Portrait of the artist: Amy Shackleton - an exploration of humanity and the environment

·3 min read

Dipping her hands in the finger paint as a kindergarten student certainly inspired Amy Shackleton as a young child.

In fact, she kept her hands in the paint figuratively for the rest of her life as she went through school then continued her education at York University graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Amy currently has an exhibit of her work, titled Playing with Fire and Ice, in the silo gallery at the Museum of Dufferin.

From Thursday, October 21, to Saturday, October 23, she made the museum her studio and worked on a new painting in the museum’s main gallery.

Visitors could watch as the large mural came to life under Amy’s creative technique and ability.

Becoming a full-time artist is something many people dream of but few actually accomplish.

For Amy, that transition was the result of dedication and determination, and spending considerable time gaining a reputation in the art world.

She started painting full time in 2009.

“I was working a full-time job, an office job, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Amy explained. “I did that while I was painting in the evenings and weekends. I was getting into group shows in Toronto where we lived at the time, and I was going to every gallery and getting my work out there. I decided I needed to quit my job to devote 100 per cent of my time to it. Right about that time I was picked up by a commercial gallery in Toronto.”

Her employer at the time believed in her so much, that when she finally gave notice that she was leaving, they commissioned her to do a set of nine paintings for their office.

Amy uses a special technique when creating her work.

Although she does use brushes at times, most of her work is done using a drip and drop method by squeezing the acrylic paint from a plastic bottle.

“Some people call me a gravity artist, a drop artist. I apply my paint with squeeze bottles. With my canvas work I rotate the canvas to direct the flow of paint. Everything is created with layers and layers of drips. I can get a straight line or a curved line by rotating the canvas as it’s dripping. I can blend colours together by spinning the canvas really quickly.”

She developed the technique while in university to produce a more organic quality. It took her several years to perfect the technique.

Her current work hanging in the museum gallery and now filling her time features the conflicting relationship between humanity and the environment, and the present day effects of climate change across the country.

“I’ve been bringing nature back into the city with my work since the beginning,” Amy explained. “For a decade I was creating more optimistic works that brought sustainable architecture and ways that we can bring nature back into the city in a more sustainable way. With this series, I’m saying it is a call to action for environmental futures. It’s exploring the current effects of climate change across Canada.”

When finding inspiration for her pieces, Amy searches out places to see for herself. Her work has taken her to every province and territory in search of the places and buildings she wants to include in her work.

Amy’s current exhibit will be on display in the museum’s Silo Gallery through to December 18.

Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times

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