Jean Morrow —theHumm Came Out to Morrow - theHumm October 2019
Jean Morrow —theHumm Came Out to Morrow - theHumm October 2019
By Sally Hansen
Art… and Soul
It was time to check out the artistic chops of another member of the amazing Almonte art scene. A relative newcomer to the community, Jean Morrow has opened her solo art gallery as part of her stunning Thoburn Mill condo overlooking the Mississippi River. Her art also brightens the walls and nicely complements Deborah Arnold’s supremely appropriate stone sculptures in the main corridor of this remarkable building. After several iterations of renovation since the historical landmark closed as a woollen mill in 1956, the Thoburn Mill condos are now home to more than twenty owners and shops.
Morrow’s exuberant acrylic paintings throb with joy — pleasure at being alive and doing what she loves best. Her abstracts have titles like Colour Me Energy and Inner Self. They radiate the sheer pleasure she experiences as a full-time artist — finally! On her website, her Artist Statement explains: “Painting is my passion in life. I have always needed to be creating in order to express myself, and found early on that painting fills this need. I live for that moment when the painting takes on a life of its own and flows through me onto the canvas. Often hours pass by unnoticed. When it’s working right it becomes like meditation. It is so satisfying to me to make something beautiful that didn’t exist before.”
Colour is her friend. In her abstracts she plays with it, experiments with it, uses it with gusto and spontaneity, but is always acutely conscious of the consequences. Many of her works are light and full of movement, achieved partially through her generous use of white space. To me, a few of her works suggest hints of Jackson Pollock’s, but hers are much more accessible, smaller, affordable, and — you guessed it — happier. This is no tortured artist expressing existential angst; on the contrary, this is an artist who uses her art to celebrate how wonderful life is.
Her online gallery at morrowgallery.com is divided into five collections: Water, Trees, Abstract, Human Form, and Sun Rise/Sun Set. Morrow takes a very modern approach in her Human Form collection, playing with unfamiliar colours on familiar subjects. Several works are on display at 8008 Lingerie, a new addition to the shops in Almonte’s antidote to shopping malls — the Heritage Court. Morrow’s collection — modern, sexy, and “bejazzled” — is a major departure from her previous works.
A confirmed autodidact, Jean embraces the freedom and excitement that she derives from tapping into the vast resources available through the internet as her primary method of discovering and mastering new artistic media and techniques. Like many artists she remembers always loving to draw. About thirty years ago a good friend gave her a set of paints and asked her to make him a painting of his hero — Bobby Orr. She never looked back. She absolutely loved creating art, starting in oils and painting landscapes, always learning. When she discovered acrylics her reaction was: “That’s it for me!” and it remains so.
So much so that she recently created a line of jewellery using the same acrylic paint techniques she use on her canvasses. Jean strongly believes that original art should be affordable and accessible. Her jewellery fits the bill — wearable, unique art. Another impetus for developing her line of jewellery was that the couple spends much of each year in London, England, and on Saint Simons Island, one of the Barrier Islands off the coast of Georgia. She was looking for an artistic outlet that did not require a studio. Again self-taught, she figured out how to create miniature fragments of her favourite paintings. She sells her pieces at her gallery and also on Etsy.
Happiness Came To Morrow
No. That is not an anachronism. Happiness came to Morrow when Morrow came to Almonte. Ten years ago, she and her husband George Shafer took early retirement together from long, successful and satisfying careers at Telesat, relinquished their condo in downtown Ottawa, and moved to Almonte. Longtime Almontonians love it when new residents react like Jean: “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life!” Having a gorgeous condo with an attached studio that gives her more space “to work with messier media” is a major part of that happiness. The couple wisely enlisted the services of Peter Mansfield to guide their conversion of a former wood-working shop into a strikingly modern condo. (Mansfield was the primary architect for the multi-use redevelopment of the landmark former factory, one of five Almonte buildings that just won a national heritage award – see page 25 for more details.)
Smiles Are Powerful
Morrow has been an autodidact throughout her life. She grew up in the southeast Ottawa suburb of Gloucester and entered the Public Service from high school. Being a quick learner, she became a legislative assistant, and then applied for an entry-level job at Telesat. In her words, “It was a great company to work for — if you worked hard.” She fortuitously met her husband there, whom she credits with helping her overcome painful shyness as a self-described introvert. That characterization was so at odds with the demeanor of the person I was interviewing that I called her on it. She convinced me it is true, but she has worked hard at forcing herself to overcome it. Her trademark is her smile — take a look at her Trading Card. She claims that meeting her husband, and then “meeting a bunch of intelligent people and wanting to be more like them” motivated her to learn how to — and even enjoy being — more social. Science confirms that smiling can improve your self-confidence. It looks like it’s working for Jean.
Since her arrival in town, Morrow has participated in a number of arts events in Almonte and Carleton Place. Her works are on display at the Thoburn Mill, at Stairway Gallery at 65 Mill Street, and at 8008 Lingerie. On Thanksgiving weekend she is participating again in the annual juried Crown and Pumpkin Studio Tour at her Morrow Gallery at Unit 110 in the Thoburn Mill at 83 Little Bridge Street. In addition to a collection of lively, colourful and uplifting acrylic paintings, complemented by unique and affordable jewellery, you are guaranteed a warm welcome and an irresistible smile!
Links for this article at Jean Morrow,
By Sally Hansen
Art… and Soul
It was time to check out the artistic chops of another member of the amazing Almonte art scene. A relative newcomer to the community, Jean Morrow has opened her solo art gallery as part of her stunning Thoburn Mill condo overlooking the Mississippi River. Her art also brightens the walls and nicely complements Deborah Arnold’s supremely appropriate stone sculptures in the main corridor of this remarkable building. After several iterations of renovation since the historical......
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