Life as an artist in Victoria B.C. is pretty great. Canadian artists always ask me if I find living on an island on the western-most coast of Canada limiting to my career as a professional artist. My answer is always, no. Not if you find a way to get off the island and connect with Canadian artists in major cities across the country, from time to time – which is how I have been able to achieve this balanced and successful career as a Canadian Artist.
Vancouver Island is a place where that saying, ‘slow down it’s not the mainland’ applies. I grew up here, in a small fishing village about an hour outside of Victoria, called Sooke. My childhood was filled with wilderness hikes, beachcombing and time spent in our yard. I attended school with many native children who would bus for hours every day from Port Renfrew to get an education. Part of the curriculum was a native studies course where an elder took us to the beach and taught us to make soup from kelp and seaweed. He taught us about our connection and responsibility to nature. There is no doubt in my mind that these early experiences growing up in Sooke, imprinted influences that are still present in my paintings today.
Every year for the past few decades the Sooke Fine Arts show has presented an impressive roster of artists, emerging and established Canadian artists from Vancouver Island, the Gulf Island and artists from Haida Gwaii. This show gave me my start when I was just a teenager and I still participate from time to time.
Over the years I have traveled and moved around, but I always found myself coming back to Vancouver Island. I lived in downtown Victoria and worked in my home art studio in James Bay for many years. James Bay was a great place to work as a painter; with beautiful Beacon Hill Park, stunning ocean vistas on Dallas Road and the Victoria Inner Harbour below the ivy covered Fairmont Empress Hotel. Our largest outdoor art show the TD Canada Trust Moss Street Paint-In takes place just blocks away from the downtown core. Victoria based artists cover the sidewalks with displays and present there art and show some of their technique to crowds of thousands.
Then there is Sidney By The Sea; where you can find four public art displays showing my paintings inspired by Canada over the years.
About five years ago I moved my home and art studio to Colwood, wear I live on the edge of an estuary known as the Esquimalt Lagoon. Situated near Fisgard Beach, Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, I watch the naval ships of Canada’s Pacific Fleet come and go as well as the container ships traveling between Port Angeles, Washington and downtown Victoria.
As I work on new paintings in my studio I enjoy the changing views created by the movement of the sun on the undulating ocean surface. Canadian Geese fly so close to my open patio door that I would not be surprised if one ended up in the paint. Deer, bear, birdsong and the rhythm of frogs at night; my studio is alive with sounds of nature.
Though it is beautiful and great for concentrating on my work in the studio I do find the need to travel every couple months and keep my art connections and art chops finely tuned. Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa; visits to these city centres help keep me connected to the art world and to the artists in these areas. With my market being mostly outside of British Columbia, I have a created finely honed system for shipping art across Canada and into the United States.
No matter how much I travel I am always happy to breathe in that crisp and salty Vancouver Island air as I return home. British Columbia is beautiful and I am happy to keep on making art in my hometown. See the art.