Art-Making: A Companion in Solitude

By Irene Naested (2021) Friesen Press

Many people turn to “The Arts” during periods of solitude, whether externally or internally imposed. They may have a deep-seated need, a passion, to make visual art statements. The letters are written to the reader/art-making companion to inspire the creation of their own artist’s book in a blank journal. (The book itself becomes a companion to the reader.) Various art materials, media, and methods are written with accompanying art images to stimulate art-making with images and words. A greater understanding and appreciation of art, art composition, the handling of various art media, and methods of overcoming the “blank paper/page syndrome”. Consider this artist’s book of letters and images as a companion to come back to anytime with no time restraints. These letters become a guide to moments, hours, days, weekend retreats or solitude where one can be awarded with “alone time” to make art.

This artist-book is a collection of letters and art by Dr. Irene Naested. It contains 38 letters and more than 100 images. The first letters introduce the idea of companion, the artist-book and the artist, being in solitude and about art-making. The following letters are about artists from different time periods and various art movements as well as art therapy and meditative art-making. Irene shares her passion for art-making in these letters which she addresses to her ‘art-making companion’. It is a perfect book for those interested in getting in touch with their visual artistic side and exploring art-making without self-judgement. The letters have a feel of intimacy and Irene’s sense of humour. The writing, quotes, poetry and art break up the pages visually providing an aesthetic reading experience.


Dr. Irene Naested, full professor and professor emerita from Mount Royal University (MRU), is an author, visual artist, and educator. She has authored numerous books, chapters, journal articles, and teacher resources on teaching and learning. Her poetry, prose, and art have been published nationally and internationally. She received a teaching award from MRU and a national art teaching award from The Canadian Society for Education through Art (CSEA). 

Irene’s visual art and writing in her artist’s books have become multi-layers of exploration of ideas, insights, meditative moments, and principles of composition gleaned from nature to tell her story.

Creating every day and creating the days, she lives in Calgary with her husband, Jesper, and across the Bow River from her son, Tom, daughter-in-law, Maureen, and amazing grandson, Seeton. Irene hosts a yearly “Passport to the Arts Show and Sale” the second Sunday of September, except in 2020!


Irene in Mexico

Irene will not be going to Mexico this Winter. Please join her on her Free Zoom Book Club. For registration and information about the Zoom book club times, please visit here on the website.