Art tour show region’s talent

Knifemaker Tom Laxdal shows off one of his handmade knives. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Artists came together over the weekend to show what they can do in some of the settings that inspire them.

The annual 263 Art Tour was held Saturday and Sunday. The self-guided tour includes about a dozen artists at nine locations around the Christopher and Emma Lake areas, all accessible from Highway 263.

“We’ve had more people than we usually have on Saturday, so it’s been good,” said June Ricklefs, who helped organize the tour.

“I haven’t recognized many from previous years, so we’re getting more new people.”

Jeanette Lussier and Brent Fellner are from the Martensville area but have a cabin near Emma Lake.

Fellner works with stone and wood, and he draws cartoons Lussier is a painter who is branching into woodworking and carving.

“Having it at the cabin allows us a little bit of freedom to do what we want, and the setting is always nice when you’re up in the forest,” said Fellner.

Fellner enjoys the immediacy and tactility of working with wood and stone.

“We’ve had people who happen to be up here from that (Martensville) area, but we’ve also had people up from Alberta and the Maritimes today who have seen our work. It’s really good exposure.”

Lussier found herself connecting with some other artists, providing a good opportunity to discuss their work. She became a full-time artist about 20 years ago, pursuing a passion and talent she began developing as a child. Her family pushed her to take the lead into art as a profession, and she was able to pull it off.

“We’ve had a lot of people come through, and other artists, people who dabble in it, and it gives you a chance to exchange the energy and the creativity. It’s great, people here, our neighbours, get to know what we do as well.

Lussier likes painting with oils.

“I love the smell, I love the way they move on the canvas. I’m inspired by mood and colour, she said.

“I don’t paint from pictures, I paint from ideas I crate out of my head. A lot of my paintings have a story behind them. That’s the most important avenue from my creative side, to be able to put the poetry in with the painting.

Like Lussier and Fellner, the artists on the tour work in a variety of media and crate with a multitude of styles, including photography, sculpting, pottery, painting, stained glass and even knife making.

“I’ve done really well, said knife maker Tom Laxdal at his workshop, on the northeast shore of Emma Lake near McPhail Cove.

“The crowd has been very responsive and very good.”

Laxdal has been making knives for 22 years. He started with a small kit and kept growing. He takes Japanese steel and grinds it to a fine point. He then tempers his steel to improve its hardness and lifecycle. He said the process requires patience, hand-eye coordination and the eye of an artist.

Carol Hofferd makes stained glass art.

Like Laxdal, she started small and eventually branched out and learned more she could do in her chosen medium.

“It’s wide and varied,” she said.

‘Whatever I want to do I can do and I can experiment. A lot of my things are one of a kind because they’ve come out of my hear.”

Hoffer likes how colours work and blend together. She said glass can be everything from large-scale works such as church windows, to sun catchers, jewellery and fused glass.

“It’s so wide-ranging it can open up whole new fields for you that you never thought were possible. It’s whatever your imagination will let you do.”

Hofferd was exhibiting with Ricklefs in the Village of Christopher Lake. While there were more people than previous years, sales were a little slow.

“You never know if it’s going to be good or not,” Ricklefs said.

Still, the tour provides a great opportunity.

“We’ve had a lot of people through,” she said, “people getting familiar with what we do.”