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Shane Garton – My Third Mentor

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

If you have read my blog posts you may see a trend developing in the way I “found” my art mentors. When I began my journey into the world of art, whenever the time was right, another art teacher would magically appear in my life. It was the same when I met Shane Garton in 1999.  Prior to meeting him, friends kept telling me “you have to meet Shane”. I paid little attention to my friend’s insistence and then accidentally met Shane one day at the Snow Drift Cafe here in Kimberley, BC.  Our friendship began over a latte on a hot August day sitting under an umbrella in the Platzl.  We had an instant connection and when he commented on the fascinating shapes and colors that were being reflected in my sunglasses, I knew I had found my next teacher (or he found me?).  That was the moment it occurred to me that yes, artists truly do see things in a different way than everyone else!  What a feeling to spend time with someone who could see things differently.  To quote Jack Shadbolt – “It is one thing to have roamed museums and to have received stimulation to the imagination from great forms of the past or present.  That is a permanent and understood phase of any artist’s development.  It is another thing to receive clarification of ideas from a teacher or mentor.”  This is what Shane did for me.  By the time I met Shane, I had already learned a great deal of art theory and art history but Shane helped me to really cement all that I had learned and put it into practice.

Photo of Shane, Mom & I at an art show in Kimberley, BC

The only problem was that Shane and his wife Edith had sold their art gallery, were packing up and moving to Tasmania where Shane was originally from.  If only we could have met sooner as we had so much to discuss and so little time.

On our last evening together before he left, Shane and I went into my studio and he decided to teach me everything he knew about art IN FOUR HOURS!  My head was spinning.  As I look back I wish I had taken notes. The quote from Nietzsche posted above is on Shane’s website and will give you an idea of his passion and his intensity. As with my other mentors, Shane helped open the door to a whole new area of art that I had never experienced before.  His paintings were like nothing I had ever seen.  They were abstract and his work was very much guided by emotion and inspiration. Art really is an adventure; “you gotta take a line for a walk” as Shane always says. He would simply begin with one line and let it take him to some amazing places! 

Somehow everything he taught me in that short period of time sunk in.  I can still hear his voice even after all these years. I look at a Kandinsky, a Miro or a Matisse painting and Shane always comes to my mind.  He gave me the ability to look at art in a new way, of seeing things differently.  Isn’t that what all great mentors and great artists do?  What a gift. To quote Shane “There’s nothing quite as exciting as making the invisible, visible.” With that in mind, Shane flew to Tasmania and I ventured on to the next stage of my art career.

“Homage to Kandinsky” by Shane Garton

He told me that someday the mountains would quit talking to me.  Through the years, there have indeed been those moments when I cannot hear the mountains and no doubt the day will come when it will be time for me to move away.  For this moment, the mountains are still talking and I will continue to listen!  Shane also told me that the way I was painting was not how I will always be painting.  As I study the painters that I truly admire and look at their early and late works I am mesmerized by how their work evolved and changed.  It is very exciting to imagine how my work will change.  What will I be painting when I am 50, 60 and 70 years old?  Will I still be painting landscapes?  What direction will I go?  I am eager to find out and maybe you will join me for the ride?  As I write these words right now, I ponder how my paintbrush has been resting these past months and my way of expression has been to write.  I could have never imagined my creativity would have taken this new avenue.  Shane taught me to always be open to ideas and imagination, as you never know where it may lead.

My time spent with Shane was way too short before he moved to Tasmania.  He is a gentle, kind and very deep man. He has been one of the truest gifts in my life.  Please take the time to check out his website at shanegarton.com.

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