Paige Mortensen Bio


Borden Bridge ©Paige Mortensen 24 x 36″ Watercolour Batik

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada is home and, although the weather is a constant topic of conversation and not always to our liking, this is a great place to live. For me the most important reason is that our family is nearby. There is a vibrant art community and we are close to our cabin in northern Saskatchewan where we can enjoy the quiet of nature.

What is an artist? I believe that the need to create has always been a part of who I am. That need has been expressed in many ways over the years. Following my mom’s lead I tried many things over the years: crocheting, tatting, cross stitch, sewing, leather craft, cake decorating, calligraphy, jewellery making, scrapbooking, paper making, folk art painting, watercolour, photography, cooking. All of these have become part of my artist-self. The opportunity to focus on and truly express myself through art has come in the last five years.

Several years ago I took many folk art painting classes. Although everyone in these classes were working on the same painting, the process taught me an incredible amount about technique as well as composition, value and colour. I credit these instructors with empowering me to be confident enough to enrol in the University of Saskatchewan’s Certificate in Art and Design (USCAD).

The USCAD instructors nurtured my inner creative self and I was encouraged to experiment with a wide range of media, techniques and styles. Every class brought new discoveries and I am thankful for the support of the instructors and students I shared classes with. I completed the program in August of 2014.

One of the assignments in a USCAD class I took was to create a batik. While batik is traditionally a process of using wax as a resist while dying fabric I wanted to explore the concept and see how I could use it in my own way. I have used the same sort of process on eggs at Easter time and wondered how else could it be used?

At the time my focus was on watercolour painting. However, I had also been exploring encaustic (hot wax) painting. This technique dates backs to the ancient Greeks. Perhaps the most famous encaustic works are the Fayum portraits painted in the 1st through 3rd centuries A.D. by Greek painters in Egypt.   Today’s waxes come in vibrant colours that are fun to work with.

As I was researching I came across tutorial on watercolour batik by Kathie George. I was enjoying watercolours and had been experimenting with encaustic so this seemed like something I should try.

My experience with folk art painting had taught me how to control my paints. This was great for realistic paintings but I wanted to loosen up and put more of my own expression into my art. This watercolour batik process was perfect for that. The Ginwashi paper I use is very thin and therefore the paint spreads instantly so I needed to let go of control. Also wax is only liquid while heated and has its own challenges in application. All of this gives the finished pieces an abstract quality with amazing texture!

In short, the process involves using wax as a resist so working from lightest to darkest colour adding layers of wax and watercolour until the piece is finished. I worked through her process once and I was hooked! I have now found my own way of working and yet there are many more things I want to try!

Back to the layering process. Because the Ginwashi paper is like tissue paper, the paint spreads rapidly and colours mingle together on the paper. Once a layer is dry, I use sponges and other tools to put on the wax, preserving the areas I want to stay that colour. Watercolours are transparent, so the colour of each new layer is affected by the colour of previous layers. Each layer also gets darker so planning for colours and values is important. I usually do about seven layers on each piece. The most exciting part for me is watching the piece emerge when I iron off the wax at the end of the process!

I am fortunate to have had two amazing trips to Europe. The first was in 2008 when we toured through England, Wales, Scotland and France with our children and their partners. In 2014 my husband and I were in Italy and France. The history and architecture are amazing. There are lots of famous places, and they were great to see, but what really fascinated me were the doors.

I’m sure to the people that live there these are just ordinary doors. For me however they are the symbol of their history and make me what to know more. Who built this? How did they do it? Who lived here originally (now)? What were/are their lives like? It is the everyday things that fascinate me and these doors represent the everyday lives of people I do not know and yet feel connected to.

The architectural qualities of the old stone, brick and wood is an ideal subject for the watercolour batik process that I love to use. I have entitled this current series “Stories Inside”. Every piece that I create leaves me wondering what stories were behind that door.

More about me:

My earliest years were spent in small town Saskatchewan but Saskatoon has been home for most of my life. Even growing up in the city I still feel a connection to the farm, originally through my grandparents then my husband’s family and now our daughter and her family are on an acreage with sheep, chickens and a llama. Where my food comes from is important to me and I appreciate those who grow it for us to enjoy.

All my life I have been surrounded by creativity. My mom was and is a craft person, experimenting with and sharing as many things as possible. My dad was a math person and yet taught us about quiet reflection and encouraged us to pursue our unique passions.

After high school I earned a Medical Laboratory Technologist certificate and worked for a few years until I became a Mom. Being a Mom doesn’t earn one any recognized designation but it will always be the most important part of my life. Parenthood is all consuming, challenging, rewarding and creativity is required at all times. Of course, life requires income so I eventurally I did some accounting work and that led me to a Certificate in Computing and Information Systems and a role in technical support. For the ten years prior to leaving the paid work force in 2012, I was the Business Manager at Family Service Saskatoon.

After nearly 29 years in our house we moved across Saskatoon in 2013. One of the bonuses of moving was the ready made studio area in the home. It is wonderful to have a sink that is used only for art, cupboards and tables to hold supplies and an area that promotes creativity. We don’t use the fireplace so it has become a display area where works hang as I critique them and get comfortable with the finished results.

As I mentioned, family is most important to me. My husband, Randy is a software developer, creative in his own way. Our son who has a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering has also chosen to follow his creative side with his photography company, Electric Umbrella. Our daughter and son-in-law have 2 small children and are adapting to acreage living. She is immersed in the creativity of motherhood while finding time for her own outdoor education interests.

Randy and I enjoy every minute spent with our grandchildren, time at our cabin, live theatre, travel and keeping active. I also enjoy cooking, reading and yoga.

I am a member of: the Saskatchewan Craft Council, CARFAC, the Mendel Art Gallery, Watermarks Art Group and the Art & Soul artist group.