Q: When did you know that art was going to be a major focus in your life?
A: When I was a kid, I didn’t have a whole lot of information on what was available to study at university. At the time the government was offering to pay people to go to nursing school, so that’s what I decided to do. In the interview, I was asked what I would do if I didn’t get accepted into nursing, and right away I said I would study physical education and art at UBC (University of British Columbia). I didn’t think that was even a possibility to study the two subjects I loved. Instead, I was accepted into the two-year nursing program and completed that. But I was always doodling on the edge of my notes.
Then in 1981 I moved to Vancouver Island and took a stained-glass course. I kind of forgot about it for a few years until someone asked me to create a glass window for them. After that came craft fairs, and I started doing more and more glass work.
It wasn’t until I turned 40 that I decided this is what I want to do as a career. I read and read and read about glasswork and invested in a lot of equipment.
Q: What inspires you when you are making art?
A: The light in nature, and nature in general. I do a lot of walking by lakes and rivers and a lot of listening to birds. In the past I visited a lot of other galleries for inspiration… I travelled to glass shows along the entire west side of North America until I realized that I was doing my own thing and my work was as good as anything I had seen elsewhere. To know that I was in the same calibre as other glass artists was confidence building and it meant that I didn’t need to look elsewhere for ideas; I had all that I needed right here. Not having any outside influence allows me to be quite original.
Q: Of all the techniques that you use, do you have a favourite?
A: I am really enjoying fusing elements that go into an old-fashioned stained-glass window. That, and painting. I am learning more about painting, which is a whole different ballgame. I’m really gaining a fond appreciation of mosaic work too.
How has COVID impacted you as an artist?
A: It cut out my teaching. It also cut out my part time job; there were too many people around and because I have some lung issues I was too vulnerable to stay at that job. However since people have started getting their vaccinations, I have been able to start offering workshops again, so things are looking up.
Having a solo show in February (2021) was great because it gave me a purpose and it made me push myself to meet that deadline.
Q: Is there something you would like people to know about you as an artist or a person?
A: I like seeing people be happy and I like to promote that. For instance, for people with dementia, if they only have a memory that is five minutes long, I like to make that a really worthwhile five minutes. That impacts the rest of their day in a good way, even if they don’t remember what they did.
I love having students in my studio: they enjoy the bright open space, they laugh and bring snacks; it’s a real social gathering place and I like that. What I love most is people meeting people and making connections.
The other thing I’d like to share with people is that finally, at the age of 62, I can say that I am able to support myself with just my art. I think I have arrived!