Five Words and Final Thoughts For 2020 – From Fear to Release

As images of the year that was, fly across screens I am reminded that my screen time is down 42% over the previous week, this makes me smile. This year has been unlike any I have experienced in my time on Earth, but isn’t this true for any year we are alive? My biggest realization this year is that FEAR, is at an all time high and FEAR produces two reactions in most humans. It always makes me think of the novel Dune by Frank Herbert, though I never read the book, I did watch the film by David Lynch which has been re-made this year by Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Fear is not a bad thing, it is a motivator, until it is not, and we freeze, then fear is a very bad thing. Fear keeps us from getting killed in dangerous situations.  Cowards (like me) have a knack for survival.  But, like the hero from “Dune,’ sometimes we have to overcome our fear when there is something more important to worry about, like your health. Part of health for me is making Art, and talking with people that have positive outlooks on life. I suppose this is why I enjoy the perspective of those that have spent more time on Earth than I, the stoic ones.

final thoughts 2020

So how about a year in review post, here’s what I did, etc.? How about a poem that marks the year? a funny anecdote, a comedic commentary, not for this year, for this year I am focusing on how I made it through, using five words.

PAINT: it is both a privilege and an honour to make Art, every day. It is my work, but also my therapy. Painting gives me the ability to focus my thoughts and process them in a beautiful and lasting way, not unlike writing. My therapy is also my gift back to the world, that I hope touches another human, in some way.

final thoughts 2020

PHOTOGRAPHY: before and after creating a new work of art on canvas or wood, I take photographs. This year there were fewer opportunities for trips afar, so focused on my backyard and community that surrounds. This year I was moved by my hometown in ways I have not been in a very long time.

2020 in five words

WALK: long walks in nature, down rocky beaches, through rainforest trails, and up mountainsides give me more than I could ever return. It’s free therapy and a reminder that whatever it is the weighs on us, can be lifted greatly in a short conversation with that which does not speak words, only sounds and smells.

2020 in review

BIKE: this year like many I invested in a good bicycle, allowing for longer excursions exploring nature, investigating areas which feet and automobiles cannot take us.

2020 in review

RELEASE: survivor guilt occurs when people who lose families, friends, or neighbors in disasters themselves remain untouched or, at least, alive. My survivor guilt is figurative. First-generation college students, for example, often feel torn by conflicting emotions about their success in school. They want to do well (and their families want them to also), but the students themselves feel guilty that they are getting opportunities that their parents or siblings did not. To “protect” their family members, they may engage in self-destructive behaviors that ensure they won’t make it in school.  Logic would dictate that the family truly wants the student to succeed (and thus bring honor to the family), but this logic is lost on the student. The power comes in releasing yourself from the guilt, and I work hard to remind myself every single day that I deserve this career and all the things I have worked so hard on achieving, personally and professionally.

2020 final review

For most of the year I have remained silent in light of all the struggling that surrounds me, and I have experienced a range of emotions this year, just like everyone else. This year has been hard for ALL, but it really wasn’t that hard, in fact it ‘is what it is’ only the change came so rapidly that it upset us from our comfortable rhythms. What’s that quote, ‘Man plans and good laughs’ or in my mind, it is nature that is laughing at us.

Ultimately, when I look back at 2020 I feel immense gratitude. On the Art side I bobbed, weaved, and hustled and came out having a good productive, year. I painted the shit out of this year, loved hard, peeling back my vulnerability to it’s core. I laughed, cried, danced and fell off my bike (true story). I drank too much, ate too much, and gave more than I had in me to those that needed it more than me. And then the monoliths began appearing.

You have seen that film, ‘A Beautiful Life’ ? It’s pretty fucking grand, isn’t it? Imagine if everything was perfect, pretty, and fair all the time? Boring.

I love you all! Thanks for reading. Shine on.

Cheers to 2021 – another year playing the game of LIFE.

photo of Canadian Artist Brandy Saturley

Sincerely Yours,

Brandy Saturley

Making a Remembrance Day Painting in The Pandemic Year

Talking about making a Remembrance Day Painting, and looking at the artist process behind making a painting in 2020.

