Extraordinary Beauty in Ordinary Things
written by Brett Anningson
"What inspires me?" Mickie muses. "Gosh, it’s hard to say, I was so young when the urge to draw and paint started. I’m going to say that it was the world that inspired me. The way a tree had these awesome shadow areas right up against the brightly coloured sunlit leaves. The curve of a jaw. The way an animal’s fur laid across its
They are big and dark. What do they know! My mountain is as I thought it should be back then. Bigger and darker. Oh, the lessons we learn over time! As I teenager, a vast majority of my babysitting money was spent at the local art supply store – a two-mile plus walk away. My favourite purchases were Walter Foster books. I still have them." As a youngster, Mickie told her parents she would like to go to university one day to study art. This was before she had any real sense of the impact of that statement, or how hard it might be to make a living as an artist. Her parents always responded the same way: "Who do you know that makes a living selling art?" The sad thing was, she bought into that. Looking back she realizes they were not being mean, just trying to give the best advice they could. The "starving artist" myth was all they knew. They didn’t want that for their child, so the advice was well intended. It was while walking past a mall display in her early 20s that Mickie started taking an art career more seriously. There it was, larger than life, the offer of ten oil painting lessons for $150.00. That was a lot of money in 1978, but she bit the bullet and took the lessons given by Samara Carrier. And began her love of oil paints and canvas. "Over the years I painted a lot but there were several years, raising three small children, where I didn’t even pick up a brush. All that time the yearning remained and eventually I would get back to painting." Flash forward to the year 2000. As a single parent, Mickie decided to go back to school to find a way to support her children while still being involved in a creative career. She chose a threeyear Graphic Design program at the University of the Fraser Valley. It allowed her to be involved in art classes and do life drawing, illustration and painting. It changed the way she worked and brought her to a whole new level. "While in school I started a new relationship," says Mickie, "with the man that would become my partner in life, Jim Cameron. He encouraged me to continue painting after I graduated. No graphic design career for this girl! In 2003, I
began painting full time and had my first show in 2004 at the Nanaimo art gallery. In 2005, I joined the White Rock Gallery and have been with them ever since." She adds, "Jim was the person that not only encouraged me to go to my studio full time and put together a body of work that I could finally present to our local art gallery, but insisted it was the right thing to do. That process took a year and it was the decision that made the biggest impact on my career. I will be forever grateful for that time and his support."
Inside the Inspiration
Mickie thinks of herself as very fortunate right now in terms of studio space. It is huge. There are two rooms combined – one room for painting and one for applying gesso, sanding, varnishing and packaging paintings for shipment. There is storage for canvas and props in both spaces. She currently has three easels and additional space to prop up the six paintings she would currently be working on. "It’s a beautiful warm space," explains Mickie, "filled with bits and pieces – rocks, eggshells, marbles, feathers, bird nests, rusty locks and keys, a full deer skull complete with antlers. A bear skull, stone eggs, flowers. I also have many art books, pictures of artwork and a computer that allows me to search and view the amazing works of other artists." "I love the extraordinary beauty in ordinary things," she continues. "The shine of a marble, the intricate swirls of colour. The amazing natural design of a seashell. The warm and cool colours of a rusted lock. The perfect blemish in a fully- ripened pear. Shadows and highlights of the most luscious rosebud. The intense beam of reflected light on a glass vase. I have to say, though, when I am really in the zone and have been painting long hours for days in a row I see paintings everywhere. That perfect spot on the cheekbone where light and shadow meet. The cool side of a tree. Art is everywhere!" Her style could be described as classic realism with a contemporary twist, and it really does take ordinary things and display them in the most
extraordinary ways. There are things that seem to find their way into Mickie’s work again and again, like marbles, keys, locks, pottery; but lately she has been leaning towards the organic – rocks, nests, flowers, fruit and the like. She even has plans to explore the painting of a human body. Her technique begins with a photo shoot. "From there I will apply a very basic line drawing on the canvas. My first layer or two are a Grisaille in which I establish values. Once the Grisaille has dried, I work in very thin layers of colour, perhaps up to 4 or 5 layers depending on the subject matter. I almost always work with oils on stretched canvas and finish with a good varnish. I started with oils and it is still my favourite medium. I would say that watercolour is the medium I have explored more than the others, but I have also played with acrylics, pastel, inks, oil sticks and more." Also in her studio is a practical inspiration which hangs pinned to the wall – Go to Your Room – which is the advice Robert Genn was fond of giving and something Mickie took to heart. "For me," she says, "this is advice I would give anyone. "Go to your room" reminds me of the simple truth that it is all about time. You must practice. Don’t wait for the muse, she’s busy. Get to work and she/he will arrive!"
The Realities of Life
On September 15th of this year, Mickie lost the love of her life, Jim, after a year-long battle with the same cancer that took her mother. "He was the wind beneath my wings and he would be so proud of the fact that I am in Arabella Magazine. He used to introduce me to people as "the world famous artist Mickie Acierno." I was at the same
time embarrassed and secretly happy that he loved me that much! These last 15 months have been a tough gig, a struggle to make a new normal for myself. Which reminds me of another full-circle moment. Peering in the windows of the White Rock Gallery and saying to Jim, "this just feels like the right gallery for me" and a few months later receiving an email from Dennie Segnitz saying she loved my work and wanted to talk. That was ten years ago … the rest is a shared history! "I guess life all comes back to the same thing," Mickie muses. "I don’t mind being alone, and I think the introvert side of me is what has enabled me to spend many comfortable hours by myself doing what I love. But, at the same time, what matters most to me are the simple things; family and friends, hard work and long hours doing what I adore. You have to take time to laugh and cry. Be real. Love passionately and play passionately."
To see more of the work of Mickie Acierno head on over to www.mickie.ca or contact the artist at Mickie@shaw.ca 250.739.3556 Mickie Acierno is represented by: White Rock Gallery White Rock, BC www.whiterockgallery.com 604.538.4452 Stephen Lowe Art Gallery Calgary, AB www.stephenloweartgallery.ca 403.261.1602 La Galerie d’art Au P’tit Bonheur La Malbaie, QC www.auptitbonheur.com 418.665.2060
previous spread, 10 Cents a Dance, oil on canvas, 30" x 40" above, Daisy Chain, oil on canvas, 12" x 48"
previous spread, Upon Reflection, oil on canvas, 18" x 24" above, Three Quarter Turn, oil on canvas, 24" x 24"
above, Five O’clock Shadows, oil on canvas, 30" x 36" right top, Hung by The Moon, oil on canvas, 48" x 48" right bottom, Round Trip, oil on canvas, 24" x 48"