Pushing Past the Limit-An Interview with Autumn Blake

By Alyssa Laube

Autumn Blake Puakai (1) Autumn Blake Robot (1)

About: Autumn Blake is a freelance makeup artist and married mother of two from the TriCity area. Her passion is creating unique and interesting characters with her skills, but she is currently dabbling in a little bit of everything, from fashion and beauty to film and body painting. She will be showcasing her work in this year’s body painting competition at the Art World Expo.


How would you describe your work as a makeup artist?

My enthusiasm in the industry works strongly with the creative side of makeup artistry. I strive to create something that captivates the eye. I apply that drive to my makeup; be it fashion on the runway, special effects (my favourite), or a full character makeup.

How were you trained in makeup?

I was professionally trained at Blanche Macdonald Centre in the Global Makeup Program (and graduated on January 16th of this year), so I learned everything from everyday makeup and bridal to special effects and character makeups.

Many of your pieces seem to have an alien-like look to them. Is this the look you aim for, and why do you like to create it?

Though I really do enjoy science fiction characters, I feel as if I just truly enjoy freedom in creativity. Creating without restriction can result in some amazing pieces. That freedom makes the art push past the limit of natural world ideas, which is why the characters sometimes come off as alien.

Where do you get inspiration for your pieces?

I get inspiration everywhere! One week it could be comic books and video games and the next it could be organics and nature.

How does your makeup style for yourself compare to the one you use on your work?

My makeup style for myself is the complete opposite! It’s usually very subtle and natural, whereas my work is generally more bold and colourful.

What’s your favourite makeup design trend, or even time period?

I am a huge fan of the art style in folklore and fantasy, though I am still a huge sucker for winged liner and red lips!

What are you hoping to accomplish at this year’s expo?

I’m hoping to push my abilities, create something new and different, and share my and other artist’s work.

To view more of Autumn’s work, visit: https://www.facebook.com/autumnsmakeupandhair?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Bringing New Meaning to “Language Arts”

An Interview with Cristina Petersen

by Alyssa Laube



About: After returning to her home town of Vancouver after 14 years, Cristina Petersen now works as a painter and ESL instructor at the University of British Columbia. She is new to showing her work, and looks forward to developing and improving as an artist.


As a newcomer to the Art World Expo, what are you expecting?


I am expecting to talk and connect with a lot of like-minded people, and to have fun being involved in such a great and vibrant event! I hope to sell some work, but I think that just being there is a step towards even considering myself as a real artist.


You are new to showing your art. How did you decide to do that, and what was your experience like?


I was encouraged by Monika to do more art and to get it out there, but also met a local artist in my neighbourhood named Marty Andaluz. I worked with him to have my first art show, along with two of my friends, who are also new to art. We had fun organizing it together at a local café, Room for Cream on Kingsway. It also helped to have encouragement from my fiancé, Tom, as well as family and friends who support this new adventure of mine.


You’re juggling two jobs – as an artist, of course, but also as an instructor at UBC! What is that like for you?


It’s very difficult to find time sometimes to paint, as teaching is a very demanding job. I love teaching and it is my priority of course, but I try to paint on weekends or when I feel inspired.


You’ve mentioned that you love to write. What do you enjoy writing? Have you ever considered this as a career?


I like to write blogs sometimes for my work. They are about teaching. Writing is just a fun way to express myself about things I’m passionate about. I have toyed with the idea of going into editing as I have a keen eye for errors, having taught ESL for about 13 years now. But ultimately, I am very social and think that being a writer might be too isolated for me…perhaps something later in life! I am always open to trying new things.


Do you think being in Ecuador will be an artistic inspiration for you?


Yes of course, traveling is always an inspiration. New experiences are what keep things fresh.


How has working as an artist affected your work as an instructor, and vice versa?


I am not sure that it has affected my work as an instructor, but sometimes I feel like teaching language is a very creative job. When I am in the classroom, I can create a mood or focus on certain things, much like painting. Although with my job, there are administrative duties that sometimes zap my creative side and make me wish I were just able to paint!


What subject(s) do you teach?


I teach English as an additional language. I teach in different programs all the time, so sometimes I teach in the Intensive English Program, (IEP) or the English for Academic Purposes (EAP), the English for the Global Citizen (EGC) or Explore (with French Canadians). I teach all the skills, but if teaching IEP or EAP I usually try to pick the Speaking and Listening classes or writing courses. I like teaching Speaking because I like to facilitate discussions, teach presentation skills etc. Writing essays is a bit of an art form too. I have always loved to write as well.


You work in acrylics. What makes you choose it?


