Wendie Donabie

Janice Feist

Lynda Lynn

Pat Whittle

October 14 - November 11
Public Reception: Saturday, October 14, 1pm-4pm

What would you do with dried left over acrylic paint from an artist’s pallet? If you are Wendie Donabie, Janice Feist, Lynda Lynn and Pat Whittle, you make art.  

Over the years, these four friends have painted and shown their work together. After a number of conversations, the foursome decided it was time take up another challenge and have a group exhibition. “We concluded that we would like to work with acrylic skins,” remarks Janice. “Not having worked in this form of the medium, it certainly caught my attention and we agreed that’s what we would do.”  

An acrylic skin is made when any acrylic product is applied to a non-stick surface and left to dry. It’s then peeled off producing a piece of acrylic with no backing. This piece of acrylic or “skin” can be used as a collage item in a painting, or as an entire layer of a painting. “Skins are usually thrown away as a casualty of painting,” says Pat. “But, they can actually be a wonderful artistic medium.”  

The acrylic skins the artists made are more than just a material to work with. They also provided a metaphor for the exhibition’s concept that is an investigation into the vulnerability and resilience of skin. “Our work will look at how skin protects and how it can be damaged by abuse of many kinds,” says Wendie. “To this end, we’ll be showing skin in its many variations – humans as well as forms found in  nature such as the coverings on plants, animals and the earth itself with lichen and various soils.”  

Each artist has a different interpretation of the theme. For Pat, thick-skinned and thin-skinned resonate deeply with her. Janice feels that skins represent personal vulnerability and that of the animals living on this planet. Wendie has a vision of the earth’s fragile earth and ecosystem tormented by over-use and neglect, while Lynda has a great concern for the constant impact of outside influences on both people’s skin and the world we inhabit, by constantly depleting our natural resources. 

Preparing for a group exhibition is a challenge on many fronts for artists. The first was scheduling. “The toughest issue was being able to get the four of our together to plan and work,” states Lynda. Then it was figuring out how to make the acrylic skins. “Using skins means slowing down the process as it can take a number of days for layers of skins to dry,” explains Lynda. Storing the acrylic skins posed another dilemma. “I had sheets of paint balancing on furniture, on the freezer downstairs and on the bed upstairs,” Janice describes. “I couldn’t move and I worried what the heck was I going to do with all this dried paint?  

They decided to make collaborative works that provided the next challenge to overcome. Each artist was responsible for working on one quarter of a canvas. There were no rules, no theme and nor direction given, each person just picked up from where the previous artist left off. “The problem was we each found ourselves trying to figure out what the other artist was doing and where they were heading. In our individual studios, we swore, cursed and threw our hands up in the air in utter frustration,” admits Wendie who adds that the process was, at times, an incredible personal struggle. “Even though it was a challenge, I learned so much from the feedback sessions we held to discuss the work at its various stages as the canvases progressed from one artist to the next.”  

The group will be showing their work in an exhibition opening at Muskoka Arts& Crafts’ Chapel Gallery on Saturday, October 14. The title of the exhibition, 4 Skins came from their discussions about show’s intent. “It’s simply the four of us, working with skins hence 4 Skins. Yes, we laughed about the name at first then decided that it must be 4 Skins,” explains Janice.  

The show is being about being exposed, vulnerable and aware of what is going on around us, and bringing an understanding that all things in the world have a skin impacted and affected by daily living, Wendie, Janice, Lynda and Pat hope that viewers will think about what the word skin means to them.  Wendie sums up the group’s anticipation that visitors will be “touched by the vulnerability we each have shown in the work and that the show increases everyone’s sensitivity of our shared humanity and the natural world around us.”  

A public reception for Wendie, Janice, Lynda and Pat will be held on Saturday, October 14 from 1pm to 4pm at the Chapel Gallery. The exhibition continues at the Chapel Gallery until November 11.  

Janice, Wendie and Pat thank the Ontario Arts Council for their financial support of this exhibition.

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