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July 20, 2010

The Messy Masterpieces In us All

Today I interviewed an artist who is originally from West Vancouver but now resides on the island and who I'll write a feature on for Aqua Magazine`s September/October issue.  I'm going to keep her name secret. But, one of my favorite things about being a reporter/writer is being able to drop in to people's lives. She lived in Europe for 10 years, was a textile designer and began with her husband their own graphic design studio out of Vancouver.

Her husband has been building their dream house for about 10 years. It's on 25 acres and the view from the top of the steep gravel driveway looks clear out across the ocean to Mount Baker, with the San Juans bumping up against the sky. Greenhouse. Gardens. Ponds. She describes him as the kind of guy who can take apart a Jaguar and when it`s completely put back together there`s only one screw that`s different than what he started with. Blessed be they!
You enter the house from the back and the door is a big horizontal slab that tilts to let you in. Her painting table just inside the door is chock full of the splatter of acrylic paints and it`s actually like being outside because of the house design. One side of the house is complete. There's a massive patio in the middle and then the other side where the bedrooms will be is just framed.

Farther up the hill is a little graphics studio with a security code for access. She still works as a graphic artist and it has only been in the past two years where the creative necessity has burst out of her that she's been able to work on paintings.

She mentioned taking a course from someone named Nicholas Wilton at Esalen. How fantastic would that be to go there for a little creative retreat?

The thing that I absolutely loved was her visual journals. There`s that little voyeur coming out of me again. Part interior design samples. Part nature quantified. Photos of bones, the way her sandpaper has been coloured after scraping the wood she paints on, shells, bones, a bag of chinese lantern plants tucked away until her muse, her intuition, weave them into one of her paintings.
She says she never knows what will come out. It's a very intuitive process and she describes herself a bit like an archaelogist, historian, unearthing artefacts from her memories, experiences, from the past and then having them arrive on the canvas with reoccurring shapes, colours, lines. She then sands and etches, scratching away at the surface until surprises from previous layers pop up to remind her of the next step in a painting that could have version upon version the way we, as individuals, as the days fold over us, transform from who we were to who we are in a process that stops only with mortality as the edge of our very own messy masterpiece.

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