ABOUT THE ARTIST
Maureen Ault is a Guelph, Ontario based mixed-media artist. She was formally introduced to various art forms as a teenager and began working with sculptures, abstract design, architectural art forms and Mondrian style abstract art. Her passion for art was rekindled during the latter stages of her treatment and hospitalization following a motor vehicle accident in 2012 that resulted in an Acquired Brain Injury. Working with traditional pressed flower art became a critical part of her occupational therapy. From this came an exploration of how to use pressed botanical materials to create works of art. This artwork became an important part of her ongoing rehabilitation and reconnected her to her passion for art as an artist.
She created her first collection in 2018, focusing on images of everyday life, ballet dancers, wildlife and dogs. Her artwork is influenced by the folk art of Maud Lewis as well as the abstract and stylized form of the Group of Seven. She has exhibited in the 10C Gallery in Guelph, Artisan Market with Headwaters Arts in Alton Mills, Dragonfly Arts on Broadway, Kloepfer Gallery, Nancy G Photography Studio and Gallery, various online art exhibits in Toronto and Guelph, as well as the Artwalk in the Square 2020.
Maureen also runs Pressed Flower Art Workshops for others living with Acquired Brain Injuries. In March 2021, she was awarded a grant from the Ontario Arts Council: Deaf and Disability Arts Projects-Production. October 2022 saw the opening of her first solo artist exhibit at the Elora Centre for the Arts. In 2023, she became a contributor to the newsletter for the World Wide Pressed Flower Guild and also submitted two pieces for consideration to the Ontario Society of Artists: 2023 Emerging Artists Exhibit. The artwork, "Hiking Through Killarney" was accepted for the exhibit.
Oshibana is an ancient Japanese artform dating back to the 1600's. This artform is created by using pressed botanicals to create a whole picture. Often each piece of artwork consists of many different, colours, shades and types of botanicals.
My current body of work focuses on landscape and wildlife art. Each piece of botanical material (i.e., petals, leaves, grasses, ferns, bark) is layered onto archival paper using a tiny drop of glue. My finished pieces reflect themes of movement, detail, and texture created by layering hundreds and often thousands of petals, leaves, etc. The challenge for me as an artist is how to create my vision for each piece using a limited palette that restricts the development of shadows and highlights. The brilliance of nature may not be transferred to the final pressed petal or leaf, as colour changes and a reduction in the colour intensity occurs with pressing. For example, many of us have experienced the stunning beauty of fall colours and yet when pressed, the leaves often diminish in colour intensity. To recreate nature as we see it, I use a variety of pressed botanical materials in my artwork. I spend hours in florists, greenhouses, and my friends’ gardens looking for the right material for each piece, as well as working directly with two commercial pressed flower companies in Oregon. Everyone has become used to my lingering over plants, cut flowers, and trees in my selection of just the right material for each piece. When I begin working with the petals, leaves, ferns, grasses, and bark, I pay close attention to their properties, such as, veining, and colour, when applying them. Working with leaves, for example requires that I pay close attention to the veining and directionality of their veining.
When I began this artistic work, I was dedicated to using only natural pressed materials without colour enhancements or dyes. As my work progressed, I began using commercially enhanced or dyed petals, particularly when doing a sky or bodies of water. After much reflection and the need to have greater control over the colour process itself, I began stem dying hydrangea petals for the sky and applying acrylic ink directly to petals or leaves. Descriptions for each piece include the materials used as well as, the presence of any colour enhancement. I may also use layers of archival paper under the pressed botanical materials or sections of decorative paper (Japanese Tissue or Tibetan Paper) to create added dimension . However, my focus remains on the natural material itself.
I believe it's also important to comment on the use of pressed botanicals and this medium. Pressing is a natural preservative which is further enhanced by my use of archival papers and glues in addition to framing under UV, museum, or Art glass. Once I introduced matting to the finished artwork, I also found it necessary to vacuum seal the pieces against either a piece of conservation anti-glare plexiglass or Art glass before matting to provide additional protection against oxygen and moisture. However, some botanical materials remain susceptible to UV despite these measures. I recommend that you hang your new artwork out of direct sunlight and away from moisture, chemicals, and sources of heat as you would with any piece of fine art.
Brain Injury Association of Waterloo/Wellington Video
This video was created in collaboration with BIAWW and focuses on the importance of pressed flower art on my own journey living with an acquired brain injury; the social, creative, and occupational therapy value of art programs offered by myself and BIAWW; as well as a brief discussion of my OAC grant and Elora Centre for the Arts Exhibit. In this video I emphasize the value of coming together as members to create artwork in a venue that allows participants to set aside their limitations and pain, learn new skills, and leave with a sense of accomplishment and pride in what we have created.