Frederick Winston is a Canadian painter, and his blog celebrates his own passion for the visual arts in Canada. By documenting great art, and detailing little known artists, he gives Canadians a beautifully painted perspective on their own cultural identity.
FREDERICKS ARTWORKS is a veritable volcano of historically responsible, easy-to-read content that’s firmly centered on the visual arts. It’s an online periodical that reviews paintings and the people who painted them, yesterday and today. It’s very frequently updated, and there’s even sidebar text informing readers of when to expect future posts! Frederick, like so many other personal bloggers, feels guilt and angst inside what he perceives is an overwhelming obligation to an invisible audience. He doesn’t want to let his readers down, but will he burn out if he keeps up this pace?
Out in front of the curtains, Fredericks Artworks has certainly become a very valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of Canadian art or insights into exhibiting art in this country. The blogspot is part history, part biography and a big part reflection that includes unique social commentary. Reading this material everyday is very healthy for painters, and anyone passionate about supporting the arts and promoting Canadian cultural values.
A look back through the archives reveals many thought provoking glimpses into the nooks and crannies of making art as a business in Canada. Frederick praises small town art galleries, and reviews festivals and visits friends with whom he paints and describes the places at which they glimpse unusual landscapes and why they choose one particular venue over another. It’s truly fascinating stuff.
The artist biographies and Fred’s presentation of other artists’ works are both well researched and focused on the market. There is some borrowing of public information from sources such as the CBC, the NFB, Wikipedia and You Tube, but whenever possible the author attempts to personalize the text with special insights, unusual facts and personal anecdotes. Frederick likes to write about painters from the early 1800s, and the early nineteen hundreds; its truly remarkable is how well these historic biographies juxtapose his critiques and reviews of contemporary artists, including many fresh young faces still studying art in Toronto and Montreal.
Frederick has no agenda. For the first few years he wouldn’t even show his own paintings on his blog. And he doesn’t ever want to be appear political or even opinionated. If there’s even a hint of controversy he runs away – for example when his piece about Norval Morriseau spawned some spurious comments, he apologized and then deleted the whole post. Ha ha!
Some of Frederick’s best work includes critiques or studies of certain pictures, such as Robert Harris’s A Meeting of the School Trustees, June 1, 2010, and Prudence Heward’s ‘Sisters of Rural Quebec,’. Recently Frederick had creative exchanges with singer, songwriter Ken Tobias after doing a search on him in which he discovered that this musician is also an impressive painter. Frederick communicated with Ken and shared a personal story about how Ken’s song, Dream Two impacted his life. Later it gave the art blogger a lot of satisfaction to write a positive critique of Ken’s art,
Here’s a bit of what Frederick had to say about Ken’s painting, St Martin (above), This delightful landscape work by Ken Tobias, creates a sense of solitude. The picture covers such a vast panorama of sea and distant land that I cannot help but feel a sense of diminution. The recognition of one’s finiteness against the vastness of earth and sky creates for me a sense of awe at the beauty of the earth.”
Frederick’s journey into blogging came from traveling several routes on his path as a writer, and an artist.
Way back when he graduated university with a degree in English and for many years in one vocation or another he produced hard copy newsletters. One publication was an award winner, and so he was published in trade magazines before he became a painter, later in life. The evolution into blogging seemed natural, and his computer literacy and digital photography skills have also improved in accordance with the ardours of the new publishing medium.
Frederick writes, …The problem with writing articles and producing newsletters and blogs is that you pretty much work in a vacuum. After my first year of producing daily blog entries I went through a process of re-evaluation. Even though the blog is ticking along with a healthy readership, a very small percentage of people comment on my postings. So few that sometimes it seems that what I work to produce has little value. One weekend, I was sitting at my art display in a nearby village and someone walked up to me, and said “Hi Fredericks, I enjoy reading your blog.” I was stunned. I told him that I was thinking of putting it to bed and his response was, “No…don’t…I read it every day.”
Frederick has discovered readers in other artists, art schools, art galleries and among Canadian media and the communication industry in general.
When asked why people read his blog, Frederick Winston replies,
Because I paint, the blog reflects my love of the visual arts in Canada. My blog is unique because I give artists an opportunity of telling their story to Canadians, and the opportunity of sharing special events in their lives and presenting their works. Beneath it all, I strive to present, through art, the way Canadians see our country. Art tells the story of who we are and that story takes us into all parts of Canada, from the art of our Native brothers, into the forest and prairies and coasts of Canada and into our largest urban centers. It also takes us for a walk through time from the recordings of English military officers in watercolours, to the abstractionists of the 20th century, and we see it all through our rich diversity of the visual media.