Meet the Crafters: Rebecca Roher

November 13, 2012 | Halifax Crafters Society

We mentioned in our last post we’d be introducing you to some of the crafters in our new ‘Fresh Catch’ category. This category is yet another way that Halifax Crafters is endeavouring to bring new and inspiring work to the show, providing you with fresh gifting ideas, while giving emerging crafters the opportunity to test new waters. We are really excited about our ‘Fresh Catch’ Crafters, and can’t wait to give you a sneak peek of some of the fantastic new work that you’ll find at the winter market. Let’s get started!

The first ‘Fresh Catch’ crafter we’d like to share with you is Rebecca Roher of Rebecca Roher Art. She is an accomplished painter and illustrator who lives and works on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. We love Rebecca’s paintings and her use of colour – they are as playful as they are thoughtful, and would make great gifts for the dreamers in your life! 

What do you make?

I paint bright and whimsical watercolours inspired by the beauty and wonder of the natural world, and the curious and playful way we interact with it. I try to capture the magic in the everyday, playfulness, humour and the joy of life. I’m awed by the way children explore the world with wide open eyes, and the intensity with which a kitten can focus in on very small details and be completely engaged. I get excited about gardens and forests, all the life hiding within, rich in potential for imagery and stories.

Aesthetically, I love the traditional Mughal miniature painting style from India, its flat aesthetic and small-scale detailed portrayal of plants, animals and figures. I am hugely influenced by stories and storybooks and tend to think of my paintings as illustrations. Illustrations are very powerful, especially for the very young. The images we gazed upon while parents read goodnight stories stay with us for life. Who knows how they inform the people we become.

What is your process?

The images I create often come to me after I spend time outside, flipping through a book, hearing or imagining a story, and sometimes from seeing a powerful image or symbol. I keep a lot of sketchbooks and doodle in them. Sometimes I want to take a sketch further and make it into a painting. When I paint, I try to tap into my inner child and remember how to play.

I try to be both loose and controlled in my handling of the watercolours. I like a naïve aesthetic, and an exaggeration and simplification of colour and shape. I experiment with the possibilities of the watercolour medium, playing with effects achieved by water, resist and salt. I limit myself mostly to two very fine brushes, made in India of squirrel hair. These brushes are traditionally used to paint Indian miniature paintings—a style which, as I mentioned, is an important influence for my work.

How long have you been a crafter?

I started focusing on watercolours in my final year at NSCAD about four years ago, but only started making prints of my paintings in the last year, so I am quite a new crafter and am in the ‘fresh catch’ category this year. I started selling prints this summer at my local Farmers Market in West Dublin, NS and at the Sappyfest Zine Fair in Sackville, NB. The prints are limited edition and are printed on heavy archival quality watercolour paper. I am delighted by the results. They are bright and beautiful and look shockingly like my original work. I also sign, title and number each print.

 What is your background/How did you get started?

My mum is an artist and used to take me to life drawing classes when I was growing up in Toronto. This gave me an amazing foundation in drawing the figure- something that informs the ability to draw anything. I graduated from NSCAD with a BFA in drawing and painting in 2009. After graduating, I was accepted into a yearlong studio residency at the Old Firehall in Lunenburg, NS. There, I was able to establish a focused studio practice. Upon leaving the residency, I stayed in the LaHave area and rented a small wood heated cabin for my studio where I painted the majority of the work available as prints at crafters this year. The cabin was cut off from communication and distractions, and I was quite productive there. Now, I work in a studio in my home in West Dublin.

 Why do you do what you do?

I love painting. It’s something I know I will do forever and get excited about doing forever, which I can’t say I feel about most other things. When I see or hear something that inspires a feeling in me, I have a vision and get the urge to paint in order to capture it. I get the urge to paint all the time, I never feel that I’m doing it enough. There are way more paintings still in my head than on paper.

When you’re not selling at Crafters markets, where can I find your work?

You can find my work in my Etsy shop and in store at Dots & Loops Handmade in Lunenburg.

What makes Halifax Crafters different from other shows?

Halifax Crafters has an incredibly high standard of handmade local goods. It’s amazing how many talented, creative people there are in the Halifax area selling their creations there. I’ve been a customer at the sale for many years, from back when it was in the North Street Church, and it’s expanded so much. It takes a lot of self-control to spend an appropriate amount of money there- I just want to buy everything.

What are you excited about seeing at the Winter Market?

Although I am the kind of person who wears the same piece of jewelry for years and never take it off, I am always most attracted to the jewelry at crafters and end up becoming completely attached to a ring or necklace. I also get quite attached to mugs, I get lost in the fantasy of holding a handmade mug full of warm coffee. Also, anything tiny.

 What kind of music do you listen to while you work?

I’m on a big Bill Callahan kick. In that vein, the Weather Station and Jennifer Castle. I also love female jazz vocalists and am pretty excited about a recent discovery of Greta Keller. I also like to put on stuff with a beat, like Little Dragon and Grimes, to keep energy going.

 A place you love?

My cottage and canoe tripping in Northern Ontario. I miss both so much.

 An artwork or artist you love?

Maira Kalman- her book “the Principles of Uncertainty” and everything else she does, also Frida Kalho and Quentin Blake.

 Favourite time of the year?

I like every season but think I like fall best. Maybe that’s just because its fall right now. Everything slows down and its time to make fires, wear sweaters and get cozy. It’s not too cold yet and there is still bounty from the summer. And oh, the colours!

What’s your favourite way to procrastinate?

Tending to the fire, puttering around my house and tidying things.