After an initial rejection, a Meaford artist persevered to find her own voice and style, and now is reaping the rewards.
This week, the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts announced the 2022 winner of the Murray Clerkson Art Award, Kelsey Lowes. Lowes will receive a $1,000 prize to help establish her art career.
Lowes first applied for the award two years ago, and was disappointed when she wasn’t selected. Not one to give up, she used the setback to fuel her drive to improve and apply again.
“To be honest, I was pretty upset about it. I heard some really encouraging words from (a friend). She told me not to worry, because I had joined a group of a great number of artists who have been rejected,” said Lowes. “They continued to do their work and they became great artists because of their rejection.”
“It’s so true. You have to be rejected in order to learn more about yourself,” she said.
Lowes is an abstract painter who first picked up a brush about six years ago when she was on maternity leave after the birth of her son.
In the time since, Lowes has refined her style.
“I feel that now, I’ve developed a technique and style that not a lot of artists do,” said Lowes, noting she paints solely using a pallet knife, and is completely self-taught.
“Through that, there’s been a lot of wanting to give up. There’s been a lot of pushing myself to continue and ask questions,” she said. “It took two years to really feel ready to put an application together on my own. It was from my heart.”
Now a mom of two, Lowes drew inspiration for the five pieces she submitted for the award from her own struggle with post-partum depression after the birth of her son.
“I find my life can get very chaotic,” said Lowes. “When I paint, it’s very therapeutic for me. Being able to find a balance through painting really helped me to get through all that stuff.”
“A lot of abstract (painting) is in the eye of the person who is viewing it. It seems chaotic when you get close to it but when you step back, it looks cohesive. It creates a balance and a sense of calm,” she said.
The Murray Clerkson Art Award was created in 2010 through the Murray Clerkson estate and continues through a donation from the Conning family, owners of Clerkson’s Home Store in Collingwood. According to the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts, Clerkson’s wish was that the award would recognize an evolving or emerging artist, not yet professionally established, but who has reached a stage where they now possess a body of work that indicates strength, purpose and commitment.
Lowes says she’s learned so much about the artistic process and herself over time. Long-term, she hopes one day to get to a point where she can participate in the Toronto Artist Project.
“That’s probably my biggest goal. My thoughts are obsessed with it. I know I’m not ready yet. One day, I will be,” she said. “Receiving this award makes me feel a little bit more confident knowing I’m going along the right route.”