Art :: It’s All In The Family

Grace Gessoes A Linen
Grace gessoes a linen.

My studio is in my home, by choice.

In 2011, with a family of three children, ages 18, 14 and 6, this affords me the best opportunity to be as big a part of the lives of my family as I can be.

I’m immersed in our home, where we live, where we play, sleep and be. Some artists prefer a separate space for creating, but (most of the time) I love the hub bub, the bustle and the things that go on in the house.

This wasn’t always the case, and at one point when Grace was younger, I kept two studios – one outside the house and across the valley, and the other at home. At the point when our youngest was about 4, I found that I would rather be here with everyone than out, so much to the chagrin of my husband, we moved everything back into the house. (Thanks honey! I love you!)

The inspiration and motivation for my work lies in my family. Without them around, and in and out of my working space, it’s like trying to paint a wonderful nude without anyone on the couch. Just not the same thing.

There can be big challenges when the family is in your space while you’re trying to create, and I concede that this is not for everyone. However, the long-term value also lies in creating a culture of creativity in the home.

I’ve found that what works well for me and the best way to enrich the creative experience is to involve everyone in the process of the work.  Not everyone wants to be involved all of the time, but there is actually work, a role and an opportunity for everyone in our family if they’re wanting to participate.

Kevin on Ha Ling
Kevin on Ha Ling Peak

THE CAST:: Kevin – Carpenter/Stretcher Builder Extraordinnaire

My husband Kevin is a Journeyman Carpenter. He made me the most fabulous large floor easel from some plans we found on the internet at Ben Grosser’s website I liked it so much, I got him to make me a second one.

When I could not find an excellent quality, light stretcher for some work I was doing for a specific show at Elevation Gallery. The one’s I was ordering in Calgary were warping & twisting under the stretching of the belgian linen which stretches differently than canvas. I asked Kevin to come up with a design for an awesome stretcher. He did! And now, I have the most incredible stretchers, built to every custom size that I require, on time, five times the quality and at the fraction of the cost.

The biggest bonus is that we work together have great sense of accomplishment knowing that we have created the works together.

Kevin has much stronger hands than I do, and has become an excellent linen stretcher. He completes all of the raw substrates for me. He does an artful job at folding linen corners, and I’m lucky to have him.

Jake in the office!

THE CAST:: Jacob – Office Manager

My son Jacob has recently taken over the office management and is learning just what it is that his mother does when she’s not painting.

This is a huge gift for me, as I can delegate tasks to him and he is getting to know the business inside and out. As part and parcel of my succession plan and to foster a culture at home that teaches business skills hand-in-hand with creativity.

Jake has become familiar with the works that I created even before he was born, and all of that knowledge is now passed down to benefit the family and the children in the future. I’m grateful Jake took an interest in helping me out, and that he sees the value in this.

Jake was also in need of a quality student’s job and practical learning experience outside of his studies in Political Science at the University of Calgary. What better way than giving him that business experience at home while he studies, paying him vs. paying someone outside of the family, and putting him face to face with the day to day challenges of family business management. I’m just grateful that he wanted to do this.

Benjamin - Photographer
Benjamin - Art Critic




THE CAST:: Benjamin – Art Critic

This is Benjamin. He is my youngest son and an absolute joy. He contributes to the work by helping out around the studio, and with the stretcher building. His room is just off my studio and workspace, so he’s in and out all the time to see what is going on.

Ben has a unique ability to look at a painting and give an excellent opinion on how the work is coming along. He is a second set of eyes for me and always has wonderful suggestions to the work, and asks all the right questions. When I’m “stuck”, it’s often Ben that will give me a boost and a hint at what to tackle next. How lucky am I to have this most wonderful combination of critic and love all at the same time. He will sometimes see things entirely in a different way, and this is incredibly valuable input while I’m in the process of the work.


Grace & Studio Installation
Grace and her studio installation

THE CAST:: Grace – Artist’s Apprentice & Muse

Our daughter Grace spends a great deal of time at the easel with me and is quite intrigued with all things creative. It seems to be in her nature. She is always writing, colouring, painting and wanting to be “in it” with me. (Truth be told, I let her paint on my canvasses when she wants to contribute and take the opportunity to show her how.)

She learns and is curious about how the paints mix. Just this past weekend, she took a good look at some of the test colour wheels I’d made and created her own. She has even learned how to gesso a linen canvas. A huge help to me. She’s quite outspoken and sees life in a different way. I watch and listen to her. She inspires, teaches and informs me. She gets me to look at things differently. She’s my muse and I share her thoughts on the “Grace Quote of the Day” .

Grace's Colour Wheel
Grace's Colour Wheel - She gessoed, drew and created it on a piece of masonite.

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