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Hidden Talent produces award winner

Wax and alcohol mix well for bookstore art show

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 06:00 am

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  • PRIZE PAINTING – Bernadette Neumann shows off the orchid painting that earned her a prize in the 2013 Torrit Grey Competition.
    PRIZE PAINTING – Bernadette Neumann shows off the orchid painting that earned her a prize in the 2013 Torrit Grey Competition.
    CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette
  • SMALL SAMPLE – A sample of Barbara Mitchell's encaustic and alcohol ink works at the Bookstore on Perron
    SMALL SAMPLE – A sample of Barbara Mitchell's encaustic and alcohol ink works at the Bookstore on Perron

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The painting might not look the same anymore but it’s still a champion. Bernadette Neumann is still quite pleased that her image of an orchid took the honourable mention prize of the 2013 Torrit Grey Competition put on by the Gamblin Artists Colors company of Portland, Ore.

“This is the first international contest that I’ve ever won,” she exclaimed, adding that she has entered the contest for three years in a row now.

This marks the second time a student from Hidden Talent Fine Art School has brought home the same prize. Five years ago, Memory Roth brought home the honourable mention trophy for her depiction of boats at dock.

The Gamblin company offers the annual competition with a bit of environmentalist recycling behind it. It takes all the pigment dust from its other paint products and mixes them into a new colour, and names the result after Torrit, the company that provides the air filtration units. The colour is never the same, changing from tube to tube even within the same year and batch.

Complimentary tubes are provided to painters around the world under the proviso that artists only use white, black and Torrit grey for the contest.

There are two honourable mention winners who each receive $350 in Gamblin product. The first prize winner gets $500 in product. All winners and entrants get their work displayed on an online gallery at

The official list of winners gets announced by the company sometime in mid-March.

Neumann added that she makes the unique colour a part of her regular practice.

“Every time I paint a picture, if it’s a black-and-white, then I do a Torrit grey picture of it so that I can enter it.”

She is also the winner of multiple ribbons from the annual Edmonton Orchid Show. This year the show takes place at the Enjoy Centre from Friday, April 4 to Sunday, April 6.

Mixed media

Local mixed media artist Barbara Mitchell has a very busy show of many small works consisting of either of two varieties: coloured encaustic beeswax (with damar resin) or alcohol ink.

For the latter, she enjoys using synthetic yupo paper, tiles or glass globes. It’s a tricky process that involves patience, as the artist must wait for the alcohol to dry in order to leave the stain behind on the surface that resists it.

Mitchell totally loves it.

“It’s a very freeing medium to work with. It’s absolutely vibrantly luscious! That’s all I know how I feel when I do it. Like the encaustics, it flows very easy.”

She delights in the “free flow” of the creative process and loves to bring out the texture, movement and energy of some absorbing fluid and organic shapes in her images. Her drawings bring us back to the wonder of the natural world.

The sensitive designs for her encaustics are created with an iron, a tool that helps her to achieve the right result.

“I really like it. It gives a very flowy effect, very ethereal. That’s probably what draws me the most about the encaustics that I do.”

The show runs until March 31. The Bookstore on Perron is located at 7 Perron St.

For more information on the artist, visit

Art show

Laura Watmough of Hidden Talent Art School is launching a new event: a gallery exhibition of works from several of her students, many of which have never been on sale to the public previously.

“We’ve always had people who could show their art and not have it for sale. This is our first official gallery exhibition where all of the pieces are for sale,” she explained.

Steppin' Out features more than 50 works by nine emerging artists including Lucille Friend, Sylvie Fergusson, Sandy Topilko, Joanne Lewis, Elizabeth Dupuis, Wendy Pfeifer, and Joan Stang, plus familiar names like Pearl Der and Jeannette Sommers.

Attendees can expect some lively images.

“It’s quite springy. Lots of colourful art,” she said.

The works are all currently on display for a preview. Please check regular business hours.

The sale runs from March 16 to 29 with an opening reception on Sunday, March 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. Artists will be in attendance.

Hidden Talent Art School is located at #107, 25 Chisholm Ave. in the Campbell Business Centre. Call 780-419-2055 or visit for more information.


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