Tak­ing Risks

Arabella - - ARTIST TO COLLECT - writ­ten by Brett An­ning­son

Lynda Schneider Granat­stein is one artist who has seen first­hand the ben­e­fit of tak­ing risks. Not only on can­vas but in life, as well. In or­der to pur­sue her cre­ativ­ity she has al­ways dared to step into the un­known and reap the ben­e­fits. "It is true," says Lynda. "I have taken chances. With no pre­vi­ous con­nec­tions, I asked to paint the dancers of Les Grands Bal­lets in their stu­dios, 16 years ago. I ended up with friend­ships and muses that I know will be part of my life al­ways. I am still paint­ing th­ese dancers. It be­gan like this: I made sketches in the "Green Room", and then was al­lowed to take pho­tos. The artis­tic co­or­di­na­tor then gave me a cov­eted back­stage pass and I took pho­tos of the dancers as they were get­ting ready to go on stage at Place Des Arts and other venues. I couldn’t be­lieve that I was al­lowed to see the magic of the fall­ing "snow" on the dancers dur­ing the Nutcracker pro­duc­tion – I cried – I saw the strength, the en­durance, the tal­ent of th­ese pro­fes­sion­als and I felt ex­hil­a­rated. I made paint­ings of th­ese scenes, and had a solo show in 2003 that was sold out." There have been other un­ex­pected op­por­tu­ni­ties. Lynda was asked to col­lab­o­rate in a new dance pro­duc­tion by chore­og­ra­pher/ dancer An­drew Gi­day. It was called "Ego Ideal" in homage to Freud. Lynda de­signed cos­tumes and sets and was even on stage pre­tend­ing to paint a large paint­ing while the dancers mim­icked her move­ments. In the same vein, she was also asked to play a part in a theatre/dance film by Louis-Martin Charest – she was La Pa­tronne, owner of the Cabaret Lion d’or!

Lynda ad­mits, "I ap­plied to a gallery in Florence, Italy never think­ing that I would have a solo show there. It is my favourite city in the world. I was ac­cepted, and it lasted a month. I rented an apart­ment there for the du­ra­tion and all my chil­dren came and stayed with me at dif­fer­ent times. I was in heaven walk­ing around a city for four weeks im­mersed in mu­se­ums, churches, mon­u­ments, gar­dens and di­vine restau­rants. I came to re­al­ize that my world trav­els, which are so im­por­tant to me, have a pro­nounced in­flu­ence on my work. Re­cently, I have made trips to Viet­nam, Cam­bo­dia, In­dia, Peru, and hiked the Grand Canyon in Ari­zona. Each re­gion and its cul­ture have im­pacted my work. "I ap­plied to be an artist-in-res­i­dence at the Banff Cen­tre, the epit­ome of all cre­ative and in­spi­ra­tional en­deav­ours by wildly fa­mous artists in all me­dia, nur­tured in the most beau­ti­ful set­ting of forests and moun­tains, rivers and lakes. They had asked for a de­tailed de­scrip­tion of my process, the di­men­sions and me­dia that I would re­quire for my pro­ject, my his­tory, etc., but I had no plan. I just wanted to ab­sorb it all and see what I came up with… and to my as­ton­ish­ment, I was ac­cepted!" So be­gan a pe­riod with her very own stu­dio in the woods of the pres­ti­gious Leighton Artists’ Colony. The stu­dio had pre­vi­ously been used by Joni Mitchell. For two months, Lynda cre­ated paint­ings of The Stoney First Na­tions peo­ple, the Al­berta Bal­let who were re­hears­ing there for their film "Love Lies Bleed­ing", and so many oth­ers. Lynda says, "There were po­ets in an­other artistin-res­i­dency pro­gram who posed nude for me in the woods be­hind my stu­dio. One wrote a poem about this ex­pe­ri­ence, which I in­cluded in my paint­ing of her. It was all so stim­u­lat­ing; I had to pinch my­self to be­lieve I was re­ally there. I was so moved by the beauty of the set­ting that I be­gan to make land­scapes in earnest."

