It wasn’t until the mid-90’s that I decided to get serious about my painting. I was at the Sooke Fine Arts show and was gobsmacked by a large Jimmy Wright painting. Jimmy really is the reason I paint. I started painting like crazy, and when a friend asked me to share a creative space with her on Herald Street, I jumped at the chance. A year later, I closed my business and was painting full time.
Can you put words to your creative process? Layer after layer, after layer, after layer … slowly, my paintings come to life. Patience, trust and respect of the process is most important. One consistent thought I have is to paint what I ache for, nothing less. I always paint mid-morning, there’s always coffee and music and the studio is always messy. I paint most days until I feel the creative energy drain, usually no more than four hours.
How do you approach a blank canvas? When you create every day, it’s easy to get comfortable, and I’m not good in that place. I think that in order to stay relevant and thrive, you must reinvent, take chances and evolve. Terry Cody, an old artist friend of mine (sadly deceased), gave me some wonderful advice back in my early days. When faced with a blank canvas, “just fuckin’ attack it,” he said. Those words come through clearly when I need them. There is nothing more exhilarating and fulfilling for me than the very first stroke of colour on a fresh white canvas. That moment never fails to offer a certain freedom, liberation, and there’s always a small twinge of fear to confirm that I’m bang-on.
Tell us about some of the destination art retreats you offer and how they came to be. Years ago, I was asked to teach a painting course to a small group in France. Shortly after agreeing to do it, the contact literally disappeared and the plans fell through. What lingered in me was the excitement of working with a small group in a beautiful place. I knew I didn’t want to teach painting in the traditional sense, but rather offer an exceptionally inspired space and time in which people could find the freedom to create. What I was not prepared for was the intensely rich experiences we would have, year after year. I work with a team of my best friends to find beautiful locations, prepare gorgeous meals, listen to music, bring in a little yoga and movement, some good wine and lots of laughter. Oh yeah, and we paint. Our next retreat is in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, February 2018.
Where would be your dream retreat destination? My dream destination would be in Beaune, France with my dear friend, Laura Bradbury and her lovely new liver. We had a retreat planned a few years back but due to Laura’s declining health at the time, we had to cancel. Laura received a liver transplant last spring and is growing stronger each day. It’s on our bucket list — fingers crossed!
Tell us about your gallery representation and why that works for your art practice. I have very strong relationships with my galleries and I’m so thankful for the work they do. It’s a true partnership that allows me complete freedom in creative direction and it opens doors for my work around the world. I’m still with my very first gallery, Adele Campbell Fine Art in Whistler. Sixteen years now, with a large solo exhibit every February.