Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Finding Light in the Dark

 As we move deeper into autumn, we lose a couple minutes of daylight each day. There seems, often, to be feelings of dread associated with "shorter days" and the impending daylight savings which will soon see us heading home from work in the dark. But what if instead of seeing Autumn as a season marked by a loss of daylight, we changed our perspective to see it as a time of gaining darkness? What if instead of turning all the lights on, we turned them all off, and lit a tiny candle, or made a fire in the fireplace, and actually tried to embrace the darkness instead of fighting it?

Isobel Hamilton, "Light in the Dark", 11" x 14", Acrylic on Panel
 In an old newspaper article titled "Why I adore the Night" from back in 2009, Jeanette Winterson writes,  
"We now live in a fast-moving, fully lit world where night still happens, but is optional to experience. Our 24/7 culture has phased out the night. In fact we treat the night like failed daylight. Yet slowness and silence – the different rhythm of the night – are a necessary correction to the day."

Isobel Hamilton, "Autumn Glow", 12" x 9", Acrylic on Panel

Immersing ourselves in darker spaces shifts the way we think and feel. The intimacy allowed through darkness can make it easier to slip into a a place of introspection, of dreaming, or slowing down to reconnect with our loves ones.

Isobel Hamilton, "Night Light" , 11" x 14", Acrylic on Panel

We currently have a new body of work at the gallery by artist Isobel Hamilton that truly seems to glow from within. Isobel is a self-taught contemporary realist painter, originally from Scotland. She emigrated to Nova Scotia in 2013, and currently lives and works in Centreville, NS. Her current body of work is inspired by inspired by 'chiaroscuro' - the contrast between light and dark.

Isobel's exploration of chiaroscuro is captivating, and almost warming to look at. Her work reminds us of the beauty that can be found in darkness, and that intimacy can be created by illuminating tiny corners of dark spaces.

Isobel Hamilton, "Chinese Lanterns", 12" x 9" Acrylic on Panel

Heading into a darker, colder season can be really difficult for some people. Instead of resisting it and bracing ourselves against it,  let's move more slowly, and look for the little moments that are special and unique to this season. Notice the changes in light, and the thin streams of golden sunbeams that mark the nearing of night.

Winterson suggests in her article,
"Prepare dinner ahead, and plan a walk so that you will be heading for home in that lovely liminal time where light and dark are hinged against each other. City or country, that sundown hour is strange and exhilarating, as ordinary spatial relations are altered: trees rear up in their own shadows, buildings bulk out, pavements stretch forward, the red wrapper of brake lights turns a road into a lava flow. 
Inside, the lights are going on. Outside, it's getting dark. You, as a dark shape in a darkening world, want to hold that intimacy, just for one night. Go home. Leave the lights off."

Isobel Hamilton, Oil Lamp, 8"x8", Acrylic on Board

Leave the lights off, but maybe light a single candle so you won't lose your way ;)

Stop by to see these beautiful works in person; they will surely add a bit of light to your day.

*You can read Jeanette Winterson's full article, "Why I Adore the Night" here

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Magical Night of Art!

Well, another Nocturne is in the books, and what a success it was! This past Saturday we kept our doors open until midnight while people of all ages passed through the gallery in a constant stream. Although by the end we were tired, we couldn't have asked for a better night, and this definitely couldn't have been possible by ourselves. Adriana and I were so fortunate to have had the help of a number or kind hearted and enthusiastic individuals who volunteered their time to help ensure everything went smoothly. Their tireless efforts are so appreciated and mean a lot to us!

Isobel Hamilton, Autumn Glow, 12" x 9"
Acrylic on Panel

Nocturne is such a great opportunity to get out to explore the city, connect with other people, and be exposed to many different forms of art. For us here at the gallery, it was a rewarding experience to see such a vast range of people pass through and actually engage with the art. At one point, a young girl, likely no older than thirteen came up to me at the desk and being so genuinely taken with the work she saw in the gallery, she said, "Wow! Do you know the artist who made these paintings? They're so awesome! Can you tell her how much I love them? They're just so good!". I also witnessed similarly enthusiastic reactions from individuals who were decades older than that little girl; the excitement throughout the night was fairly universal.

Works by Mary Garoutte and Isobel Hamilton
Works by Katharine Burns

It was great to see people take a break from their routine Saturday night activities to take in and appreciate art. There was also a fantastic response to the live model shadow drawing activity we had set up outside of the gallery. For three hours there was a constant gathering of people young and old who took the time to try their hand at sketching the various shadow scenes posed by model Carol Dill with assistance from her friend and her young son. It was a great collaborative effort that turned out to be a huge hit.

People gathered to do some sketching during Nocturne
Shadow poses for sketching during Nocturne

More people doing some sketches!

Playing with shadows!

It seemed as if inhibitions were left at home as many people stepped outside of their comfort zone to try something new. By the end of the night, there were stacks of paper filled with doodles!

Some of the many sketches made during Nocturne

We were so excited to feature the work of three incredibly talented women artists during Nocturne: Mary Garoutte, Isobel Hamilton, and Katharine Burns. Each artist creates work from a place of ambition, curiosity, and fearlessness to push beyond their own limits. The result is three impressive bodies of work that offer so much light and inspiration.

