Alyse Nicholson is a visual artist.
She is also a natural storyteller.
And she is able to draw on both of these skills in Six Feet of Winter, an exhibition currently underway at the Cornwall Library Art Gallery.
“I like telling stories through my pictures,” says the Cornwall resident, pointing to the 12 drawings that line the walls of the creative space.
The pen-and-ink and watercolour series is the bittersweet tale of two friends.
“It’s inspired by nature and stories with natural endings,” says Nicholson, who is 20.
The first drawing, Lonely At First, shows a little girl sitting outdoors by herself.
“She symbolizes winter,” explains Nicholson.
The next, Misplaced, depicts the child looking up at a bear gazing down at her, in her solitude. In the pieces that follow, she comes to life as the two become pals and set out on a journey together.
“The little girl symbolizes winter. The bear depicts guider and protector,” she says.
During the trek, the bear guides the little girl on a path up to the mountain peak.
At one point in their journey, flora and fauna begin to emerge from the ground.
“Again it’s symbolism. Irises and the bunnies foreshadow the coming of spring, when winter is finally gone,” says Nicholson.
As the friends continue to walk, it starts to snow.
“You begin to see evidence of winter everywhere. Then, suddenly the little girl has gone. It’s kind of like she has disappeared into the winter landscape,” says Nicholson, pointing to her last drawing, Engulfing Mortal Tracks with Snow, which shows nothing but a snowy winter scene.
In viewing the show, visitors have different options. For example, they can explore the drawings on a representational or symbolic level or both.
“People can take away whatever they want from (the exhibition). It’s a story I wanted to tell, and you can take it however you like,” says Nicholson who is following her own path as an artist.
It started in childhood.
“I was always drawing. My mother always had lots of craft supplies for making things, so I used whatever she had.
“I used to sit down and draw characters from television shows as well as cartoon characters. I’d make little booklets of stories when I was little,” she says.
When Nicholson’s talent was noticed, she was encouraged to take art classes.
Then while attending Bluefield High School, she studied art with Gwenneth Branch-Rice as well as Glen Strickey.
After high school graduation, she completed the fundamental arts program at Holland College.
Recently, Nicholson has been accepted into Sheridan College’s visual arts program, which starts in September.
“I want to study illustration. I love to express myself through art. It doesn’t make any sense to do anything but (that),” says Nicholson.
At the gallery, exhibition co-ordinator Ruth Cassidy is thrilled with Nicholson’s talent.
“When I saw Alyse’s work, I thought it was absolutely charming. I liked the fact that she did a sequential combining the visual with the words.
It’s obvious that she loves visual art,” she says.
Nicholson agrees, adding that her first solo show has been a “wonderful” experience.
“It’s been fun — going through the process of setting a goal and facing the challenge. It’s also helping me prepare for school. It’s like, ‘I’m working on my portfolio, what else can I add to it?’” she says.
AT A GLANCE
Up close and personal with Alyse Nicholson:
Favourite food: “It depends on my cravings. Some times I like food with garlic in it. Other times I want comfort food. Still other times I like tomatoes or salad, so it’s very much in the moment.”
Favourite colours: Red, blue.
Last book read: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.
Favourite movie: Batman Movie (1966) with Adam West.
Five things to take on an art fieldtrip: Sketch book, mechanical pencil, Faber-Castell pen, lip balm, cash/debit card.
Getting in touch:
Follow Nicholson’s journey on her blogs: http://awolfswill.tumblr.com and http://alysenicholson.blogspot.ca.