Some people see art, or potential art, all around them. Canace is one of these people. A mixed media artist who works largely with found materials, she creates everything from jewelry to assemblages as well as prints and collage paintings. If I try to describe her work, I won’t do it justice; better to check out her shop on Etsy or her website. Recently, she was kind enough to answer a few questions:
You are involved in various mediums — could you describe how you’ve come to them?
Years ago I started painting with acrylics as they dry quickly. I then switched to oils for just that reason. I loved the sensuous nature of the oils and the open time to mix colors. I painted traditional landscapes and stills for some time but I still felt that something was missing.
My entire life I have been a ‘mother of invention’ sort of person. If you don’t have something then you make it… simple! Add to that my love for old things and giving them a new life and a new medium was born for me, assemblage. In addition to the assemblages are my art jewelry pieces which are also created with found objects.
Graphic art presented a whole new universe of opportunities to express myself. I taught myself by experimentation how to use Photoshop. It’s an incredibly sophisticated program with unlimited potential, a very exciting medium for me. I enjoy the challenges of bringing an idea to fruition within the parameters of Photoshop. An idea comes to mind, whether it is a fantasy concept or collage elements pulled from my collection of images, the magic of Photoshop makes it happen for me. One of my most successful ACEO graphic series was ‘Nature’s Child’, where I not only created the collaged elements with my own photography, I also wrote a short story to go with each child. The ‘House of Mary Noble’ ACEO series tells a haunting tale of a young girl who makes a wish that she could be with her family forever.
I honestly can’t imagine working in only one medium. I would find it very restricting and ultimately boring.
Your bugs are so strangely beautiful. Have you always had an interest in bugs and the natural world?
I grew up with nature as the playground of my active imagination. I could see little elves living in the crevices of a mossy embankment. A mud puddle offered the opportunity to create a world of rivers, trees and little leaf boats that ants could travel on. Evenings brought the magic of lightning bugs, floating like little fairies throughout our woods. So yes, I’ve always had an interest and a love for nature and all of its perfection.
My Divine Design Series is a compilation of insects, architectural drawings and a smattering of ‘found objects’.
How do you decide on an assemblage? Do you start with a single item? A theme?
Generally I would have to say that I start with a concept in mind. Then I rummage through my extensive collections of rusty things and dragonfly wings until I have a feel for what would best represent my concept. It may seem a simple process but I’ve been known to wait months for the perfect ‘something’ to finish a piece. A lot of trial and error is involved, marrying otherwise unrelated items into what I believe is a cohesive balance that conveys my thoughts and feelings.
Where do you find your materials?
I have been a collector my entire life and now I have the joy of being able to give those things a new life as a piece of art. I love nothing better than a treasure hunt, whether it’s at an estate sale, flea market, salvage yard or in some cases in the woods where I find beautiful lichens, mosses, tree bark, pine cones etc.
Where in the Hudson Valley are you? Have you found a local creative community?
I live in Burlingham, N.Y. which is in the Mid-Hudson Valley bordering on the Catskill Mountains. My home and studio are on the side of the Shawangunk Mountains where I can overlook my gardens and trees.
I have the perfect best friend who is passionate in her work with jewelry. She comes to my house to share my studio and create whatever we feel inclined to do at any given time. It might be a new technique or perhaps a new medium. Either way it’s wonderful to have a good friend who appreciates the same things and loves to create.
Not far from here is the Wallkill River School of Art in Montgomery, where there are many local artists teaching in various mediums and I have met several artists there who have become friends as well.
On your website, you mention shows in which you’ve participated. Could you name a few?
The Pine Bush Art Walk is a lovely opportunity for us here to display and sell our work and I have participated several times. The Wallkill River School offers the same opportunity once a year. I have paintings on display in New Hampshire at Mills Falls and sell here locally at Quimby & Smith.
Currently the majority of my assemblages and art jewelry are for sale at High Falls Mercantile in High Falls, N.Y. It’s an amazing store that you would swear had been picked up from the heart of Manhattan and transplanted right here in our beautiful valley. I am truly honored to have my work there and privileged to be a part of their wonderful family.
What do you do when you’re not creating?
Creating is like breathing. I can’t imagine not doing either, but when I am not actively working hands on I like to read or work in the gardens and my husband and I like to camp with our two dogs in the Adirondack Mountains or New Hampshire where my daughter Brianne lives. Two of my gardens are water gardens where all sorts of wonderful creatures live; frogs, newts, dragonflies, birds and fish. Did you know that you can hand-feed worms to frogs? I guess I’m still that little girl in the woods looking for the fairies.