Melvin Vincent – Focus on Local Artists – Issue #138

Melvin Vincent

December 2023

For this month, the Winnipeg River Arts Council features woodcrafter and visual artist, Melvin Vincent. A lifelong resident of St. Georges for more than six decades, he is a self-taught artist with a great fondness for wood. He loves depicting wildlife and fish on wood slabs of various sizes coated with oil or high gloss finishes, and making exquisite charcuterie boards.

His interest in wildlife evolved from his time in the bush as a woodcutter for Pine Falls Pulp and Paper Mill. This awareness of nature led to fifteen years of preserving boreal animals through taxidermy. Before the mill ceased operations, he also worked in the thermal mechanical section and, prior to that, he sharpened materials in the stone ground area.

A few years ago, motivated by local chainsaw carvers, Vincent joined the Winnipeg River Carving Association. When some carvers required slabs to make benches, he went out and bought a portable Alaskan saw mill. This purchase opened up a world of new artistic possibilities for him. He has sliced up hundreds of cottonwood, poplar, and other woods into slabs up to 42” inches wide. He applies his artwork to the seasoned slabs to create intricate benches and wall art.

Also, Vincent uses these slabs and buckets of epoxy to create gorgeous live edge river tables. “Live edge” means the bark is not removed from the edges of the logs and the bark fringe adds striking visual interest. These days, his main passion is creating dramatic tables. He credits his wife, Annette, with helping him to make and market their live edge furniture.

When asked how he began making art, he said, “Several years ago, I was injured at work and was immobilized for six months. I started painting on canvas, and then made plaques and signs. After that, I switched to painting and etching on wood and birch bark.”

Vincent has no formal training but used lots of step-by-step books to teach himself about painting and drawing. He has also passed some of his skills to his grandchildren and said, “They seem to like it and some are pretty good at it.”

His words of encouragement for aspiring artists: “Nature is not perfect. Don’t try to make your art perfect. Just do it.”

From the looks of his many projects-in-progress and his full workshops, he keeps very busy. He also sells some of his work at summer markets in Lac du Bonnet and Victoria Beach. His business is called “Vincent Woodworking” and interested buyers can view his artwork on a Facebook Page of the same name. It’s worth the trip to St. Georges, just to see the magical creations he fashions from large slabs of wood. Call 204-367-4376 to learn more.

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