The Chestermere Public Library’s November Artist of the Month and Member of the Chestermere Fine Art Guild Teresa Baird has been surrounded by art all of her life.
“I have a lot of painters in my family, my father painted, my aunt painted, and my nieces’ paint,” Baird said.
“I’ve painted on and off for a long time, but when I retired three years ago, I joined the Chestermere Fine Art Guild, and I’ve been painting more seriously and routinely since,” she said.
When Baird retired three years ago, she had additional time to focus on painting, gardening, playing the fiddle, and recently creating sculptures.
“I believe that you have to produce something to live a fulfilled life,” Baird said.
In November, Baird will be showcasing 27 of her favourite paintings in the Chestermere Public Library, and City Hall in December.
“I’m thrilled to be able to show my work at the Chestermere library in November. I think the library does a great job showing local artists,” Baird said.
“These are my better ones, there, not the ones that you hide in the basement. I was thrilled, just thrilled, and very happy,” she added.
Although Baird doesn’t have a specific theme to her paintings, she enjoys painting joy.
“I want to paint joy, life should be wonderful and joyous, life should be good,” Baird said.
Baird regularly uses acrylic paints because it gives her the opportunity to fix any imperfections easily.
“Watercolour is very, very different from acrylic, and watercolour you have to be more skilled. You have to know where you want the white parts to be, whereas, in acrylic, you can cover up anything,” Baird said.
She added, “I could take an acrylic painting, and cover it up completely and redo it, you can’t do that with watercolour, you have to have a plan.”
When Baird first begins a piece, she finds a photo that she wants to recreate, finds the best composition and decides what topic she wants to focus on in the painting.
If Baird is painting an animal of a person, she will sketch it out, sometimes multiple times, until it’s just right. However, if Baird is painting a landscape, she will only free hand.
“When I start, I work on one piece, but sometimes I have to put it aside and then start another, and then I’ll come back. It’s the fine-tuning that I come back to,” Baird said.
Often when Baird is working on a painting, she will use a method she learned from Doug Swinton after a workshop at the Chestermere Fine Art Guild, where she steps away from the painting to examine it.
“When I’m up working on the painting, I’m the painter, but when I step away, I’m the supervisor,” Baird said that she learned from Swinton.
“That is a very nice method, and it works nicely,” she added.
Although Baird has really immersed herself into painting in the last three years, painting portraits is a constant challenge.
“Painting people is a challenge, getting them to look like a photograph is definitely a challenge, and getting them to look human is a challenge,” Baird said.
“It comes from where everybody is used to seeing people all the time, so if the proportion isn’t right, if the body positioning isn’t right, or if the shoulder is up in the air and the other one is down that’s very noticeable because we’re all used to seeing people and we’re all used to their forms,” she said.
While painting portraits can be challenging, the Chestermere Fine Art Guild members are continually encouraging and helping other members of the group.
She added, “Our group is really good at praise. Praise isn’t dished out for nothing, but praise is offered when earned. It’s graciously offered when deserved.”
Despite focusing most of her time on painting, Baird has recently found a passion for creating sculptures.
Baird’s first sculpture was a dinosaur that she worked on from October to February of last year that she displayed in the Chestermere Country Fair Parade.
“It was really cool being in the parade, and hearing people go ‘Oh look at the dinosaur,’ I enjoyed that,” Baird said.
Baird first had the idea to create a dinosaur sculpture from her niece, who wanted to put a sculpture in her yard.
“It’s unsuitable for her original idea, but she gave me the idea,” Baird said.
When first creating the dinosaur, Baird accidentally made the feet too large, and instead of making a 20-foot tall dinosaur, she decided to downsize the project.
“His head would have been taller, but the weight of the materials that I used dragged him down about a foot,” Baird said.
The dinosaur was made out of wire mesh, and it was coated in blue jean material that was dipped in white glue and finally covered with a thick cloth material.
Baird is excited to continue to pursue sculpture making while working on fine art.
“I really like how active this community is,” Baird added. “Our art show is in early May, and we really appreciate people coming out, we put a lot of effort into that.”