Free To Be: A Profile of Pat Whittle’s Art & Creative Spirit

“Being free to be myself.” That’s how Pat Whittle describes her art practice. Based in Muskoka, Pat’s creative spirit is clearly represented in an eclectic body work, from acrylics and oils, to encaustics, stained glass, and alcohol inks. The artist pours her heart and soul into exploration of colour and movement, pattern and feelings—every project presenting the artist with an opportunity to try something new. “There is only so much time in my life and I want to experience everything,” Pat says. “This is why I do a lot of different things, it makes me happy.”

Describing herself as a life-long artist, Pat began investing serious time and energy into artwork after her children left home. In 1991, while attending an art show in Oshawa, she was encouraged to join art groups and attend workshops.  She never looked back. While attending classes, Pat would try to copy a style or be more realistic or graphic. But her instructors would tell her they liked what she was doing and to keep forging her own path, and not be restricted in her expression.

Pond Reflections, Oil on Canvas, by Pat Whittle
Pond Reflections, Oil on Canvas, by Pat Whittle

Six years ago, Pat’s love of learning and experimenting took her to an encaustic—also known as hot wax—painting class, which opened up a new world. “You can really get into it, making your own medium. I melt the beeswax and the damar crystals. When they’re fluid, I add pigment to make the colours I like. Then I use heat to apply the mixture to wooden panels. I don’t worry so much what it’s going to look like. It’s the feeling I have of the movement and the colour.”

Zippidy-Doo-Dah-Encaustic-on-Wood-Panel by Pat Whittle
Zippidy-Doo-Dah-Encaustic-on-Wood-Panel by Pat Whittle

Encaustic has quickly become one of the artist’s favourite mediums. “It’s not static. You can work on it for days or weeks. You just need to keep reheating everything and watch the colours move.”

Spring, Encaustic on Wood Panel
Spring, Encaustic on Wood Panel

Pat Whittle also enjoys teaching and sharing what she’s already learned. The artist offers classes on printmaking on paper or on material, and will do encaustic lessons for one or two people at a time. A selection of the artist’s creations can be viewed on her website and on Facebook.  A few of Whittle’s encaustic paintings, stained-glass lanterns and art pendants are available at Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery in Bracebridge.  And while Pat is a member of ARTrail Muskoka, with the current social distancing protocols, she is closed to the public. If the situation eases up this summer, she may set up her tent to display work at the front her Bracebridge home.  If there is interest in something, she can arrange for safe viewing outside her Bracebridge studio.

Pat Whittle

To learn more about Pat Whittle’s art and classes, call 705-646-0011 or email: patwhittlestudio@gmail.com .

About the Author: Muskoka writer and visual artist Wendie Donabie paints pictures with words and flavours her creations  with alliteration, similes and metaphors. When words won’t do the job, she turns to her easel and paints what stirs her heart and soul – most often her love of the natural world. Wendie has published work in magazines and in poetry and literary collections. At this time, she is working on a murder mystery set in a forested resort area somewhere in North America. Wendie is co-founder of Muskoka Authors Association, operates Heron’s Nest Studio Gallery and is one of the organizers of  ARTrail Muskoka. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and www.WendieDonabie.com.

Photos courtesy of Pat Whittle.

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