Artist Carney Oudendag is one of the many featured artists in Invermere's annual Tour of the Arts taking place this year on August 5.

Tour of the Arts with The Valley Echo: Site no. 2

This is the second instalment of a five-part series on the Tour of the Arts.

Editor’s note: This is the second instalment of a five-part series on the Tour of the Arts, Invermere’s annual art gala taking place on Sunday, August 5. Each of the five stories will feature one artist from every one of the five tour locations. Artist Carney Oudendag’s art will be on display at Site no. 2.

When the Tour of the Arts takes over Invermere next month, Calgary and Windermere-based artist Carney Oudendag is looking forward to what she calls an always incredible event.

“I think it’s amazing, I’m getting lots of different perspectives — I’ve seen the perspective of the organizing committee and the amazing dedication of people who aren’t paid one cent to bring that all together for us,” Oudendag said. “As for being an artist, it’s such an organic place to do art… it’s outdoors, the sites are beautiful… making art is very isolating, so it’s really nice to meet the public, and other artists.”

A teacher for 28 years, Oudendag quit her teaching job about four years ago to focus on her artwork. Despite being an art major, she said that as an elementary school teacher she rarely had the opportunity to focus on that one aspect of her education. Her love of art began as a child growing up in a small prairie town, without a lot of artistic influences around.

“Grain elevators, cows and bibles were the big three things,” Oudendag joked.

She began attending art college later in the ’70s, but quickly realized that art is rarely a full-time gig, and made the decision to become a teacher and to work on her art in her spare time.

“I got a bit of a wake-up call when I realized artists didn’t have dental plans, and that you really had to do two jobs in a lot of cases,” Oudendag laughed. “I guess I was just kind of naive.”

As the years went by, Oudendag began to refine her style and the subjects she explored. Originally a fan of watercolour and still life, Oudendag chanced upon a collage workshop a number of years ago and was instantly hooked. Since then, she has evolved her style even further into a mixed media format that takes advantage of everyday objects.

“Every year I try and mix it up,” Oudendag said. “I know that can be frowned upon in art, that you’re supposed to not look too scattered, and you’re supposed to have themes. I do have repeating themes, but every year I try and challenge myself to do different things and take some risks.”

Oudendag said that while she has attended a number of professional workshops, much of her style comes from self-education and experimentation. She has also begun to go a little simpler with some of her work, as she said she’s trying to move more towards non-representation from realism.

“I think what I’m striving for from where I was a while ago is just trying to make the invisible visible,” Oudendag explained. “Not spelling everything out, or feeling like I have to explain everything to the viewer… I like to leave some things unsaid. I try and make my art a bit quirky, but also layered, and mixed media lends itself to layering… you get an initial impression, and then you dig deeper.”

This year, Oudendag will take part in the Tour of the Arts as an artist for the third consecutive year. She plans on showing roughly 15 pieces at site number two, and couldn’t say enough about both the tour and the Columbia Valley art community.

“It’s a beautiful art community,” Oudendag said. “It’s very supporting and encouraging, and I don’t think I’d be where I am today without them.”

The other artists at site number 2 — the home of the Niddries at 2331 13 Avenue— are Sandra Beingessner, Scott Bellows, Jane Doel, Deanna Gauthier, Julie Gibb, Anne McGilvary, John Niddrie, June Thomsen and Nell Tobler.

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