Nicola Lynn Cooper has been creating textures and colours for more than 30 years, and right now through Nov. 25, she’s showing off the results of those years of practice at Sybil Andrews Cottage in Willow Point.
“When I was about 13,” Cooper says, “I came across a piece of art on the wall of a home where I was babysitting. It was a three-dimensional collage in a box.”
Her first thought was, “I could do that,” and she set about playing with paper and found objects, creating art, not worrying about whether she was “doing it right” or even if it was any good.
“I never worried about whether they were good. I just did it.”
Later, in her 20s, she was missing that creative spark that held her attention in her early teens, and decided to take a pottery class at the University of Saskatchewan.
“I loved the experience of working with texture and shape and I loved the detachment of being able to discard and transform pieces as they revealed themselves to me,” she says.
But she couldn’t afford a potter’s wheel of her own, and lost interest from not being able to fully pursue her art properly. As luck would have it, however, she soon found herself in Barrie, Ont. and so she enrolled at Georgian College.
“I was in my mid-30s and yearned to explore new elements of design and self-expression,” she says.
And it was during a summer paper-making class, she found her artistic “self” that continues to this day.
“It was an extension of my youthful interest in finding new materials, recycling, making sheets of different colours and textures and creating three-dimensional structures.”
She loved the idea of making art from materials that were readily available, such as plant fibres, napkins, posters and cloth.
Then she discovered Chigiri-e, the Japanese art of torn-paper collage, and realized that’s what she’d been doing for quite some time.
“While the Japanese work primarily used finer papers…I worked with texture as a signal element in producing what I termed ‘Paperscapes.’”
She got into painting after returning to Canada following a two-year stint in England, finding herself wanting to explore a fresh angle.
She experimented with adding watercolour paint as an added medium with paper and found materials, but she had never been confident about her drawing and paintings skills, so she enrolled in yet another class. She liked the results she was getting in class adding watercolour to her toolbox of skills, and has since began adding more and more painting – including moving on to acrylic and oils – into her work.
“Paint & Paper,” her aptly named show at Sybil Andrews Cottage, is open from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. through Nov. 25.