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Spring Lake artist dabbles in more than dots

Anja Bock rocks the trendy mandala market
Anja Bock places a drop of acrylic paint somewhere, anywhere on a blank background. The dots keep coming, always in a symmetrical format.

Gradually the brightly coloured dots take shape – possibly a circular geometric design or maybe a plump panda. The simplicity fools a viewer into thinking the work is easy. However, if even one dot is askew, the picture appears lopsided.

Under the business name For the Love of Dots, Bock quite literally rocks the dot painting market at St. Albert Farmers Market. In addition to meticulously painting dot patterns on rocks, she displays decorative coffee mugs, glasses, tumblers, insulated thermoses and water bottles.

There is no shortage of individuals attracted to the sparkly items. Vancouver tourist Leslie Peterson, in town visiting family, stopped by Bock’s booth Saturday to purchase several items.

“I like the uniqueness, the brightness, the attention to detail. Everything here is unique, a one-of-a-kind,” said Peterson. “And the functionality is very important. It’s very usable. It’s functional art.”

Bock’s images are reminiscent of a mandala, circular with a centre starting point that radiates out. Designs are symmetrical and hypnotic.

“I start with one dot and then I put four dots around it. The big challenge is to have all sides equal. There’s a lot of stuff you can mess up and you won’t end up equal,” said the self-taught artist.

The hobby artist’s motifs pop with bright hues of colour that almost look like three-dimensional beads from a distance. By adding delicate swirls here and there, she has created a signature style that could be considered an offshoot of “dotillism” and mandala painting.

Bock first came across this style of ornamentation at a market in Stony Plain in 2016. The freehand concentric circles in different colours worked magic on her mind.

“It was the dots. The art, it was beautiful,” Bock said.

Setting up studio in her Spring Lake home, she purchased a few tools – cotton swabs, tooth picks, a burr for drilling holes – and began doodling on rocks.

“They’re (rocks) cheaper to buy and they don’t break.”

From rocks, she experimented on different materials such as glass and metal. She even painted a dream catcher and an elephant head on canvas. One of her more complicated designs is painted on a tumbler – an artsy Chinese dragon showcasing a menacing tail that wraps around a water bottle.

“I even had a custom order from a lady who curls. She wanted a curling rock painted.”

Interestingly, while growing up in Germany, Bock’s passion was horses.

“We farmed close to a race track and when I was a kid, about six years old, I started carrying feed and water buckets for the horses.”

Growing up around a racetrack, Bock apprenticed as horse trainer and drove trotters at harness races. As a professional harness racer, she competed in 500 races, winning 30.

Since moving to Spring Lake in 2007, the visual artist has enjoyed a checkered career as a dental lab technician, horse trainer and department manager at two area hardware stores.

Although Bock’s first love was horses, she always displayed a creative bent with knitting and crocheting. Last year at St. Albert’s 2019 Christmas farmers’ market, she fashioned dog-paw shaped Christmas tree ornaments, which sold out.

Her dot paintings require anywhere from three hours to three days to complete, depending on the complexity. To make each piece of art dishwasher-safe, she bakes the acrylic painted item at 350 F.

“They are no-fade, dishwasher-safe. But if you want to keep the beauty, hand washing is best.”

Paying close attention to minute detail frustrates some individuals. For Bock, it is a way to destress and regain harmony and balance in life. Just the simple act of gazing at the circular elements evokes a feeling of calm and contentment.

While painting is self-isolating art, selling art at the market helps Bock connect with like-minded people.

“When people come back and tell me they bought something last year, I love it, love it, love it. It’s a good feeling.”

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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