Local artist Woody McGibbon continues to explore the seemingly boundless artistic possibilities via watercolour.
Originally from South Africa, he recalls an interest in art that extends back many years, but it wasn’t until coming to Canada in 1996 that he really began to explore his own potential as an artist.
McGibbon and his wife Sybil eventually relocated to Stettler in 2013.
In Edmonton, he had met acclaimed artist Gregg Johnson and started attending some of his workshops there. Something was sparked, and Woody has never looked back since.
“Gregg would paint at these workshops, and then we would go back to our little easels and paint as well. We could paint whatever we wanted.
“It took off from there, and I’ve just really enjoyed it,” he said during a recent chat.
“I had always wanted to paint in watercolours – I’m fascinated by the medium.”
It’s also clear he’s got a gift for what he does. From expansive prairie scenes and rugged barns to delicate flowers to detailed, compelling images of birds (McGibbon is also an avid bird watcher), there is abundant and striking variety in what he puts his hand to.
Watercolour is by no means a simple medium to work with, but Woody’s portraits reflect an obvious ability. There is boldness in style, and there is also a knack for intricate design.
“It’s a medium that is difficult to paint with – it’s got a mind of its own. Once you’ve lost the ‘white’ in the picture, it’s gone forever,” he explained. “But the colours that you can get are just brilliant,” he said.
There is versatility there as well.
“You can paint on dry paper, or you can wet the paper first and then paint on it,” he said. Moisture, or lack of it, has a direct effect on how the paints ultimately meld or ‘take shape’ on the paper. “When you do it, you have to do it right the first time basically,” he added.
McGibbon had worked as a draftsman, and that career, with its attention to planning and detail in particular, helped to provide a foundation for his art. “Being able to get the right perspective is big help for sure,” he explained.
“It’s also relaxing,” he said, noting just one of the many benefits of delving into such a rich creativity. “I also paint mostly in the winter time.”
He also belongs to the Church Mice – a local group of artists who meet each week in the Stettler United Church to paint.
“It’s also a place where you can bounce ideas off of each other,” he said.
For McGibbon, summer is mainly for gardening, but as mentioned, when the colder months are upon us – out come the paints and brushes and a flurry of projects to work on.
For more about McGibbon and his work, find him on Facebook at ‘Woody’s Watercolours’.