Mostly because they are forgiving and easy to clean, as I usually paint in my apartment, so I have to set up everything and take it all down at the end. Cleaning brushes etc. is way easier. I also like to add water or Gesso, sometimes crackle paste for variety as they mix well. I can add oil on top if I want more texture later.



What are the most important things in your life?


Things or people? *laughs* My fiancé, my family, my friends, my dog… but aside from that, being a given, I love horseback riding and skiing; those are the two hobbies that I am passionate about. I try to stay healthy by exercising and eating healthy, delicious food. I enjoy a good glass of red wine, living a simple life, and travelling when I can to explore the world – particularly foreign places where I don’t speak the language. I’ve been studying Spanish off an on for about 10 years.


Do you have any significant goals for the future?


Well, I am getting married next June, so my fiancé and I are planning our wedding. We are saving money right now and also hoping to take our honeymoon in Ecuador. Hopefully sell more art to help fundraise.


Can you think of a particular moment or person that inspired you to become an artist?


My half-sister Dana loves to paint and is really quite talented. I think she will surpass my skills! I bought her a painting lesson almost 3 years ago with Monika and went with her. This was my first painting lesson too, and ever since then, with Monika’s encouragement, I have kept painting. I have always loved art and art galleries too. I think it was always in me, but it was a matter of being in the right head space to pull it out. And to have that initial “ah ha!” moment, like “Wow, that was really fun, I want to do more of that!” Now I am older and have found my path as an instructor, so I feel like expanding my horizons and trying new things. Learn new skills. Be creative. Always grow as a person.


Do you find that, on a bad day, painting can make you feel better?


Yes, of course. It is very calming and therapeutic. You can lose yourself in the art and not worry about anything else. Although I have to tell myself sometimes not to be a perfectionist. I like to paint with bigger brush strokes and more abstract style on days where I need a release.


Is there a specific technique that you like to use or find interesting?


I love work by Dali, it’s so weird and crazy, as well as work by the Group of Seven. I really like abstract scenery and more free flowing brush strokes. Not really schooled in art, so not sure of any specific techniques, but I know I am still experimenting and learning a lot.


How do you hope to improve as an artist?


I hope to improve my ability to draw or paint specific features like eyes, noses and mouths. I also hope to let go of my own criticism of my own work. I have to accept that not all pieces turn out quite how I envision them, but sometimes that is the beauty of it.

Unexpected Beauty

An Interview with Robyn Marshall

By Alyssa Laube


About: Robyn Marshall is a multi-talented artist who’s goal is “to bring beauty to the disturbing and awareness to the misunderstood.” She was raised in Ottawa, Ontario and now lives with her family in Chilliwack, British Columbia. As a full-time artist and stay-at-home mom, her life’s focus is on her children and business, Robyn Byrd Design.


You seem to like to focus on darker subjects and to give them exposure. What about the unusual, hidden, and forgotten interests you and inspires you to create art?

I’ve always preferred and been drawn the the unusual, darker things in life. I was an inner city missionary for over 3 years. I think you have to have a heart for the hidden and forgotten in order to help the homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes etc.

It’s that same heart that I use to create my art. To create things out of the normal, not cookie-cutter, but things that take you a second to think. It’s similar to how I so wished people would take a second to think and care about the homeless.


These words also evoke thoughts of political and social issues. Is that something you

involve yourself in as an artist?

As a missionary I was extremely involved. It’s what drove me to try and get people to be more aware and help the helpless. As an artist, I’ve donated paintings and help raise money for charities.

If you wanted to dig even deeper, you could say that my “PS-Portraits and Silhouettes” collection is a derivative of this. Where some of the paintings have no faces, or a majority of their eyes are closed. I think I was so drawn to paint this series because it best reflects society’s response to the homeless and helpless. The face is what draws you in and helps you read people, so if a person in a painting has no face or it’s just their silhouette, are they still a person? These are some of the questions I hope people have when viewing this series.


Are there any political/social events that have had an impact on you recently, creatively or otherwise?

 The 2010 Olympics had a big impact on me. It broke my heart to see our province pour so much time and money into the event when I know how all of that money could help the less fortunate.

I find, as a whole society, we have forgotten about the people next door to us. It’s easier to have empathy for the orphan babies of Africa or the survivors of major natural disasters as apposed to the people on Main and Hastings Street. We have a prejudice which leads us to believe that, because they are homeless, they somehow chose to be; That they are accepting this lifestyle and don’t want it to change.


Are you with any philanthropic foundations or companies?

I was a missionary with YWAM “Youth With A Mission”  and I served with them here in Vancouver, Tijuana, and Atalanta, Georgia.


You aim to takes societys conventions and turn(s) them upside down. Do you do this simply to cause controversy, to cause the audience to question themselves, etc.?

