Category Archives: Art Show

Jocelyn Duchek

“I’d Rather be Painting” – Meet Jocelyn Duchek

fullsizeoutput_1d62I am a frequent driver of Highway 22, but it took me several trips to turn onto Main Street Esterhazy to check it out. Imagine my delight to spot an art gallery – Jocelyn’s Fine Art Gallery – on Main Street. A large, airy space with good light, Jocelyn’s gallery features her own art, art and pottery by local and guest artists, a place for art classes, and a selection of art materials. I soon made a point of stopping in at  Jocelyn’s Art Gallery every time I drove Highway 22. (For those who don’t believe that art can stimulate economic activity, I have now purchased items from at least 5 other Esterhazy businesses!) I enjoyed seeing the new art as it came in, and I was curious about the dynamic woman behind all of this – Jocelyn Duchek. It is no small thing to keep an art gallery going in a place the size of Esterhazy (pop 3000). I wanted to learn more about this vital, friendly woman who is also a gifted artist, teacher and entrepreneur.

As a small girl, Jocelyn Duchek loved to sketch. She was very young when her dad asked her to draw a  moose for a hunting buddy of his. Her dad gave his friend Jocelyn’s moose drawing (regretting that later) and Jocelyn remembers that he bragged about that moose picture for the remainder of his days. Both her parents supported her love of drawing but there were not many opportunities for her to learn more. She wanted to try painting but she had no idea where or how to begin. As a teen, she continued to draw a lot and attended Fort San Summer School for the Arts. It was a fabulous experience for her but there was no real instruction. “Be free, be loose,” she was told. Jocelyn felt lost and wanted more in the way of guidance.

By the time Jocelyn Duchek was 24, she was married with three young children and little time for art. But creativity will find its outlet. Jocelyn poured her energy into sewing (which was practical as well), into creating dough art,  crafting porcelain dolls, and working with ceramics. She spent 7 years helping with her sister’s leather business sewing mukluks and purses. Eventually, Jocelyn returned to school which led to a career working with children with disAbilities , coordinating a respite program for their families, and later, working with special needs students in the school system.  Jocelyn put her heart and soul into this work but was beginning to feel burned out and tired. After about 10 years of this work, Jocelyn became gravely ill  with ulcerative colitis and required  a number of surgeries. As she slowly  began to heal, she went back to work part time, feeling that while it was time for a change in her focus, she didn’t really know what to do next.

img_1444In 2004,  a friend invited her to come to art class with Ward Schell.  Jocelyn uncharacteristically said yes instantly.  Off she went. “It totally opened my eyes. I learned how to start a painting, I learned how do a painting, I learned how to make it look 3-D. I still have this first little grain elevator I painted. I show it to students now. That little grain elevator led to another painting, and another, and so on. I would finish a painting and go “Wow! Did I do that?”  I was so very excited about painting. I just could not stop talking about the painting process to everyone I met.”

By 2010, Jocelyn’s enthusiasm caught fire and soon people were asking her to teach painting.burst She gave up her job, did some renovating in her home and had a small gallery there as well as a place to teach. The first classes were in her former master bedroom. She found that learning to teach was the best possible education – she took classes, she learned about colour theory. She eventually began taking photos of her work step by step, so that she could show people her process. “I just get lost in the zone when I am painting, so until I did that I didn’t really know how to teach what I was doing.” There was a great hunger in Esterhazy for art classes – both for adults and children. Jocelyn’s home became too small and  she tried out 2 different locations before moving to her present gallery space in 2014. Throughout it all, her husband Ken was “incredibly supportive.”

Jocelyn Duchek

“Room to Breathe”, 30 x 40

Jocelyn Duchek

“New Life”, 24 x 24 by Jocelyn Duchek

Jocelyn Duchek

“A Life That is Good”, 16 x 20 by Jocelyn Duchek









Some of Jocelyn Duchek’s art is inspired by the boreal forest of Northern Saskatchewan. Each summer, she and husband Ken, along with friends and family camp at a number of lakes – Armet, Steeprock, Rocky. For Jocelyn, the northern forests are healing and rejuvenating places. “I don’t mind fishing,” says Jocelyn. “But I’d rather be painting!” The men would go fishing and many of the women would paint. She loves to paint abstracts as well using acrylics and  alcohol ink. She finds that the different mediums balance one another – the poured paint gives her a sense of freedom and looseness that complements her more representational work.

Jocelyn duchek

“Fluid Aura” by Jocelyn Duchek

“I just kept offering what I felt I needed and couldn’t find in Esterhazy, ” says Jocelyn. As well as wanting art classes, Jocelyn wanted a place to display her work. Early in her art career, she applied to a few art galleries and was rejected.  Part of her dream today is to offer a place for aspiring local artists to hold their first show. She offers them guidance, encouragement and know-how.

Jocelyn’s Art Gallery continues to evolve, to thrive and to grow. Recently, Jocelyn  had a vision that will not leave her alone. “I figure if it won’ t let me go, I better I act on it.” In the new year, she and Ken are going to create a “forest room” – a meditative place in the front of the gallery. When you enter this room, you will know you are somewhere special. She herself began meditating 5 years ago. “I have always been a  very busy type of person”, Jocelyn says. “Meditation has calmed me, has slowed me down a bit which I do find also helps inspire my creative side. It is catching on in Esterhazy. People are taking yoga and becoming more aware of the healing possibilities of art as well as meditation.” Jocelyn now has meditation cushions for sale, and will soon be adding Himilayan salt lamps and other like products. “You have to be inventive in a small town. You have to think about what is needed in the town and what will bring people in. It takes running classes, hosting events, selling supplies and other products. You can’t just sell art or you’d be out of business before you start.”

“I am doing what I love best,” says Jocelyn Duchek. “I have no doubt that creating art is 100% healing. For me, painting took me back to a place deep within me, that creative place that I had left far behind.” It is a great gift to all of us that Jocelyn reconnected with that long lost creative well within.buffalo-mural

Off the Beaten Track – An Art Haven

Jada and I in "Sue's Art Haven". Thanks Dawn R for the photo!

Jada and I in “Sue’s Art Haven”. Thanks Dawn R for the photo!

As I accept invitations to create art with different groups of people, I notice that I am really exploring. I am trying to figure out the ways that I want to move art out and into the world, and to learn which ways don’t work so well for me.

Take the recent Cathedral Village Arts Festival. I had a sense that I wanted to be a part of it somehow and an even stronger sense that I did not want to be a vendor and have a booth. So, I invited myself to two different places.

The first was Westminster United Church, located on 13th Avenue and a vital part of the Saturday street fair, hosting the first ever Saskatchewan on line art auction, 5 musical concerts and a pancake breakfast. Minister Darrell Reine offered me the “multi purpose room” and I liked the feel of it and decided to show some art and have a space for people to play with paper, called “PaPer Play”. The second place I invited myself was the Paper Umbrella, that beautiful and inspiring shop on 13th Avenue. Some of my rice paper bird panels hang in the windows there, so owners Theresa and Brad,  said I could come between 2 and 4 to create paper birds with anyone who wished to stop by.

At Westminster Church, I hoped that lots of people would come by to look at my art, and I also hoped to display it in a way that they could take some time with it and really see it.a panda, a bat and a bird

a panda, a bat and a bird

Nancy's rainbow bird

Nancy’s rainbow bird




All in all, about 100 people came, only a fraction of the mobs out on the street. Some of them were indeed able to take their time looking at the art. A few surprised themselves by creating paper creatures. A man with a headache came in to rest while his teenage children created birds. Another person came in and said… “Phewf, an art haven.” People came to rest while an energetic spouse checked out the Art Auction. Our small corner did have a haven like feel about it.

Jayne's bird meets LeeAnn's Dragon. Sue forgets to turn her flash on. Sorry!

Jayne’s bird meets LeeAnn’s Dragon. Sue forgets to turn her flash on. Sorry!

Early in the afternoon, I made my way down to the Paper Umbrella with my basket of paper scraps, scissors and glue.I could barely make my way through the crowd!! It was a beautiful day and it was wonderful to see so much colour, collective joy, occasional exhaustion, so much life on the street. Brad set me up at a table with – yes, an umbrella, but not a paper one – at the Paper Umbrella. A few stools, a very comfortable office chair with wheels that had me rolling backwards. This kept things exciting!! I began to do what I love to do – make paper birds. The river of people flowed by. Would anyone stop, I wondered? Maybe not….That’s okay, I told myself. You can be zen, and in this street of constant motion and stimulus, that could be a good thing. Then, a couple of families stopped by. They were totally keen to create paper birds, and so they did, happily, standing up, sitting on high stools, sharing glue and scissors. It briefly rained. The sun shone again. The wind blew some scraps down the street. More families stopped. To my great delight, my friend Cindy and her daughter Anieka’s found us. They had wheeled through the throngs all the way from Westminster Church where Cindy had expected to find me. It got really hot. The glue  in the glue sticks melted. So after one hour in the limelight, with glue that was no longer serviceable, I made my way back to the calm and quiet art haven at Westminster Church. Grateful for the quiet. Happy to be far from the crowd. Happy also about the crowd and high spirits.

The day wasn’t totally successful – at least not according to my expressed hopes. I did not get as much exposure as I hoped. It was a learning day, with much to reveal about how I am most comfortable moving my art into the world. For a number of people of all ages, the room in the church was a place for focused and quiet play, a place to sit and rest, a contemplative space, a bit of an escape. I wondered if that was exactly right, and if next year, providing a quiet space in all the hubbub might be my best contribution?

The small write up in the packed Cathedral Village Arts Festival booklet might read something like this: Sue’s Art Haven: Step off the beaten track and away from the crowd for a few moments. Enjoy soft music in a room filled with art to nurture the soul. Come simply to sit and relax or come and create a paper creature from Sue’s extensive collection of wonderful papers- washi, tissue, candy wrappers, cigarette foils, wrapping paper. For all ages. Free. At Westminster Church, go south on Cameron Street and take the first door in. Up the stairs and you are there.

Back at the Perth Farmer’s Market

In the Crystal Palace at the Perth Farmer's Market

In the Crystal Palace at the Perth Farmer’s Market

Alice visiting caught the back view of my head through the window.

Alice visiting caught the back view of my head through the window.


"Deep Diver" (Loon) and Water Snake #1 catch people's eye

“Deep Diver” (Loon) and Water Snake #1 catch people’s eye

"An Exultation of Larks" - I enjoy seeing how they look on different windows

“An Exultation of Larks” – I enjoy seeing how they look on different windows

"Fairies" with the market happening through the glass

“Fairies” with the market happening through the glass

Not at the market, but I could not resist. Some characters at the Bluegrass Festival that we arrived too late to enjoy

Not at the market, but I could not resist. Some characters at the Bluegrass Festival that we arrived too late to enjoy it

It is great to be back at the Perth Farmer’s Market! I set up my booth two years ago while spending time at Christie Lake, did well, met many interesting people and now I am back. I will be here for the next 2 Saturdays – July  27th and August 3rd from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. under the glass roof of the Crystal Palace. I have enjoyed two Saturdays here already – – many people said that they were drawn to my small corner full of colour and joy! Thank you for coming by.




Taking Flight – The Show

My art show, entitled “Taking Flight: An Exploration of Birds and Other Flying Creatures in the Art of Sue Bland” took place Mother’s Day Weekend (May 11 and 12, 2013) in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.

I learned that to mount an art show – and especially one called “Taking Flight”, I had to stay pretty darn grounded! It was definitely hard work, and absolutely full of joy for me. I was so thrilled that so many of all ages chose to hang around, drink some tea and make some beautiful art. Many beautiful rice paper birds, butterflies, snakes and pictures were created by folks from age 3 to age 88! Numerous  people helped me but I would especially like to thank the volunteers at the Qu’Appelle Valley Centre of the Arts, and my family, especially Shane and Jessie and Marina.

On Sunday morning, the first hour was very quiet, so I sat in the gallery, listened to music and looked around. Some of the art in the room comes from 25 years ago, and I have never seen my art at all in one place before. I could see that as well as a fascination with birds and other flying creatures, there is both movement and colour in my art which has remained consistent over the years. I had never noticed this before. I have not yet finished my explorations of “Taking Flight” in the form of blog posts, but I hope to. (See former posts Taking Flight 1, 2 and 3). The art show perhaps marked a starting point for further exploration of the flight theme.

I have chosen 15 photos for this post – you can see the entire collection in Past PLAYshops, Shows and Sales. Most of the  photos are courtesy of Susan Sorenson and Cherie Westmoreland. I thank them both.


The Qu'Appelle Valley Centre of the Arts was once a school

The Qu’Appelle Valley Centre of the Arts was once a school

Flowers from Mary

Flowers from Mary, Screen behind made by Justin

"An Exultation of Larks" Rice Paper on plexi-glass

“An Exultation of Larks”
Rice Paper on plexi-glass

Image 71

Tree of Birds - wax crayons, watercolour paint, 1991

Tree of Birds – wax crayons, watercolour paint, 1991

"Bird Woman" - Diana's Magic Lamp, 1 half a globe, a velvet hat, a heart, two rolls of paper, rice paper birds
“Bird Woman” – Diana’s Magic Lamp, half a globe, a velvet hat, a heart, two rolls of paper, rice paper birds

Image 90

Janaye and Natalie

Janaye and Natalie

Image 33

Ciane, Jared and boys

Ciane, Jared and boys

Image 73

L to R- Print- Earth Dances with Sky Where are You Now? Collage- Earth dances with Sky Collage- Autumn Flight Collage- Sunrise Ceremony

L to R-
Print- Earth Dances with Sky
Where are You Now?
Collage- Earth dances with Sky
Collage- Autumn Flight
Collage- Sunrise Ceremony

Part of the Fairy Section 2 Star fairies, and 1 Gypsy fairy

Part of the Fairy Section
2 Star fairies, and 1 Undaunted fairy



Gorgeous butterfly created by Chrysa who said "I am not creative!" WHAT???

Gorgeous butterfly created by Chrysa who said “I am not creative!” WHAT???

Some of the beautiful art created during "Taking Flight"

Some of the beautiful art created during “Taking Flight”




Taking Flight 2

This is the second post in a series which is focussed on my upcoming art show entitled “Taking Flight”.

My first memory of birds comes from the night sounds I heard as a young child at our family cottage near Christie Lake. In those days, we heard the whippoorwills at night. We seldom hear whippoorwills anymore but recently one spring at the cottage, I heard them again and a flood of memories and sensations returned with their soft “whippoorwill, whippoorwill”. We still hear crows in the very early morning at the lake, and many other places, including here at the farm. I love crows. A few years ago when I learned that crows distinguish between the people who live near them (meaning that they can tell the difference between my husband and I), I tried to observe the crows more closely and see if I could discern differences between them. I have had no success yet, and so continue, enjoying the opportunity to observe the crows who raise a brood of young on the farm much more closely.

Deep Diver, Collage and Watercolour. Photo by Cherie Westmoreland

Deep Diver, Collage and Watercolour.
Photo by Cherie Westmoreland

I think I remember the first time I woke at night to hear the loons singing. As I recall, I wasn’t scared at all. In fact, something deep within me thrilled to that call. It felt ancient, and oddly, it felt familiar.  Had I seen a loon before I heard the loon’s song? Probably, but in my memory, sound came first. From an early age, I felt a deep bond with loons, as so many of us do. A huge childhood thrill for me was taking all my friends to the Museum in Ottawa to watch the NFB film The Loon’s Necklace for my 10th birthday.

