Introduction

Her Art Story began as a homework assignment. I was taking a class with an art consultant, who asked her students to think of an art practice we could develop on the side. Constrained by my busy schedule and my own practical nature, I decided to weave two interests together: art history and drawing.

As an abstract artist, much of my self-study has followed the expressionist movement and its key artists. And because I have always loved the freedom and beautiful mark-making that blind contour drawings create, I decided to study a piece of abstract artwork by drawing it in my sketchbook before learning more about the piece and its artist online and at the library.

The first piece I chose was Picasso’s Guernica. Ever since I walked through Guernica on the Camino del Norte a few years ago, the work has been on my list of “must-sees.”

The second piece was Deer Skull with Pedernal by Georgia O’Keeffe. I fell in love with the painting and spent hours researching O’Keeffe’s life and art. I was so inspired that I decided to use my notes to write a brief biography about her.

Soon afterwards, I noticed that Deer Skull with Pedernal and O’Keeffe’s biography were included in my daughter’s first-year university art history textbook. The information was obviously added as part of the newer edition, and as I flipped through the pages, I noticed how many little “side boxes” had been inserted in the textbook—almost all of them were about female artists. Although they were now included after several editions of exclusion, they still seemed like afterthoughts. Their stories were not written into the book’s main content, and their works were rarely featured as central achievements in art history. It was a revelation to me. From that point on, I have studied the work of women artists, using the blind contour technique as a starting point of access.

Gradually, my blind contour drawings developed into a series of paintings. A few months into my research, I realized that I knew very little about female artists in my own country. I’m a Canadian woman, but could I name #5womenartists from Canada? I decided to do something about my lack of awareness of the very field I belong to.

Marlene wearing her artgirlrising T-shirt

I’m proud to write that I have now created a series that I’m calling Blind Contour Homage. It includes paintings and biographies of Canadian women artists that I have come to love and admire. I have a collection of over thirty artists on this site. Each of my blind contour drawings of their work is accompanied by a biography of the artist. What was originally a side project has become a lifelong pursuit.

Her Art Story is just a beginning. My hope is that many more projects—by me and by others—will use this site a resource and an inspiration.

“We are rightly conscious to address various groups’ and individuals’ under-representation in our present and future. We can only do this meaningfully by addressing the same in our history.”

If you have an idea or a project that brings more awareness to female artists and their work, please reach out.

Marlene

 

Learn more about blind contour drawing here.

 

Paintings

Blind Contour Homage Series – Canadian Female Artists

Blind Contour Homage: Heward by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Clark by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Bobak by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Rutherford by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Walker by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Pootoogook by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Oonark by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Mulcaster by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Shepherd by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Hamilton by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: McGillivray by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Pratt by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Macdonald-Brown by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Smith by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Carr by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Odjig by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Berman by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Lewis by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Kalvak by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Ashevak by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Savage by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Ferron by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Wieland by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Harris by Marlene Lowden
Blind Contour Homage: Ishulutaq by Marlene Lowden

 

Artist statement

This series emerged from Marlene Lowden’s captivation with female Canadian artists, many of whom are significantly under-recognized in the Canadian art canon. Their contributions deserve to be celebrated as singular expressions of dedication, endurance, and rebelliousness. With a desire to educate herself about the lives of female artists in Canada’s history, Lowden studied the lives and practices of skilled female artists from several regions, each with diverse cultural heritages. She was awed by the challenges they faced and the sacrifices they made to pursue art as their life’s purpose.

Lowden’s encounters with this work transformed her understanding of Canadian art history. Thus this series operates as an homage to those artists whose work was overlooked and turned aside, even as it helped to shape the Canadian aesthetic landscape we know today.

The series is titled “A Blind Contour Homage” because this style of drawing provides the base for each piece. It allows Lowden to study each of the historical works closely, giving her the freedom to recreate them with her own marks and gestures. Lowden then imbues her own stylized process upon each piece, balancing the original features of the painting with her own in an almost collaborative process.

“I hope my audience comes away invigorated by new knowledge about Canada’s female artists; I want the names of Odjig, Clark, Pootoogook, and Heward to become as familiar to them as Harris, Varley, Bush, and Town,” says Lowden.

Due to the types of conversations these pieces are designed to spark, Lowden hopes to inspire a new generation of youth interested in art history, compelling adults and children alike to investigate what still lies within the shadows of Canada’s artistic cultural fabric.

We are rightly conscious to address various groups’ and individuals’ under-representation in our present and future. We can only do this meaningfully by addressing the same in our history.

Exhibition Schedule:

Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre, Nov 1-22, 2019

Place des Arts, Coquitlam, Feb 14 – Mar 12 2020
1120 Brunette Avenue, Coquitlam

The Gibsons Public Art Gallery, Feb 15 – Mar 8 2020
431 Marine Drive

Summerland Art Centre, May 14 – June 27, 2020 (postponed)

 

Learn about each artist included in the Homage series: