Whitby, Ontario-based visual artist, Jay McCarten, is drawn to nature as evident in his paintings of the Canadian landscape. McCarten’s work is exhibited regularly in North America and internationally.
MamaProud: What were your first attempts at being creative?
Jay McCarten: I am not sure I can recall that exact moment but I do remember the first time I became conscious of the creative act of making art. I was in kindergarten at the age of 4. I had met a friend and I can remember him drawing the image of a horse. I have no real memory of the finished piece but I do remember that he was consciously trying to create something powerful and real. That feeling has always stayed with me.
MP: With respect to being creative have you ever been mentored and/or do you mentor?
JM: My first response is to say no but I do remember my elder brother Rick McCarten, who was attending Ontario College of Art, take me to a number of art galleries in Toronto. This would have been in the late 60’s and I remember seeing and being impressed with a De Kooning exhibition.
My daughter, Colleen McCarten is presently attending Ontario College of Art and Design and we have worked together but I am not sure a father can be a mentor as I understand it.
MP: Your abstract works are animated with color and line. Is there a feeling that you were trying to characterize in these works?
JM: I work directly on the canvas without any preliminary drawings. These works start with an idea but I let the work lead me to its own conclusion. I see it as a journey. It is not always easy and sometimes I get lost only to find the final destination right before my eyes. There are often different thoughts buried under successive layers of imagery. Each one seems necessary to reach the conclusion. So if I put it into words, there is not one definitive answer but I would say it just feels right.
MP: How does your background affect your work (especially with regard to family or where you were raised)?
JM: My Mother was very creative. She worked as clothing designer before she was married. She always seemed to be making art/craft pieces or designing some project for our family home. My brother Rick as I mentioned was older and quite interested in art as well. Both he and my other brother Don also both played the guitar. My father, though not artistic, encouraged us with books on art history as well as magazines on contemporary art. Oshawa the city I spent most of my youth in has the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in it. Their permanent collection is based on the art group The Painters Eleven. These were the first contemporary artists in Ontario whom embraced abstraction. I presently live in a house across from the studio where they used to meet.
MP: Do you currently have any pieces featured?
JM: I just finished an Artist in Residence program in 2011 at The Agnes Jamieson Gallery, followed by a solo exhibition. I am presently working on an exhibition for The Lindsay Gallery to open in the summer of 2012.
MP: The work in your winter series have a light and airy feel to them. Makes me want to get out into nature. Did you work on these from actual sites?
JM: No all my present work is done in the studio. I do love nature and spend as much time as possible out in it. My studio/house is situated in a small cottage in the woods on the shore of Lake Ontario. I work from memory and my subconscious to create. I don’t see myself as a camera.
MP: What materials do you employ in your art?
JM: All of these present works are acrylic on canvas. I work directly on canvas which I have usually applied a coloured wash to. I then start to draw with plain white chalk to mark out my preliminary concept. I will often use photography when I am in nature. This is not as a direct source to work from but when I take a picture the physical act seems to focus my senses.