I do it to challenge people; To cause people to think for themselves and to question the everyday status quo.


How do you go about doing the above?

I think that I accomplish that simply by being a young, female artist who prefers to paint skulls instead of pretty landscapes.


Are the ideas conveyed by your artwork necessarily and consistently your own individual opinion, or do you like to expand on foreign opinions and concepts?

I think it’s a bit of both. My opinions and outlooks on life have been majorly moulded and formed by worldly concepts. I try not to live by “western” ideals and concepts where it’s every man for himself and to do anything for the all-mighty dollar. I’ve learned and been exposed to too much about the world as a whole to remain sheltered and naive. I hope my art reflects that.


How have your experiences in life formed your identity as an artist today?

My life has been so diverse in itself. From being a hairdresser in Ottawa, to a missionary in Atlanta and now a full-time artist in British Columbia, I’ve never settled on one way of living. This is directly represented in my art. Not one style is the same. Not one medium is the same. My collection of work varies just like my life has.


What began your interest with medical texts? How did you indulge that interest?

I was obsessed with Leonardo DaVinci growing up. My earliest memories are of reading about how he would rob graves and use the cadavers as references for his drawings. He drastically changed medicine of that day by being able to provide illustrations of how the human body works.

Because of this, at age of 8 or 9, all I wanted to do when I grew up was illustrate medical textbooks. So, as an adult, I decided to live a form of this dream by drawing oversized medical illustrations.


How long does it take you to complete an average medical piece?

This all depends on my children. Being a stay-at-home mom and artist means finding a balance between drawing and raising my children. Ideally, each one takes about a week – about 20-25 hours of work total.

I draw them on pieces of paper hung on my kitchen wall. My days are often spent drawing while my children play with Play-Doh at the kitchen table.


Now that you are creating them, what do you find is your favourite thing about it?

I love everything about them. The sheer fact that I am living an almost 20 year-old dream from when I was a little girl is amazing. That, and the size. I love working in these large scales. I’ve had to develop different techniques and I love every second of it.


Each type of art you do must be drastically different. How do you use these forms to create different feelings? Which is your favourite right now?

Yes they are all quite different. I love the soft tones and values of watercolour. They provide a sense of vulnerability that I find appealing. My large scale medical illustrations are bold and “in your face”. They call for your attention. They force you to address them.These two rotate between my favourite styles, depending on my feelings that day.


You were raised in Ottowa, Ontario. How did the culture there affect your development, personally and artistically?

I think that growing up in such a culturally diverse city helped shape my outlook on the world as well as my art. I was exposed to so many amazing varieties of arts and cultures, it’s hard to not have it affect you.


Could you tell the story of how you began working with large-scale acrylics?

It was a high school art project. I built, stretched and painted my first 5 foot painting and I fell in love. I continued with them for many years. I liked how it involved my whole body, how it was therapeutic to be able to whirl my arms around freely.


There is a reoccurring appearance of skulls and bone in your work. What is the meaning behind them to you, and why do focus on it in your work?

I’ve always been drawn to skulls and things that are macabre. I like the reminder that death is close, so live for the day. Fulfill your dreams today and don’t wait. We don’t know how long we have and tomorrow may never come. It’s a reminder to live without regret and to seize the day.


What is your goal as an artist, in the present and future?

My goal is just to continue to draw and paint and put my art out there. By doing so, I have since been published in a collaborative art book, and now i’m able to be featured in this event. If people like what I do and it resonates with them, great! I don’t make art for other people or with the thought of “will this sell?”. I paint what moves me in that time and stay true to myself.


To learn more about Robyn and Robyn Byrd Design, visit http://www.robynbyrddesign.com/



The Pioneering Spirit-An Interview with West Coast Artist, Susan Galick

The Pioneering Spirit

An Interview with West Coast Artist, Susan Galick

By Alyssa Laube



About: Susan Galick describes herself as a fun-loving lady with a passion for life, family and friends. She aims to live each and every day to it’s fullest and is happily devoted to the things she loves to do most – painting, music, art, and all things creative!


How long have you been involved in art?

I have been involved in some sort of art my entire life from sewing, knitting, needlecraft, tole painting, fashion design, stained glass, wood burning, chocolate making, cake decorating, handcrafts of all types, soap making – anything and everything creative. I could never watch television.


How has your life changed since you’ve become a professional artist?

At this point in my life I am now able to spend more time creating art.  Being able to paint every day is the biggest change for me.


Many of your paintings seem to be set in B.C. What is it about our province that inspires you?

