the group.”

The show was hung Sunday. It was a chance, for the first time, for the group to see each others’ work.

“It will be a surprise to see what Fred’s doing with the abstracts he just did,” Ricklefs said prior to the weekend.

“Ursula, I’ve seen some of her work but not a lot of it. Bonnie I’m more familiar with because she and I had a show at the John V. Hicks Gallery.

It’s just quite interesting … to see what we’ve accomplished and to see what the others are doing because we are so different from one another.”

Bahr agreed.

“It’s always exciting to hang a show,” he said.

The work will be on display until October 13. The group is holding an opening reception from 2-4 p.m. Sunday. There is no admission to the opening reception.

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