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Joanne Stoffels is on a treasure hunt

Kleanza Creek
18” x 36″
Acrylic on canvas
Clear, cool, shade and light; Kleanza Creek near Terrace, BC is a spectacular stop along the highway. The lighting in this scene challenged me.

Interview with an artist

*****

Smithers, BC artist Joanne Stoffels believes life is a treasure hunt for beauty. And she finds an endless source of inspiration right outside her window in ever-changing mountains, dramatic cloudscapes, tiny blue forget-me-not blooming in her garden, and in the fragile, fleeting beauty of the cherry blossom. Scanning for compositions and framing scenes through windows has become a way of life for Joanne: “My six children, all grown now, and my patient husband humor me as they are called once again to observe the magnificence and share the joy.”

Stoffels “sees” paintings while singing the Psalms, or reading Scripture. She often feels as though a painting is just “waiting to burst forth from the edges of my imagination – abstract colours and shapes moving across the page.” The term gloryscope (something she picked up from pastor and author Paul Tripp) resonates deeply with Joanne and she hopes that her artistic creations will draw others closer to the wonders of the true Creator.

Stoffels started to paint about 10 years ago, sticking mostly to subjects which she has personally experienced. Mountains, forests and the alpine feature prominently. “Many of my paintings are of places that hold a special memory. Some work is more representational, some leans more to ‘abstract landscape.’”

Stoffels is curious about other artists’ experiences too. Especially in her first years of art, she explored the work of Emily Carr and the Group of Seven. “The writings of Emily Carr gave me a feeling of kinship, ‘trying to get that joyous worshipping into the woods and mountains, the works of the Lord.’” She admires the way the Group of Seven in particular have captured our immense, glorious country in a “bold and raw new kind of art.”

Currently Joanne works when she can in her dining room/studio whenever inspiration strikes.

“Our home has quite a creative, relaxed vibe to it. An easel might be up and the table littered with supplies for several weeks before we tidy it all up again, scrape paint from the table, and use it for guests or family dinner.”

She sells her work privately and through a thriving artisan shop in Smithers, called Out of Hand. You can follow Joanne on Instagram @paintingsbyjoannestoffels. You can also connect with the artist by email at [email protected]. Also, some of her work has been transformed into stickers, available on her daughter Montana’s blueskyartshop.square.site store.

Late Summer 12” x 36″ Acrylic on canvas – This bright piece captures a late summer sunset from our driveway. In the evening the world melts into blocks of colour.

If you have a suggestion for an artist you’d like to see profiled in RP please email Jason Bouwman at [email protected]. You can also follow Jason on Instagram: @jaybouwman.

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Interview with an artist

Jim Menken transforms tree trunks!

Interview with an artist ***** An 8-foot tall grizzly! When you think of a sculptor, the image of a chainsaw does not immediately come to mind. But for Ontario sculptor and carver Jim Menken, the chainsaw is the tool of choice for creating his masterpieces large and small. Menken has had a lifelong interest in art. But in 2003, while still working as a teacher, Jim saw a chainsaw carver at a local festival and became so enthralled with the process that upon arriving home later that day he carved a heron! And he literally has been carving ever since – transforming old trees, stumps and logs into beautiful works of art for a wide range of clients. Jim took up this new passion full time in 2005. He now lives and carves in the town of Mono in beautiful Dufferin County (about 1 hour north west of Toronto) on a property that is perfect for a chainsaw carver; isolated, and with no neighbors within earshot. He has never advertised once and the phone calls and emails have never stopped since. Jim considers this a gift – an answer to prayer. Jim is inspired by God’s creation and uses his God-given talents, a chainsaw and a few other tools to depict animals, people, and select objects as realistically as possible. Jim’s portfolio includes bears, beavers, birds of prey, critters and pets. Living close to the Bruce Trail and the breath-taking Hockley Valley, provides Jim with an endless stream of inspiration and interesting subjects to draw from. This commission was of a grandfather who'd played lacrosse in his younger days. Interestingly, Jim does not title his pieces! This is partly because Jim’s work is almost 100% commissioned. He does not create pieces and then try to sell them. Rather, Menken enjoys the challenge of commissioned works where the client picks the subject. Menken says his clients often have memories attached to their trees and will ask him to carve something to help preserve those memories. In this way Jim meets many different people from different backgrounds and his life and work intersect with many interesting stories. In 2005 Jim was commissioned to carve the veteran for Gage Park in Brampton. It was an existing tree in the park. The legion is close by and veteran Bill Bettridge was used as a model. Unfortunately, the tree had a bit of a seam in it, so it began to decay over time. In 2013 a replacement carving was commissioned. Last year the city commissioned a bronze sculpture modeled after Jim’s original carving which was returned to Jim who then passed it on to Bill's family. Jim has never set foot back in the classroom but he is available for chainsaw carving demonstrations throughout the year. In the winter he demonstrates ice carving and sculpture. Perhaps he’ll inspire the next budding sculptor to lay down the traditional tools and pick up a chainsaw instead. It appears you can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher. Jim is married to artist Deb Menken, and has 3 grown children who are all artistic as well! He is a member of the Orangeville Canadian Reformed Church. Visit Jim’s website, JimMenken.com, to learn more about his work and you can also follow him on Facebook (@JimMenkenCarving) and Instagram (@jimmenken). If you have a suggestion for an artist you’d like to see profiled in RP please email Jason Bouwman at [email protected]....