For this month, WRAC features visual artist Gary Holden, who grew up in St. Boniface. He lived in St. Albert, Alberta for eighteen years but returned to Steinbach after retirement. For almost nine years, he has lived in the Eastman area.
Holden’s love of art started early. Right from the beginning, the classical realists and the impressionists inspired him. He was determined to learn from them and read extensively about oil painting. As often happens, his keen interest got side-tracked in his late teens. However, in 2002, when approaching retirement, he found his way back, but felt he could not quite capture what he wanted to express.
Fortunately, he connected with an internationally known classical artist, based in Edmonton, and learned the principles of the old masters and use of monochromatic underpainting. Although he learned these established skills about fourteen years ago, he still considers himself a developing artist. Holden says, “With these techniques, my work instantly transformed and the results were what I wanted as an artist”
Since moving to the region, he has become involved with Norman and St. Vital artist groups, Winnipeg River Arts Council and Manitoba Society of Artists. He’s also founding chair of the Southeast artist group and a former board member of Steinbach Arts Council, and has served on their visual arts and exhibit committees. He has presented his work in numerous shows and sales, including Artarama, Red River Exhibition, and Eastman Judged Art Exhibition. In 2010, he had his first solo show at Steinbach Arts Centre Gallery. His work has garnered various prestigious awards from judged arts exhibitions in St. James, Norman, Beausejour, Steinbach, Pinawa, and Fire & Water Show in Lac du Bonnet.
He focuses on realism, with a special interest in portraits, florals and naturalistic landscapes. Starting with a strong composition and accurate sketching, he uses burnt sienna to coax out the warm rich values and shapes, and then adds layers of softly applied colour. He says, “It takes time, patience and dedication to become an accomplished artist. Sharing this journey with fellow artists is both rewarding and inspirational.”