In the Be­gin­ning

Al­most from the be­gin­ning, Lynda knew that art was her call­ing. This may have come from her father, Harold Schneider, who was, him­self, an artist. She watched her father paint in his spare time in the sun­room of their home over­look­ing the St. Lawrence and, be­fore long, she was be­ing en­cour­aged to work along­side. He al­ways chal­lenged her in terms of com­po­si­tion and per­spec­tive. Slowly, Lynda grad­u­ated from pen­cil to water­colour. Her father was a stu­dent at Ecole des Beaux Arts along­side Jean-paul Riopelle; his men­tors were Paul-èmile Bor­d­uas and Al­fred Pel­lan, and al­though he grew to love paint­ing ab­stractly, he was an ex­tra­or­di­nary draughts­man un­der­neath it all. Lynda re­calls, "When I was 12 years old, I went to the Mon­treal Mu­seum of Fine Arts and had Sun­day classes with the ge­nius Arthur Lis­mer of the Group of Seven. What a crazy-wild, di­sheveled, white-haired, mad pro­fes­sor he was – yelling: "Draw!! Draw!! Draw!!" De­spite be­ing born with the "gene" to draw, I al­ways knew the value of hard work and dis­ci­pline in the craft." Lynda’s father had to earn a liv­ing for the fam­ily in ad­ver­tis­ing, but he also con­tin­ued to paint. Lynda, too, came to re­al­ize that she needed a job she could count on. "So, I spent 11 years at Mcgill Univer­sity study­ing psy­chol­ogy and short term psy­cho­dy­namic ther­apy, and re­ceived my mas­ter’s de­gree there, lov­ing be­com­ing a psy­chother­a­pist. Con­cur­rently, I stud­ied art at Con­cor­dia and the Saidye Bronf­man Cen­tre, sculp­ture with Stan­ley Lewis, print­mak­ing (etch­ing)

with Roslyn Swartz­man, and photo etch­ing with Doreen Lind­say. It was at this time that I started to see how my in­ter­est in Freudian the­ory led me to cre­ate works deal­ing with in­tro­spec­tion. I be­gan writ­ing on my work in a type of stream of con­scious­ness, so as to com­bine words with lay­ers of etch­ings and pa­per col­lage and other medi­ums such as oil and pas­tel; so that the lit­eral lay­ers would be­come metaphors for the spir­i­tual ones I was try­ing to con­vey." It was af­ter her chil­dren had gone to nurs­ery school that Lynda rented a stu­dio in Old Mon­treal, where she worked ev­ery mo­ment pos­si­ble for 25 years. She re­mem­bers it be­ing like go­ing to work on a movie set, with many ac­tual movies be­ing filmed near the stu­dio. More im­por­tantly, there was an Old Mon­treal artist gang all around her – some­thing she feels was very good for her soul. "I learned the value of col­lab­o­ra­tion there," she says, "and al­though I am a fig­u­ra­tive, rep­re­sen­ta­tional artist, I was ex­posed to the cra­zi­est of in­stal­la­tions and mu­sic/art/dance fu­sions, and I loved it all. When I moved my stu­dio to my new home 10 years ago, those con­tacts blos­somed to in­volve my work in theatre and film. I knew I could never stick to one se­ries; there were so many ways to ex­press my­self. I was be­com­ing com­pe­tent in many medi­ums so my mixed me­dia ap­proach to most of my work has stood me in good stead."

The In­ward Jour­ney

"I have al­ways felt that the val­ues in your life and work should be con­gru­ent," Lynda muses. "The val­ues you learn dur­ing your life af­fect your

con­cludes. "It doesn’t mat­ter what the medium is, what the tools are, what the sup­port is, or even the sub­ject. It mat­ters to cre­ate some­thing that is unique to you – your vi­sion. It is about your artis­tic needs met in that mo­ment and the cul­mi­na­tion of mo­ments that creates the work. My in­spi­ra­tion comes from those things, scenes, peo­ple, events that have an im­pact on my life. Ev­ery ob­ject in my still lifes, for ex­am­ple, has a mean­ing or a his­tory for me. Noth­ing is ar­bi­trary. For me, the work is al­ways well thought out. At least the be­gin­ning, that is, and where it ends even I can’t know … ‘til the end. When some­one asks me how I can part with a par­tic­u­lar paint­ing or draw­ing, I al­ways say that it’s the jour­ney to­wards the cre­ation that mat­ters to me, not the end re­sult." Lynda Schneider Granat­stein is rep­re­sented by Chan­tal Beauchamp. All pho­to­graphs of her paint­ings are done by Rus­sell Proulx. To see more of Lynda Schneider Granat­stein’s work, visit www. lyn­dasg.ca. Her work is avail­able at: Le Bal­con d’art St-lambert, QC www.bal­con­dart.com 450.466.8920

pre­vi­ous spread, Ger­bras and Lilies on Provence Table­cloth, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 30" x 40" above, Ni­cole Back­stage, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 12" x 16"

Lion Amaryl­lis, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 36" x 48"

About Sarah, mixed me­dia on arches oil pa­per, 22" x 30"

Jodi & Stef, Banff II, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 16" x 20"

pre­vi­ous spread, March Flow­ers, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 30" x 40" left, Tea In My Stu­dio, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 24" x 40" above, Sara (Grand­mother's dress) Lean­ing on Liv­ing Room Chair, mixed me­dia on can­vas, 24" x 30"

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