In Canada, red poppies seem to conjure thoughts and feelings about Remembrance Day and family that has served, or is currently serving in our Canadian Forces. I have painted red poppies a number of times over the years, but none seemed to touch Canadians as much as this piece created in 2014, inspired by the women of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps.

Perhaps it is because many of us had grandmothers, mothers and even great-grandmothers serve. Many people have sent me the most lovely notes about this piece over the years, it seems to connect with Canadians widely and on a deep level, with many seeing their own mothers in the piece. I have been interviewed about the piece, shown it in public and private galleries and will be offering a print of it in the coming weeks.

remembrance day painting sitting on art shipping crate

A New Painting with Poppies: with this new painting my focus is Remembrance Day, as it is approaching and it has been 6 years since I have referenced the day in my artwork. I am mindful of how this day will look in this pandemic year. As this year is quickly coming to a close, I am looking at the paintings which I have made this year. I feel that this piece here, right behind my bowler hat and white gloves, is my very best of the year.

This piece brings together my pop aesthetic, realistic details, and symbolism – it is striking and simple in my design. I begin painting by sketching an outline of my idea on stretched cotton canvas. Then I outline again and add shading in a complementary colour, to the final colour I will be painting on top. In this case I am using variations of green for the outline and shading details, as the final colours in the piece will be variations of red.

Next, I begin to colour block and lay down big swathes of reds and oranges, using vigorous brushstrokes.

I continue adding layers of colour from background to foreground, repeating the process with more care each time. This part of the process adds depth, fine textures and various tones and shades. I am creating dimension as the piece begins to come to life and pop off the canvas. I also add the flesh tones to the face so that I can assess the overall tonal balance of my palette and within the piece.

I continue to repaint the entire painting, until the desired tonality is reached and definition is achieved. Then I go into the painting with a finer brush and lighter touch and work on the details, linework, and highlights. In this case metallic and interference paints have been added to bring reflective elements to the piece, adding to the overall ‘glow’.

Remembrance Day Painting detail Brandy Saturley

Time for the final review: which has become known as my ‘chair of contemplation’ moments. The time when I stare for a long period of time as my eyes roll back and forth across the canvas and in differing lights, until I am satisfied that the piece is complete.

It has been said that Picasso created 50,000 works in his lifetime, and is known for about 100 of these. Not every painting is a masterpiece, and you must put in the time and make a lot of bad paintings to reach the masterpieces.

I am very happy with how this piece has evolved, and I hope you will enjoy it as well.

I’ll Carry That Weight (Spirit of Remembrance) Original acrylic painting on canvas honouring Remembrance Day 2020 – by Canadian Artist Brandy Saturley. The painting measures 36×36 inches, and is made with acrylic paints on the finest cotton canvas.

painting of woman with red poppies on a wall

You can see more paintings celebrating Canada on my website.

Sincerely Yours,

Brandy Saturley

Canadian artists studio Brandy Saturley

Behind the Scenes – Inside an Artist’s Studio

It has been said that the artist’s studio “is central to an artist’s myth and the way that we come to understand a work of art and its meaning in society”, though rarely do many have a chance to visit these creative havens where the artist works. They are places typically reserved for artists to create, serious art collectors to view the work privately, and curators to visit and consider works for future art exhibitions.

I recall watching a film, shot in 1949, showing Picasso working in his studio, always ahead of his time, this was the first time many of us had the chance to experience the Artist’s process of creation. In 1965, the next coming of Picasso, as channeled through the famous NYC art star, Andy Warhol, gave the public a peak inside his life and studio unlike any before, recording the most mundane parts of his life, becoming art himself.