Isobel Hamilton, Light in the Dark, 11" x 14", Acrylic on Panel

Katharine Burns, Reverie, 30" x 30", Oil on Panel.
Mary Garoutte, Glass House, 22" x 36" , Oil on Birch Panel

Throughout the evening we also had a special video projection by Chris Devanney presented in conjunction with Katharine Burn's wave paintings. The video was only up for Nocturne, but you can view it online here.

Video Projection by Chris Devanney. The video can be viewed here.

If you weren't able to stop by during Nocturne, the show will be up for a few more weeks! Thanks again to everyone who came out to enjoy all the Nocturne festivities, and to all those who worked hard to make it a successful event.

We invite you to offer your feedback on this year's Nocturne by filling out the  2018 Nocturne Audience Survey

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Attention Artists- Get ready! Get Set! for Pre-Shrunk 2019


WOW! Time flies- it’s already time to start thinking about being part of our biggest “small” show of the year! Our much loved annual group show asks artists to create small works on 4”x5” surfaces.We encourage submissions from both established and emerging artists in their preferred mediums and all ages of artists,so take a look at the guidelines below and start making some art! 

Here are 3 examples of  Pre-Shrunk paintings by Craig Baltzer. The only really big rule with these little ones is that the surface needs to measure NO MORE THAN 4" x 5". We especially love these deeper/wider edged surfaces shown here.


  • Works must be on a 4x5” surface. Pieces that do not measure 4x5” will not be considered.
  • If you are sculpting the base of your sculpture must be 4x5”, but there is no height limit.
  • Artists may submit a maximum of 5 pieces.
  • We ask that you do NOT attach hanging devices (ie wire, hooks, d-rings, etc). The gallery will take care of this for continuity.
  • If you are working on paper it must be archival and mounted on a sturdy 4x5” surface that can be hung on the wall. (you can ask us about this 
  • Works done with materials such as charcoal and pastels must be fixed (ie sprayed) to protect the work.
  • You can work in any medium you chose (ie watercolour, oil, graphite, etc.)
  • We discourage the use of thin canvas or masonite boards as they are not easily wall mountable.
  • Submissions must be new and not previously shown.
  • To submit by email to
    • Your name
    • Phone number and email address
    • Titles of pieces and materials used to create the work
    • Images in a jpeg format, titled as indicated below.
  • Please title your image files as follows
    • Last name, first initial, title of piece, number of submission
    • Ex: McGuireC_GreenRoom01.jpg, McGuireC_BlueRoom02.jpg, McGuireC_PinkRoom03.jpg, McGuireC_OrangeRoom04.jpg, McGuireC_RedRoom05.jpg

If your work is selected by the jury you will be notified by phone or email the following week. You will then be required to bring the work in person or by mail.


  • Pieces that are selected for this year’s exhibition will be priced at $175 each, with standard 50% commission. Please keep this price in mind when creating your pieces.
  • DeSerres (1546 Barrington St, Halifax) and the NSCAD Art Supply Store (1874 Hollis St, Halifax) have kindly ordered pre-made 4x5” canvas and boards to supply artists wanting to participate in this show. Supplies are limited. You can also make your own surfaces to paint on. Again we discourage the use of canvas board.

Please phone, email or drop in to the gallery if you have any questions regarding the show – 902.425.9456. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

From your pals at Argyle Fine Art,
Adriana Afford and Claire MacDonald
1559 Barrington St, Halifax , NS

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Art Now, Sleep Later!

Today is a day we've been greatly anticipating: Nocturne 2018! Every year we look forward to Nocturne for many reasons, but particularly because it provides an opportunity to learn, see, imagine, and explore. It's always exciting to see what a great crowd this city-wide event draws, and how it encourages people to experience and engage with art in all forms, sometimes in ways like never before.

This year for Nocturne, we're really excited to be showing new works by three very talented local artists: Mary Garoutte, Isobel Hamilton, and Katharine Burns. While each of these artists explore different themes and imagery in their work, there is definitely a quiet underlying feeling that seems to tie the works together.

Mary Garoutte, Portal, 24" x 24", Oil on Birch Panel

 Mary's new body of work, "In Dreams" can be viewed on HERE.

Isobel Hamilton, Night Light, 11" x 14", Acrylic on Panel

 Isobel's new work can be viewed online HERE.

Katharine Burns, Flux, 30" x 30", Oil on Birch Panel
Katharine's new body of work, "Eventide", can be viewed online HERE.

There will also be a special video projection presented in conjunction with Katharine's work for a truly immersive ocean experience!

 In addition to the new works we have on display, there will be an interactive activity just outside of the gallery: shadow sketching! Live models will be posing to cast fun shadowy scenes, and we'll have some paper and pencils on hand so you can try your hand at live model model drawing.

We hope you'll include a stop to Argyle Fine Art in your Nocturne adventures this evening! 
See you soon! :)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

#thankful #grateful

The weeks between Labour Day weekend and Thanksgiving weekend seem to have slipped away so quickly! The months of September and October in Nova Scotia are usually filled with some of the nicest weather of the year, and time always flies by amidst the new routines that come along with the changing of seasons. The air has definitely begun to cool off, but it's not an excuse to stay inside during this beauteous time of year!

