In Conversation With Janet Patterson

Photo credit: Whitehorse Star

Q: When did you know that art was going to be a major focus in your life?

A: Art has always been a part of my life, but for many years I was involved in the performing arts, not visual art. I played piano from the age of 7 until I began university. Then I was without any kind of keyboard, and there was a 15-year hiatus before I finally had my piano shipped to the Yukon from my parent’s home. It was a delight being re-united with my old friend, and I began taking lessons again, eventually gaining my ARCT (Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music) in Performance. I taught piano for a number of years, while holding down a full-time Monday to Friday job and raising three children.

I dabbled in several different mediums including acrylic and oil painting, pottery, drawing, paper making and fabric arts (I learned doll making from a local Waldorf teacher), but I didn’t have much time to devote to any of this until I retired in 2019. Since then, hardly a day goes by that I am not working in my art studio.

Q: What inspires you when you are making art?

A: Just about anything and everything. It might be a line from a poem, a title of a song, a pretty stone, or a memory from years past. I love working with recycled materials and natural and found objects. I get a kick out of putting several seemingly disparate items on a table in front of me and seeing how I can bring them together to tell a story or create an interesting scene.

Q: How has COVID impacted you as an artist?

A: I think my art practice is one of the things that has kept me sane during this pandemic. I might not be able to travel, but my mind can go anywhere when I’m working on a piece of art. Another thing that has helped in terms of my mental health during COVID are my walks in the forest. I often find materials there that I later incorporate in my assemblage pieces.

Q: Is there something you would like people to know about you as an artist or a person?

A: Becoming a visual artist this late in my life (I am in my early 60s) has been a very humbling experience. I’m used to being proficient at my job. With my artwork, it feels like I have gone back to kindergarten. While I am making many mistakes, I am trying not to be too hard on myself as I learn and hopefully grow. I would encourage anyone, no matter what their age, to take up any kind of artistic pursuit that calls to them.