When I was  a teenager, working in Northern Ontario, I got to know loons even better. As a Junior Ranger at McConnell Lake near North Bay where there were 24 nesting pairs of loons, I got in big trouble one day for leaving our morning calisthenics to watch the loons dance on the lake. There was one loon I felt a special bond with – when I called, that loon would swim very close. Loons figured prominently in the art I created at that time. I never forgot the loon I saw swim under the canoe. I wondered if I could somehow express how I felt about seeing that loon under the water. I recently pulled out a stack of art created when I was a teen, and note the similarities between this watercolour (in browns below) and what I created decades later using collage and watercolour (Deep Diver). How I see it now : that piece has been inside me for a long time and was waiting for the right time to come out!

Study of loon diving done when I was 17...note similarity with "Deep Diver"

Study of loon diving done when I was 17…note similarity with “Deep Diver”

Deep Diver” is the first in a series entitled “Creatures I swim with”. When at Christie Lake, my favourite thing is to rise early, make a cup of coffee and head down to the beach for my morning swim. I sit quietly sipping coffee, taking in the feel of the day. The small bay I swim in is populated by loons, grebes, mergansers, turtles, otters, muskrat, the occasional water snake, turkey vultures and osprey, dragonflies, minnows…. the list could go on and on. I feel grateful to share the water with these creatures and to learn something about their daily routes and habits. So far, I have completed 3 pieces (Loon, Turtle and WaterSnake) in something like 4 years… a slow process indeed. It seems fitting that the loon is the first of these creatures. Loons are not the greatest fliers…in fact, sometimes they get marooned on lakes in the fall because they need a long runway and the ice has hemmed them in. But their diving and swimming is incredible…a kind of flight in a dreamy underwater world of deep greens and blues, of mystery. Like the loons, I love to dive deep in the waters.

“Taking Flight” 1

"Bluebirds" - Book Cover

“Bluebirds” – Book Cover

This past winter I spent a happy week creating rice paper birds. When I recently visited my neighbours, Wendy and Keith, I noticed that the large piece of art I gave them 20 some years ago was full of the same kind of birds. At that time, I had young children so my medium of choice was wax crayons.  I believe that an enthusiastic Alice added some of her own scribbles on the bottom. I began to think back and realize that variations of these same birds have cropped up in my art work for a long time. Even my children’s book, Madame de Toucainville’s Magnificent Hat, features variants of these same birds.

When the idea of holding an art show in the beautiful Qu’Appelle Valley Centre of the Arts came to me, I thought it would be great fun to explore birds in my art and my life. Then I realized that as well as birds, I am really interested in all kinds of flying things. Poached Egg Woman flies, after all. “Free Range Chicken” flies in my imagination. I have been creating fairies from collage materials and rice paper. We have a few dragons around the house. All of them can fly. (Just to clarify that – one is paper machier and the other is watercolour!) Our living room is full of intricately built bird’s nests, tiny eggs, and feathers. I am proud to say that I come from a long line of birdwatchers, and while my birds do not pretend to be realistic, they are no doubt inspired by many road trips with Peterson’s Field Guides and binoculars in tow.

This art show  called “Taking Flight” is dedicated to my mum and dad (Sylvia and Joe Bland) and to my in-laws (Hugh and Wanda Stueck). While they lived, I enjoyed many bird adventures with all of them. It is fitting, I think, that it will be held on Mother’s Day Weekend. Even better, the tea will be served in mum and gramma’s china cups. Hey, it’s going to be a party! (and an art show).

In the blogs leading up to my art show, I hope to explore different aspects of birds and flight in my art and in my life. I hope you will join me.