Q: When did you know that art was going to be a major focus in your life?
A: I don’t come from a family of artists, so I didn’t know from a young age that it could be possible to make a living as a visual artist. However I was so happy every time I had my art class at school. I think my teacher expected me to study art at university. When I ran into her a few years out of high school and told her I was training to be a dental hygienist, I could tell she was disappointed. That really stuck with me. A few years ago I got back in touch with her to tell her I was now a full time artist. I didn’t want her to stay disappointed forever. She was very happy to hear my news.
If I hadn’t been exposed to art in school, I likely would not be an artist today. Art in school is very important!
Another critical moment for me was when I moved to the Yukon. It is a land of opportunities here. If you want to try something, there is space to do it. I have had a chance to do so many artistic things here: I wrote my own music and performed on stage for awhile. Eventually I decided music wasn’t my thing because I am introverted, but visual art was.
I was self-taught for a long time, but at the age of 40 I decided to leave my job (I was working as a journalist at that time) and do my Bachelor degree in Art. That really expanded my world. Since then I have gone on to further my education, recently completing a Ph.D. in art in Montreal.
I love the sense of community here in the Yukon, and sometimes I am able to combine community projects with art. It’s a nice balance to the solitary work I do as an artist.
Q: What inspires you when you are making art?
A: The Yukon is inspiring to me. The territory is so big; it’s hard to escape it, and I am definitely affected by it. I feel very small in this vast landscape, and I am trying to play with that idea in my art. Even when I created my confinement series during these times of COVID, the landscape is still there. These paintings examine why I feel so trapped when there is such an amazing landscape outside my window.
Q: How do you get such vibrant colours in your paintings?
A: I use a glazing medium. I put a tiny bit of colour in this medium, and paint in many layers, letting each layer dry before adding another one. It’s a long process, but I love the effect is gives. Without glazing, the surface looks flat. Using this method, the eye follows the light through the many layers, giving a more brilliant appearance.
Q: How has COVID impacted you as an artist?
A: Since COVID I have had to adjust. I am coordinating the Yukon chapter of the Ten Word Caravan, which is an international project that originates in France. Each year they select ten words in French, and they then ask Francophone artists from all around the world to create an art project using those words. Last year because of the pandemic I had to take my project online, making small videos. This year though, it seems I will be able to go into the schools with it, so that’s really nice.
In terms of my individual art, I think COVID forced me to make some of my best work so far. It’s far more subdued than my usual colourful work; I find myself using lots of white. I guess with COVID, I needed some peace, and it did affect my painting in a good way.
Q: Is there something you would like people to know about you as an artist or a person?
A: I never know in advance what I am going to paint. I don’t have a clear image in my mind. I have to first have that moment of joy when I just play with the paints, and an idea usually comes to me while I am doing this. This may not work for everybody, but for me, it’s the way I create as an artist.