The daughter of an artist, Joy Laking grew up in Owen Sound, Ontario and graduated from the University of Guelph with a major in Fine Art in 1972. Since that time, she has lived, worked and painted in Nova Scotia. Joy has had national solo exhibitions at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington Ontario, at Mount Alison University and at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. This exhibition “Winter Works” was subsequently toured for a year.
Joy is an elected member of the Society of Canadian Artists and a founding member of PLANS (Professional Living Artists of Nova Scotia). She has received the Progress Club of Nova Scotia; Woman of the Year Award and also in 2012 ,the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Her work has been featured in International Artist Magazine and in several books. Joy is an avid supporter of her community and has served on The Ship’s Company Theatre Board, The Elizabeth Bishop Society, The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Board of Governors, The Third Place Transition House Board, The Robert Pope Foundation and the Ivar Mendez International Foundation.
For the past forty years, I have tried to capture the beauty of my surroundings with paint. Mainly working close to my home on the shore of the Bay of Fundy, I have spent years painting the tides and the lighting. Each year I also paint in an area of Nova Scotia that I am unfamiliar with and often in another area of the world including Italy, Greece, Spain, France, England, Iceland, Japan, Thailand, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chili, Columbia, Ecuador and New Zealand. These trips allow me to continue to see my familiar surroundings with fresh eyes. Where ever I am, I see the beauty in shapes and colours and contrasts whether it be traditional beauty or the back of a garbage truck.
After my university training, I worked in watercolour and pen and ink for about ten years. Because I am self taught with watercolours my approach is distinctly different and the opposite from the usual approach of working light towards dark. Over the years, I have also done print making, acrylics and most recently oils. I am using the slippery delicious medium of R and F oil sticks and the paintings get pushed and shoved into being. I continue to delight in all things creative and I enjoy dying wool, hooking, felting, pit firing clay and writing. My first play “Invisible Prisons” was performed in Truro in March of 2013. Bryden MacDonald directed and Lenore Zann was the producer and twelve members of the Truro Theatre Society were the cast.
Since VANS Started
I have been a VANS member since VANS started. Living and working in rural Nova Scotia these past fourth-one years and not having a connection with NSCAD ( having done my degree in art in Ontario), VANS has been an important resource in providing occasional exhibition and publication opportunities. I also made a little bit of money more than thirty years ago teaching in the PAINTS program. In the past several years, I have also attended a couple of the VANS workshops on getting into galleries and legal considerations.
The sky, the tides, and the landscape
I am most influenced by the beauty that surrounds me. I marvel at the sky, the tides and the landscape of Nova Scotia. Growing up in Group of Seven country I was initially influenced by rocks, water and cedar swamps. It took me many years until the pastoral beauty of the muddy Bay of Fundy captured my heart.
Respect for representational art
My biggest challenge in maintaining my art practice is money. In order to grow as an artist, it is important to travel and see new things and landscapes. Part of this also means that I return home and see familiar landscapes with fresh eye. It is also important to have the time to focus on my work and the money to invest in good materials. These are challenges, if you also are trying to put bread on the table. Nova Scotia has a small population and limited exhibition opportunities, and although I have managed to be a full time artist, the worry about money is continual.
Another challenge has been getting respect for representational art in a province that is dominated by NSCAD’s conceptual bias. A recent success is the upcoming exhibition at Dalhousie University Art Gallery. “Capture 2014 ;Nova Scotia Realism” opens January 16 at 8 pm and runs until early March. This exhibition has been four years in the making. Over a hundred professional artists answered the open call. Over forty were chosen for studio visits by the nationally renowned independent curator, Tom Smart, and from these twenty-eight were selected for the exhibition by Tom Smart and co curator and Dalhousie Art Gallery director, Peter Dykhuis.
Pushing around gobs of colour until an image evolves
For the first thirty years, I was known as a watercolour painter. Now I work in oils and watercolours and I love all things creative; felting, dying, hooking, furniture, clay, writing. I also use oil sticks almost as a sculptural medium by pushing around gobs of colour until an image evolves.
To create a feeling that delights me
My current painting is a large oil stick painting on canvas. In October I did a small acrylic painting, en plain air, of yellow road side leaves against a row of dark trees. I have used this image as the study for this studio work. I’ve been happily playing on this painting, gently pushing and pulling the shapes and colours. I am not copying the more realistic study, nor trying to capture the actual image of leaves and trees. Rather I am adding and subtracting colour and sliding it around to create a feeling that delights me.
To travel and paint in Asia
After the Dalhousie Exhibition opens I am hoping to travel and paint in Asia for a couple of months. In April 2014, I am part of a group exhibition at the NS Archives and in September and in October, this group (Tom Forrestall, Steven Rhude, Shelley Mitchell, Paul Hannon, Susan Paterson, Ed Huner, Gord MacDonald and myself) are exhibiting in Truro and Inverness.