What it means to be a top Vancouver Island Artist
For the long-limbed trees and watery landscape of Vancouver Island, read Hundreds and Thousands. Setting aside, who can resist a woman who lived in a caravan in Goldstream Park with a pack of dogs and a monkey and shunned the human race except to attend her own art openings? Only a genius could both paint and write my/her home. This text speaks of Emily Carr, not only a top Vancouver Island Artist, but a famous Canadian artist who made the Island home. There have been and are a few of us artist’s here on Vancouver Island, it is the perfect place to retreat to after showing your work and travelling for your art business across Canada. The island offers scenic solitude and the mild winters offer this artist the opportunity to spend time in nature year-round.
Being a top Canadian artist from Vancouver Island is a special thing, having found my art education mostly elsewhere in Canada and Europe. Vancouver Island is not the centre of Canada’s art world, but it does offer a place for it’s top artists to disappear and create. When I am showing my work in Edmonton, Calgary or even Toronto, I put on a different hat and wear different clothes and embody my artist persona, the one that show’s up for art world events. This persona takes great energy, but also allows the fun of living in a different body for an evening. Being the intermittent extrovert I am, this ‘Iconic Canuck’ shows up with paintings that tell stories of my travels. It is not often I find myself painting stories of Vancouver Island these days, as my body of work has grown to express my pan-Canadian identity.
It is true I became famous for painting themes of hockey, landscapes, and Canadian pop culture icons, but what I am working on painting these days in our post pandemic times are feelings about my country as a whole and how I view it from a distance as I travel other countries. You may have seen me talk about my work on CHEK or SHAW TV, or through articles in local Canadian newspapers in towns I have shown my work. Or you may have watched the short documentary, ‘The Iconic Canuck’, shot right here in my studio on Vancouver Island.
I was born in Victoria BC, on Vancouver Island and I am a second generation Vancouver Islander and Artist. In my early years I spent time in the same places Emily Carr painted and John Muir hiked. I spent my days beachcombing, hiking the Sooke potholes and drawing my collections of rocks, leaves and skulls. I swam in the ocean and the rivers and learned about the land from Native elders or local tribes. I ate seaweed soup, sauerkraut soup and roast beef dinners with Yorkshire pudding on Sunday nights. I dreamt of travelling and exploring the entirety of my country and my grandparents roots in England and the Ukraine.
It was an eclectic, multicultural and colourful upbringing, just like every other Canadian across the country. As I continue to paint and exhibit my work I am headed to an artist residency at Banff Centre in the Canadian Rockies and look forward to where this journey will next take my work. You can follow this Vancouver Island artist online here. Cheers to the Artists of Vancouver Island, Canada.