Thanks to the Internet, and social media platforms like Instagram & Facebook, many artists have taken to posting photos and video showing behind the scenes snippets from their studios. Not unlike the ‘making of’ and behind the scenes footage from film sets, the fans are fascinated with learning how things are made, it’s a peek behind the velvet curtain, and I don’t think it is going to vanish anytime soon. These sneak peeks inside an artist’s process offer more information about how much work goes into making art. It is sometimes challenging to impart on viewers how much goes on in a professional artist’s studio. The studio contains tools, collected items, memories, materials, and things to set the tone such as music, photographs, books and even films. The studio contains all the materials collected on journeys, mental and physical. All experiences are filtered down to ideas here, and it’s true what they say, that once an Artist falls in love with you that you can never die. The experiences, words, gestures, relationships an Artist has, bleed their way into their art. Here are a few ‘behind the scenes’ photos and a snippet of video – welcome to my office, my haven, welcome to my world.

inside the studio of an artist

Behind the scenes: inside the studio of Canadian artist Brandy Saturley


behind the scenes the art studio of Brandy Saturley

Follow along on Instagram @iconiccanuck

Vimy Jam – A Serendipitous Painting Inspired by Vimy 100

Serendipity is defined as; the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for, meaning something beautiful coming together, that was not forced or planned in advance that put smiles on the faces of all affected and in doing so alters future events. This is the story behind a painting inspired by Vimy 100 celebrations in France.

In the past few weeks, serendipity found it’s way into my art, through a portrait project I began over four years ago, thanks to a very enthusiastic Canadian.

The People of Canada Portrait Project is a crowd-sourced, collaborative art project, where I ask Canadians to send in photos of themselves and share a bit about their ‘Canadian’ perspective. Initially this project came with a very ambitious goal of completing 20-25 painted portraits for Canada 150. This could have happened had I not been called on to exhibit solo exhibitions in public galleries in Alberta for Canada150. As the project is completely self-funded, and with me being the only artist painting the portraits, I decided to extend my deadline and allow the project to unfold more authentically. I wanted to take my time to paint these portraits and honour the stories of the people who had taken the time to send me creative snapshots of themselves. A new plan emerged and I included one of the portraits in my travelling exhibitions in 2017, and used these shows as an opportunity to spread the word about the project.

Fast forward to June 2018, now ten portraits towards my goal. I had a window of time in my studio schedule, an opportunity to paint more People of Canada portraits. Feeling the energy of Canada Day coming around the corner I looked through the submitted photos and felt a good story, energy, and message emanating from one photo. Submitted by an enthusiastic piper hailing from Sherwood Park Alberta, RCMP Pipes & Drums ambassador Bridgette Hardy-Crytes. The photo features the piper caught by surprise by the brush of eagle feathers to the head by Jeff Ward, an Indigenous performer with the Sons of Membertou, from Cape Breton. The photo was taken at Vimy 100 celebrations in Vimy, France where the two were brought together by the events of the day and their musical talents.Painting Inspired by Vimy

I began to sketch out the painting and think about creating a unique background to capture the day and place. The painting began, I emailed Bridgette to let her know I was working on the piece and that I had some questions for her to answer, I also asked about the man in the photo and if I could contact him for his perspective on the day.

So, here comes the serendipity. Bridgette tracked down Jeff and spoke with him on the phone after not seeing him since Vimy. The call lead to Jeff sharing a video of the day that had been uploaded to YouTube, and Bridgette sharing this information with me, now I was able to enjoy the mood of the day and story behind the photo, as if I had been there myself. What happened that day the photo was taken was an impromptu ‘jam session’ while Indigenous performers and the RCMP Pipes & Drums band were waiting in the wings to perform. Vimy was a pivotal battle which saw Canada and the Allies, including Mi’kmaq soldiers, win an important battle of World War I. This video shows musical artists collaborating, it conveys the spirit of coming together. A coming together on what once was a battlefield, where many lost their lives. A coming together that symbolizes the spirit of reconciliation, likes and not differences, the spirit of love.

The tone of that day was the tone in my studio, and I listened to the ‘jam session’ on loop as I finished the painting. From my studio on Vancouver Island to Sherwood Park, to Cape Breton, to Vimy Ridge in France; thanks to the Internet and technology our miles apart were erased, allowing me to capture the emotion of the day on canvas.

There will be more to this serendipitous story as I work to compile the answers to my questions from both Bridgette and Jeff.

