A Drawing a Day by Margo Yacheshyn

Margo Yacheshyn

What happens when real life takes over and you can no longer afford to spend time in your studio? You find ways of keeping yourself creative! At least that is what local artist Margo Yacheshyn has been doing for the past few years.

After finishing art school at the Alberta College of Art and Design, Margo moved from Calgary to the Okanagan in 2000. Margo became quickly involved in the local arts community by joining the Alternator Gallery and introducing Artist Trading Cards to all who were part of the gallery at the time. That is where Margo and I first met.

I’ve known Margo for almost all of the 12 years she has lived here, so am pretty familiar with how her creative practice has changed and evolved, so I thought it would be interesting to sit down with her and discuss what she is currently working on. I asked her to talk about the evolution of her art practice, to which she laughed at, “I don’t feel like have an art practice.” She went on to say that she is trying to figure out what her art is, what it is about. She has a battle with herself looking at her drawings as art, as they are things that fit into every day. Her current drawings are more like free form decorative pieces, but as she has been posting them on facebook, she has been getting some really positive feedback. Margo said that she feels that she can’t claim that what she is doing is art, as there is no meaning. Does it have to mean anything? Can it not just be aesthetically pleasing? I think it can. And her work certainly is. “The positive feedback reassures me, validates what I’m doing. Knowing that people enjoy what Im doing makes me excited to draw more,” says Margo.


image from A Drawing a Day

Margo had a fantastic studio space when she first moved here, a bunch of us would get together and make art, drink wine, talk about art. It was so much fun to be with creative people all the time making stuff! But as it happens, other stuff takes over, life, buying a house, having a child, and other priorities. Two years ago, Margo’s New Year’s resolution was to do a drawing a day. As most resolutions go, she didn’t get on it right away, but after a couple of months went by she did a drawing a day for the rest of the year. I even have a book she had made of the drawings that she did to prove it. The drawings started as images of the items on her desk at work, doodles, drawings of birds – she needed a way to get back into making art again, so starting with something that was not overwhelming was the perfect way to do this.

Margo came across a image from a Japanese artist of a paper cut out of a heron, and as she was drawing birds, she starting drawing heron’s and making them very intricate – no longer as simple as the doodles was making.  For the Woodhaven Eco Art Project, Margo created postcards – four photos of the park and four drawings of birds found in the park.

Heron, silkscreen, 2010

One day, Lori took me for a walk through the woods. It was daytime, but somewhat dark from the trees. The sound, as it is in woods, was dampened by the vegetation. We spotted a great horned owl sitting in a tree. Likely not liking our proximity, it then spread its massive wings and swooshed away. It was utterly magnificent in size and beauty.”

After posting some of her heron drawings on facebook, an artist friend of hers from Calgary, Alden Alfon, contacted her saying he would love to print them for her. Alden is part of Burnt Toast Studios in Calgary where he has access to an amazing print studio, so voila, this collaboration was born.

“The feedback and encouragement I get on Facebook motivates me to keep drawing. I have struggled over the years about art-making. I used to make sculptural, installation-based work (dabbling a bit in the performative arena), but when we bought our house and I gave up my warehouse studio space, I lost the ability to work big and messy. And working full time, I no longer had time or energy for such endeavors. That work was being made from a deep (and dark) place – which made it feel like it had purpose and substance. I struggle with making these little drawings that seem to come from nothing more than a drive to just do something – like bouncing a foot or tapping a pen. There’s no social commentary, no deep meaning, just decorative shapes and colours to release nervous energy or distract from invasive thoughts and emotions – or in the case of staff meetings, to stay focused.”

Margo scanned her drawing to colour in Photoshop, sent it to Alden so he could create the colour separations to create the print, and after passing the print back and forth through the mail, he created a beautiful seven-colour silkscreen of the original heron drawing. Alden has now printed a second of Margo’s drawings – this time a great horned owl.

While Margo draws, she often listens to music that she finds inspiring. She was introduced to I Am You Autopilot, a band from the UK, and is now working with them on a collaborative project. They have asked Margo to create the cover for their new album. Margo has been listening to the music and doing some amazing drawings for them. They have been going back and forth – sending something to each other almost every day. “It is so exciting for me to wake up and check my email to find something from them.”

image from a Drawing a Day

Even though Margo mentions that she isn’t convinced that what she is doing is “art” as there is no social commentary, I do not agree with her. I myself struggle to find meaning in work, and am often concerned with making sure that what I am drawing has meaning. I do agree with Margo that the validation you get from people responding positively to your work does make you feel good, and makes you want to keep creating new work, and I think that is enough to consider something “art”. The drawings that Margo creates to have feeling, and because they are personal to her, that gives them meaning.

To see more of what Margo is writing about and creating, check out her blog, http://yacheshyn.blogspot.ca/
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