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Alliston artist spearheads new series highlighting women’s daily lives

June 4, 2020   ·   0 Comments

An Alliston based visual artist is currently working on a new series of paintings, recognizing the many tasks, routines, and patterns women experience every day.

Michelle Eissler (Hollmann), who is also a South Simcoe Arts Council (SSAC) member, having served on the board for several years, is trying to shine a light on the often-overlooked or unnoticed work women tend to undertake.

“‘The Women’ series is based on… these small daily tasks, painted in a succession of small pieces [and] shapes broken down, yet connecting to the next to make up the whole,” she said.

“The images and forms are embedded in their environment and strung together by a series of lines and shape, much like we are connected to our surroundings and affected by all that envelops our routine lives.

“Like a quilt, these swatches and pieces create a suggestion of the image, a visual memory of the actions and choices made in one of the many moments during the day’s tasks.”

In the new series, Eissler said the viewer will be able to see an image in her paintings, but it will be less “glaringly apparent” than her much earlier works.

“It’s a little bit embedded in its environment and it’s not going to reveal itself as easily as most other paintings,” she said.

The new series will tend to have more of a “centric driven focal point” than the work she’s produced in the last several years, Eissler explained.

“With my previous work, the ideas and composition were very often based on a found image in my preparatory linework,” she said. “Whereas, The Women series will begin with the idea, and the composition will be built upon that image.”

“Either way, all of my drawing is done directly on the canvas and I don’t work from sketches and rarely from outside images.

Much of Eissler’s former pieces are very layered and blended so it can be hard to recognize some of the images within the painting.

“Interestingly, people were seeing things that I didn’t even intend to paint in some of my other work. However, I think with this new series they’re going to focus a little bit more on the image, but there’s definitely going to be some ambiguity there,” she said.

“You may not be able to immediately discern what exactly you’re looking at.”

Eissler has exclusively used oil paint for a number of years and focuses on more stylized, semi-abstract work.

“I love the traditional qualities of oil paint… it has a richness of texture and colour, but it can be layered and used for so many styles of painting. I love that different artists will produce such different work using the same materials,” she said.

Eissler has a background doing freelance illustrations and creating pieces with water colour, acrylic, and ink. When studying her Bachelors of Art and Art History at the University of Toronto and Interpretive Illustration at Sheridan College in the late 80s and early 90s, she became well versed in a variety of styles.

“After graduating, I really focused on doing illustration because I felt I could make an easier living at it, and it was challenging and rewarding to work with clients to realize their vision,” Eissler explained.

Throughout her art career, she has been commissioned to paint a handful of murals, and create art for restaurants, newspapers, and magazines.

She worked for the Globe and Mail for a few years in the late 90s where she created artwork for the “Facts and Argument” page as well as the Canadian Gardening Magazine in 2000.

More recently, Eissler exhibited work at the 2019 TD Thor Wealth Management Juried Exhibition at the Quest Gallery in Midland last year.

She’s also showed her work at the Visual Arts Mississauga 39th Annual Juried Show of Fine Arts in 2017 and at the 26th Annual McMichael Autumn Art Sale in Kleinburg in 2016.

She’s won “Best in Show” at the Arts on Main Juried Show in Alliston in both 2014 and 2015 as well.

But in the last few years, a lot of Eissler’s attention has been focused on the SSAC where she volunteered her time.

She served as the Arts in Our Community Coordinator for a couple years, promoting SSAC visual artists at various businesses and venues such as libraries, coffee shops, and medical offices, around New Tecumseth.

“I loved working with other artists to showcase their talent and found a lot of benefit in networking and sharing ideas,” Eissler said.

She served as vice president on the SSAC Board until January, where she helped promote the “Arts for All Mandate,” finding new ways to make southern Simcoe a central hub for artists and their community, while helping to promote their artisan shop “FortyOne.”

Eissler currently works at Curry’s Artist Materials in Barrie where she gets to directly assist fellow artists in a retail capacity.

“I really enjoy that aspect of helping other artists, sharing ideas and techniques and being a resource,” she explained.

Going forward, Eissler told The Times she’s excited to display her work this year, but is unsure of when or where it can safely take place until COVID-19 comes under control.

“I’m really wondering what’s going to be happening with the galleries and having that in-person experience because so much has been delayed, although many have adapted for online fairly successfully,” she said.

“There’s a lot of artists struggling with working through COVID in general, just to find inspiration and to find motivation, but many of us are able to rely on each other and keep in contact through social media,” Eissler added.

“I’m curious to see how it’s all going to play out for the future, but confident that everything will work out in the end.”

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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