Gordon MacDonald, Under Evening, 30"x40", Oil on Canvas

Thanksgiving weekend is a perfect time for little road trips around the province. This painting, "Under Evening" by Gordon MacDonald is likely going to prompt an itch to hit the road, even for an afternoon. Tis the season of leisurely drives to take in the changing colors of the leaves, and the "golden hour" of autumn sunsets.

Gordon MacDonald, Rural Red Thing, 8"x10", Oil on Copper

As this weekend marks Thanksgiving, without being too cliche, it's hard not to be so thankful for the abundant harvest of delicious fruits and vegetables that are grown in our very own province. The apples, squash, beets, and more -yum! It's the tastiest time of year for local produce, so gather some friends and family, and enjoy the bounty!

George Spencer, "Harvest", 16"x20", Oil on Board.

The days are filled with less and less light as we move deeper into autumn, which means it's time to bring the light indoors. Isobel Hamiton's paintings of illuminated dark spaces remind us what a cozy time of year this can be. Light a candle and curl up with your favorite tea and treat, and you'll almost forget the sun went down before 7pm and that the temperatures have dropped significantly!

Isobel Hamilton, Oil Lamp, 8"x8", Acrylic on Board

Isobel Hamilton, Tea with Lemon, 8"x8", Acrylic on Board

Isobel Hamilton, Cherry Pie, 6"x6", Acrylic on Board

Next weekend as part of Nocturne, we will be showing a lovely new selection of works by Isobel, so stay tuned for more cozy delights! :)

In the meantime, have a wonderful long weekend, and get outside to breathe in some of that crisp Autumn air!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Pre-Shrunk 2019 Voucher Sale begins at NOON & October at a Glance

Remember how every year you say to yourself, " I should have bought a Pre-Shrunk Voucher?" Well TODAY, Thursday, October 4th is the first day they go on sale for the Pre-Shrunk 2019 show;  which opens on Friday, January 25th.

Read the details below and join in the fun!

PRE-SHRUNK is an annual juried show of small works that measure 4" x 5" in varying mediums by artists from all over! Each work sells for $175 and last year we had close to 450 works to choose from.But we sell 40 vouchers at a special price of $150 and the number assigned to your voucher (in order of when we receive your call or email) also puts you ahead of the line as well as gives you first looks and first choices! You also get to attend our very special VIP reception before the show opens to the public to make your selections. So much fun! If you can't be here the night of, we can act as your proxy or you can send another person in your absence.
ONLY 40 vouchers will be sold and need to be paid for in-full at time of purchase. The price is the same as it's been forever- $150 + tax and can not be used in combination of any other offer. NO HOLDS as these vouchers are in demand!
CALL 902-425-9456 OR 902-233-0784

If you don't get an answer right away, leave a voice message or email us ASAP  and we'll put your name on the list as we receive it and get right back to you for payment and contact info!
Whether you are #1 or #40..there are so many works to choose from, no one is every disappointed and you'll already be ahead of the crowd. 

*ATTENTION ARTISTS: We will be posting the Pre-Shrunk guidelines on this blog the week of October 15th*

Gosh, October is sooooo busy, so we thought we'd do up this is just handy dandy list of things coming up! Mark your calendars!



Wednesday, October 3rd, 6:30-8pm, FREE
HALIFAX TALKS ART -What to do with your art once you have it? 
Taking place at Secord Gallery, 6301 Quinpool Road

Saturday, October 13th, 6pm-MIDNIGHT, FREE
NOCTURNE: New exhibits by Mary Garoutte, Katharine Burns, Isobel Hamilton. Interactive display of Shadow Sketching with Carol Dill and Company

Wednesday, October 17th, 6:30-8:30pm, $50
Painting with Pastels- Make Fall Colours POP: Pastel workshop with Sharon Cave, All supplies included and no previous experience is necessary. Great for all ages. Call or email the gallery to register.

Saturday, October 20th, 10am-5:30pm
CITY HARVEST- Special events throught the Downtown!
 All Welcomed –Fun for the entire Family!

Wednesday, October 24th, 6:30-8pm, FREE
Meet artist Mary Garoutte and Katharine Burns Hear them speak about their latest works from “In Dreams”, Mini-reception to follow in celebration.

Thursday, October 25th, 6:30-8:30pm, $30
Join artist Allison Irish and learn to draw and doodle under the black lights! It’s a haunted doodle night with instruction for anyone that thinks they can’t draw. All supplies will be provided. Light snacks served.  It’s going to be BOOtiful! Call or email the gallery to register!

Saturday, October 27th, Broken Beautiful, 1pm-3pm, FREE
Join us in celebrating a new series of watercolours by Michelle Saint-Onge. This work will be of shells. A portion of the proceeds will be donated in support of Breast Cancer care and prevention in our community.

Drop by for HALLOWEEN fun and candies on October 26th and 27th. Anyone that visits us those days in a costume will be entered to win one FREE PRE-SHRUNK 2019 painting!