For now, you can enjoy the painting, a little video of my process in creating the painting.

and this fantastic video of the ‘jam session’ that inspired ‘Vimy Jam’.

It was a celebratory Canada 151 indeed! And a great contrast to my experiences painting Canada over the last decade. A new chapter in this serendipitous story influenced by my travels across Canada. For more about the People of Canada Portrait Project visit

Behind The Painting: from inception to creation, the process of making original fine art

 Originally published May 15, 2017

Goalie’s Mask: red, white and Dryden, acrylic on canvas, 2011 on art shipping crates in the studio. Brandy Saturley, Canadian Painter

This is a big year for Canada and a big year for my art career. With one solo exhibition behind me and another on the horizon, I am preparing to share my stories of Canada on canvas hanging in the art galleries and in person. What inspires the art? What am I trying to convey with my paintings? Here I will share the intent behind a few of my most celebrated pieces, and how I feel about the job of the artist and that of the viewer.

Behind the Painting: Is Canada the Goalie of The World? During the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games the city was punctuated by Canadian stereotype and the air thick with smells of maple syrup pride. I came home from the experience with visions of red, maple leaves and hockey. All these experiences zipping across my temporal lobe. I have always loved the works of American painter, Georgia O’ Keeffe. She was known for painting animal skulls on the landscape and in 1931 created a painting featuring a cows skull on a blanket of red, white and blue. The piece represented the enduring American spirit. I began to think about this painting and it began to inspire my own comment on my country, referencing the enduring Canadian spirit. I came to rest on the image of a hockey goalie mask on the iconic Canadian flag. To me, the goalie mask speaks of us standing guard, it is a symbol of resilience and protection. In most cases a masked human, taking the shots and not shooting back, the goalie plays the role of protector and watcher, much like a mother grizzly over her cubs. This painting was the beginning of this body of work, my ‘Canadianisms’, and set me on a journey of realizing the Canadian spirit on canvas.

Saint Kanata, acrylic on canvas, 2011 – Brandy Saturley, Canadian Painter

Behind the Painting: An #ICONICCANUCK

#ICONICCANUCK was the title of my first exhibition of these paintings, as my ‘Canadianisms’ referenced so many icons of Canada, including the landscape and wildlife of the country. The first human icon I painted was, Shania Twain, a celebrated Canadian singer and songwriter and best-selling female country music artist of all time. ‘Saint Kanata’ references the strong and resilient Canadian spirit and the composition for the piece was inspired by the work of famous polish Art Deco painter, Tamara De Lempicka. Lempicka was the first woman artist to be a ‘glamour’ star.

Behind The Painting: With Our Hearts On Our Sleeves

Hearts On Our Sleeves, acrylic on canvas, 2016 – Brandy Saturley, Canadian Painter

‘Hearts On Our Sleeves’ has many influences, but I will begin with the initial intent. When I began thinking about creating this new self-portrait I had an image in my mind, that of ‘Rosie The Riveter’. An iconic war-time poster image, the image did not really hit it’s full stride until it inspired a social movement that increased the number of women in the workforce, and became a symbol of feminism. I wanted to paint a self-portrait for all, but also for Canadian women from all walks and in all professions. As I began painting I came to focus on the eyes and began to see the Mona Lisa on my subliminal horizon, a horizon influenced by the landscapes of Lawren Harris with muted tones and almost abstract forms. The heart on the sleeve quite literal in it’s placement and meaning. As with all art, ultimately what you see is based on your experience, so even though I began with an intent, it becomes your place now to bring your story to the finished piece.

During this half-decade I have found inspiration across the country and through the eyes and minds of the people I have connected with on my travels. We have talked about Canada, about what we love and the future of our great country, of reconciliation, of acceptance, of equality and of protecting the environment. We have talked about what we create and why we create. We have talked about ideas for future collaborations. On each journey I write daily, record video, and photos. Coming home each time to Vancouver Island filled with new ideas about Canada. From the most rural to the grandest; I am cultivating a visual language that is distinctly Canadian.