I want to introduce Aeleen, aka @prairiegirlstudio, our featured artist this month. She is the beautiful model behind many of our product photos. I met Aeleen at a photography retreat last September in Canada. We discovered very quickly that we were kindred spirits. Lovers of textiles and vintage overalls! Read her story below.
Words from Aeleen
It is quite humbling and delightful to be here.
I greatly admire Deb Spofford’s amazing artistry and am very grateful for the day we met at Kim Klassen’s Finding Stillness Retreat in 2016. It was serendipity and a gift as I was freshly beginning an exploration into natural dyes with fabrics, so I was ‘over the moon’ fascinated in her story and creative process.
The natural dying and eco printing is just the latest in this prairie girl’s artful journey through life.
Since I can remember, I have had an unquenchable thirst for all things creative. My parents were instrumental in showing me the beauty in our natural world, no matter the elements of the day. Embracing a thirty below blizzard on a prairie day and finding the gift in that day is deeply ingrained. I was and am captivated with the beauty in it all.
As a child, I was encouraged to explore art and music and ‘learn to do by doing’. Through our local 4-H program, I was introduced to sewing and loved creating and designing clothes for my dolls. Later, through 4-H, I learned how to paint with oils in a self determined project. This led to attending art programs at a nearby community art festival for a number of years. Creating with others was an indescribable joy.
I remember vividly in my late teens realizing and deciding that one ought to work at something they loved, above the dollar figure earned, as I just couldn’t rob myself of eight plus hours a day doing something that was drudgery in order to enjoy the few hours before and after work. Minutes have always mattered.
Two years in a commercial art program opened the doors to a career in layout design, graphic art and web design. Along the way, I was given many opportunities in other media as well and always took these opportunities with the attitude of ‘sure,I’ll try that!’ and really saw each one as an extension of creative living. Over the years I added the skills of radio and television copy writing; creative director for radio, print and television; publicist; publication editor; film art director and through these experiences, I gained a natural ability to also offer marketing consulting in all media. Continuity meant everything, whether a small business or large corporation. Through the graphic design work, I developed an eye for style and styling. I was always drawn to the imagery that accompanied whatever I was looking at, whether still for print, or video for the screen. It was all related.
While this knack to create a commercial appeal to the senses of others was very rewarding, I yearned for the day of creating art for myself. Somewhere along the way, I found myself enthralled with catching beauty with my first little fuji digital camera, snapping anything that ‘shone’ at me. The photos seemed to satisfy a bit of that personal creative desire. I then began to take the odd photograph to assist client’s campaigns in my home based Prairie Girl Studio design and marketing business.
After thirty some years in the media world, I gave up my business after the passing of my father, the need to take care of my mother, and the challenges of ‘teen, almost adult’ family life. It was a crazy time as I was struggling with losing my professional identity, feeling like there was no longer a fulfilling creative outlet, and the beginning of empty nesting. Ouch.
My dear friend, Kim Klassen, who was ‘soaring’ in her new found photography and texture offerings, knew what this girl needed and gifted me a spot in one of Tracey Clark’s photography classes, which so thankfully gave my creative self the spark I needed, at the perfect time.
The studio space which I had utilized for business now felt strange somehow. I had a sit down with myself to find out what it was and how I would go forward, knowing I had to return to art, for me. It was quite a hard transition as I had created with others in mind and now I had to create with me in mind.
It came to me that my favourite creating moments were with people, like I had done in the art festival in my youth. I rearranged my space and began offering ‘open studio’ once a week for three hours each time. For about three years, a number of artist friends brought whatever they were working on ~ writing, painting, sketching, knitting or sometimes they would just sit and sip tea and take in what the others were doing. It was through these sessions that we collectively began exploring various mediums. This is where I fell in love with alcohol inks and continue to experiment.
Meanwhile, (still with me?) Kim grew and grew from her home based business into her amazing studio space of today. When she asked if I would assist her in hosting retreats, well you can imagine how open I was! We have shared an electric creative friendship for over twenty years and had waited for moments like these to collaborate. She always challenges me and I am always open, so when she presented a batik hanging for her 2016 Finding Stillness photography retreat, I said ‘sure, I’ll try that’! That opened the flood gates to a whole new exploration in dying, and because of my love and respect for nature, it meant natural dying with flora right from my yard and gardens. One thing led to another and I then became intrigued with the Japanese shibori style of eco printing on fabric, which led to eco printing on paper. Every plant I see now gets eyed up as potential for colour and imprint shapes. Whew.
Recently, Kim offered me to work with her two days a week including photo and scene styling which has me tickled beyond beyond. The new found eco printing and the completely zingy creative work with Kim fills my artful heart.
This prairie girl simply couldn’t be more grateful for this entire journey ‘so far’, and the chance to share it with you.
Be sure to follow Aeleen here.