Margo Blackell connects with models

Artist Margo Blackell described her style as “a mix of visionary and magic realism, with a dash of whimsy.”

Blackell’s collection The Raven and I at La Petite Mort Gallery primarily featured portraits. The paintings are alive with individual personality and emphasize the presence of the human spirit that is apparent in all her work.

Blackell explained she has always felt a connection to birds. She said she admires the raven in particular, and draws from the indigenous concept of the bird.

“[The raven] is quite a complicated figure. He’s the creator, he’s the trickster, and he’s a number of other things . . . he steals things, he has a sense of humour,” she said.

Cayllan Cassavia, a master’s student in Art History at Carleton and intern at La Petite Mort, said Margo felt freer with the work she’d been doing over the last year and a half.

Blackell said she appreciates working with Guy Berube, the owner of the gallery, in the past the magic realism in her art was lost in efforts to sell her paintings.

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“Now, thanks to Guy, I can do what I want to do.”

She attributed much of her inspiration to the unique personalities of the models she works with.

“A lot of figures in her works are taken from real life,” Cassavia said.

A portrait of a woman, called “Clouds Are Home,” is based on a poem that the model wrote and read to Blackell.

“She was sitting there looking vulnerable and telling us this poem about this guy that might leave,” she said. “She was really convincing herself that she was okay no matter what.”

The exploration of a “wide range of human experiences” is what Blackell said she wants viewers to draw from her art.

Blackell said she wants the viewer to see the models’ personality come through in her work.

“They’re all distinctive and they should all speak and say something different to the viewer,” she said. “I hate to go into a gallery where everything’s all the same.”