Some families have art in the blood, and Ashcroft artist Laura Hedges comes from one such family.
“My mother painted, and so did my aunts, and my grandmother and grandfather,” says Hedges, who has been painting for more than 20 years. “My mother would be set up in the living-room, painting commissions.
“They were very much in the Bob Ross style, and she’d have a Bob Ross show on the television.”
Hedges says she is self-taught, and has never had any formal training. “I learned from my mom. Any rules of painting I know, I learned from her.”
Painting was not a full-time career for her mother, who did it as a part-time pastime. Hedges says that while she also does commissions, and sells her paintings at the Ashcroft Art Show, she likes to do her own thing, and takes as a subject anything that strikes her fancy. “I’ll do a landscape one day, and animals the next.” She likes to use her own photos when it comes to subjects, and finds that she is a better painter if she works on things that speak to her.
“I need something to connect with. You can see, if you look at a painting, whether it’s just a pretty scene or whether it connected with the artist.”
She works in acrylics, which she says is a very forgiving medium as opposed to watercolours or oils. “With watercolours you really have to have the technical details down and do it first time. With acrylic you can wipe it off and try again. And I’m a real hands-on painter. I like to have my hands on the canvas.”
In 2017 Hedges was one of the Art Club artists who worked on the mural celebrating the club’s 50th anniversary that is on the south side of the Rolgear building on Railway Avenue in Ashcroft. “The club was looking for artists who had time to dedicate to the mural, and I did.” She’s trying to make more time for her painting, and with three young children in school finds that she has to commit to find that time.
This year will mark her fourth appearance at the annual Art Show, with five paintings on display. In the past her works have been a hit with viewers: in 2016 and 2017 her paintings “Circle W Hi Hium” and “Secrets Lake” respectively were named as runners-up in the People’s Choice pick, and last year her painting “Barnes Lake” was the top pick; only fitting, since Hedges and her family live on Barnes Lake Road, and she can paint the views she sees outside her window.
Hedges says that she sees novice painters who attend one of the “paint night” evenings in the area who are terrified to pick up the brush because they’re worried they won’t get it right. “It can be hard, but people really enjoy it once they get over that fear. It scratches an itch that you don’t know you have.
“And painting is good for mental health and well-being if you give it a chance. It’s worth it when you get that feeling you’re looking for. It ends up making you feel happy, and it’s very, very rewarding when you do it and get the result that you want.”
The Ashcroft Art Show takes place from April 26 to 29 at St. Alban’s Church Hall in Ashcroft, and all are welcome. There is no charge for admission.