Newfoundland pride is strong with Houston
STEWIACKE, NOVA SCOTIA: Virginia Houston is a proud Newfoundlander—so it’s no surprise that ‘the rock’ is featured in the vast majority of her work. Art has guided her life—from getting her into trouble in elementary school for drawing during lessons, to teaching art herself to younger generations when she became a teacher as an adult.
“I work mainly in acrylic—I’ve done oils and watercolours, but acrylics dry the fastest, so I don’t have the patience for the others,” began Houston. “I’ve done watercolours for 13 years with another Newfoundland Artist. I don’t think I knew what I was doing for the most part, but I struggled through that, and found acrylics when I was teaching high school art in Newfoundland.”
Houston comes from a small fishing village in Newfoundland; where everyone had to do everything to get by. So her art arose from hours spent knitting and sewing in her childhood and adolescence.
“I was raised in a family where everybody did everything,” she said. “My father was a fisherman for a while—he did everything in the trades. So I picked up whatever he knew. I could build a house if I really wanted to. I learned how to sew and knit and crochet—I could make coats when I was 10-years-old.
“So I went on from there,” she explained. “When I was knitting I was doing my own designs, there was no such things as patterns in rural Newfoundland. I could do stars and flowers and everything like that. I’d put them into the back of the sweater and things like that.”
When she started teaching—drawing on her own experience of getting the strap for drawing in class—Houston made sure that her students always had an artistic outlet in her class. She’d work drawing or painting into as many activities as she could.
“I was teaching elementary grades, and I always remembered what happened to me, so when I was correcting work I’d let them draw,” she continued. “Or I’d make them illustrate their stories during English class.”
In 1980, Houston went to a well-known artists show, and asked to be one of his students.
“I went back to school in the fall—and as soon as I went back to school I received a call for him, and that was it,” she said. “I’ve never gone back since. He worked with watercolour, which I didn’t like doing. When I started doing high school art I got into acrylics, and I haven’t looked back since.
“My inspiration comes from the land, the sea, and the people,” explained Houston. “Daily activities, and re-settlement of people.”
Some of Houston’s work at the Winding River Art Gallery comes from those sources—there’s a painting of her hometown in Newfoundland, some paintings from when she was attending courses in Myrtle Beach, and other buildings around Newfoundland that caught her eye.
Outside of the Winding River Art Gallery, Houston can be found at the Fisherman’s Cove Gallery; the Bread Gallery in Brooklyn; and the Sweetest Little Gallery in Wellington.
(An article from the Enfield Weekly Press)