Multi-disciplinary artist ML Kenneth shows off some of the art techniques she’ll be teaching as part of her creative watercolour summer series - the artist’s first classes in the area, being held at the MAC. — Adam Kveton

Don’t copy: tap into creativity

Multi-disciplinary artist holding first local classes at MAC

If a blank page waiting for art tends to paralyze you, a new local artist hopes to have the cure.

Photographer, painter, poet and printmaker ML Kenneth is holding her first classes in the area after moving from Winnipeg, Man., to Parksville’s San Pareil neighbourhood in 2016.

The Creative Watercolour Summer Series includes three classes – the last Saturday of every month starting June 24.

Kenneth said her aim is to help artists unleash their creativity by introducing new concepts and techniques each class to try out and experiment with. Rather than try to reproduce another work or create a rendition of a landscape, she wants her students to tap into a more abstract muse.

But it can be easier said than done.

“(Sometimes artists) get a piece of paper and they are like, ‘Ahhh, what do I do with this?’” Kenneth said. To get through that initial paralyzation, Kenneth introduces a new technique each class, providing some history on it, and works to provide a safe, co-operative space where people can experiment and create without fear of failure, she said.

“‘What if I make a mistake?’ Well let’s just blow through a lot of paper,” said Kenneth.

The techniques she’ll be introducing are paper marbling, blind drawing and stencil making, which participants will apply by using watercolours and various other media.

For Kenneth, getting her degree in art has been a long-time goal – one which she achieved in 2010, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the University of Manitoba.

“Realizing my dream of getting my art degree was really great, kind of later in life,” she said. “And then quickly after you start creating, you want to share that with others, so that’s either in gallery shows or in teaching and things like that and getting people really excited about art and creating.”

Kenneth describes her own work as storytelling, and chooses what medium she wants to work in based on that story.

Her creative interests have her focusing on various types of photography recently.

With her photography, she said,

“I love telling people’s stories as far as what they are going through in their lives.

“I did a (photo) book last year called ‘Woman Redefined’ and it was published by a publishing house in Toronto, and I told 51 women’s stories, post-breast cancer.”

Kenneth has also done more experimental photography work with alternative film processes and DIY cameras.

“My favourite thing is to walk around with a tin can with a hole in it,” she said with a laugh, describing her pinhole camera.

One of her experiments was to create a pinhole camera with two holes, creating a sort of double-exposure.

“It turned out really cool,” she said, adding that one of the reasons she loves that experimental process is because you don’t know how it will turn out.

“With abstract art and with watercolour and with this type of photography, there is always the spontaneity to it,” said Kenneth. “You are not quite sure of the results that you’re going to get. And that to me is what really ignites the creative process.”

Most recently, Kenneth is working on a West Coast flora series that uses the cyanotype process to create a sort of blueprint relief of wildflowers and plant life she finds in her garden and during walks through the forest.

Kenneth’s classes are $55 each or $150 for all three. The first is on June 24, and they all run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, go to mcmillanartscentre.com/creative-watercolour-summer-series/.