B.C. is gorgeous and I think that we take it for granted just how beautiful our province is from the coast to the Okanagan to the Kootenays and to northern B.C. I spent 9 years living in the caribou where my husband and I raised our 2 sons on a pristine lake.  For me, I always need to be near the water, whether it be a lake or the ocean. Although I prefer the ocean as it is forever changing.  I have been blessed to have lived by the water for pretty much my entire life from the ocean, to rivers to lakes. Water inspires me.


Which area of Vancouver has been your favourite to paint?



Have you ever painted scenes from a different province or country?

Yes, I have painted the U.S., Mexico and Europe. I hope to travel more in the future as my duties as a Mom and Grandmother are reduced as the kids get older.  My life revolves around my family.


What is your favourite thing/place to paint?

“Working boats’, street scenes, character buildings and vehicles.


What is your biggest challenge as an artist?

My biggest challenge is trusting myself and my own style and retaining that loose, unique style.  I do not wish to become a ‘tight painter’.


Do you think your personality is shown through your work? How so?

Yes, I believe it does. In fact I was just told this last night by a very established, famous local artist. I look at life with a positive outlook, no matter which trials we have to go through, and I have had my share…I strive to be happy and paint happy paintings.


Some of your paintings seem to be “blurred”. Could you explain what draws you to this technique?

I love loose, painterly strokes. My favourite artists are those than can portray what they are trying to say in as few strokes as possible along with light being a focus. Ken Auster is one of my favourite artists. I strive to create a focal point and add more tight detail in that area then blur out the background with loose strokes.


What is it about painting boats that you enjoy?

I just love the lines of boats, especially ‘working’ boats with character.  I grew up on the water fishing with my father and have spent a great deal of my life near the ocean.


How do you know when you’ve found something you would like to paint?

When I get really excited and I cannot get it out of my head, I know i’d like to paint it.  No words can describe the scene and I want to share it by painting whatever it may be that excites me at the time.


How do you stay inspired?

That is a difficult question.  “Stuff” happens in everyday life which interferes with my ability to get inspired. When that happens I go to my “Beach Box” – my wonderful home on the ocean in Sooke. It sits on Juan de Fuca Strait. Here is the link and I think you will understand as the photos will explain more than my words.



Are there any other artists who have played a significant role in your development as a painter? If so, who?

Yes, after I lost my husband of 39 years to cancer I forced myself to go to an art school “open house.”  I had always wanted to paint and it was the local, talented Carmel Clare that I first met.  She is the main reason that I am where I am.  She is now my mentor, one of my best friends and my inspiration.


Do you sell every piece you finish?

I’m not sure how to answer that. In general, yes, I suppose I eventually do. Some take longer than others but some I give away to friends or family.  For me it’s not about the money but for the enjoyment of painting. If someone gets excited when they see one of my paintings and just has to have it, that’s what is the most enjoyable for me. My favourite painting, personally, was my one of my Gastown paintings. It sold quickly so I felt like I did not get to enjoy it for long in my own gallery.


What was your first piece?

My first piece was an abstract water drop painting.  I had it hanging in our bathroom while we put our home up for sale in White Rock.  Sarah Daniels used to be the traffic/weather lady for BCTV and a realtor.  She fell in love with my painting and phoned me up to ask if I would sell it.  That was my first painting and my first sale.


What is it like to have your own studio?

It’s a dream come true for me. I can go downstairs and paint any time of the day or night that I want and I am my own boss which is very important to me.


How has owning your own studio changed how you personally, creatively, and professionally?

Owning my own studio forces me to take my art seriously.  Previously, I used to think that I had to take care of my family, house, many gardens, etc. before I could settle down and paint.  I felt that painting was secondary to the rest of my work.  Owning my own studio makes me realize that this is my job now and I can paint anytime of day, get it done and the rest can be secondary.


How to you hope to grow as an artist?

Last night I joined a local art group with their goal being to form a West Coast Guild. I hope to learn from these accomplished artists and to be able to contribute my expertise as well, whether it be my ability to bring joy and happiness to others or to help mentor young people. I have 5 grand kids who mean the world to me and I try to be an inspiration to them as well.


What are you hoping to accomplish at this year’s art expo?

I am hoping to meet new people outside of my world, expose myself to new experiences, hopefully sell a few pieces, and network with others.


Do you have a motto, or any advice you’d like to give budding artists?

I have been through a lot in the past few years.  My perfect, idyllic life that my husband and I worked so hard to obtain was literally turned upside down when my husband got cancer and consequently passed aways 14 months later.  My family and I were devastated.  My favourite quote is, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today a gift”.  That is how I try to live my life.  I have always tried to live each and every day to its fullest.  I have a strong faith that has taken me through so much and blessed me with so much.  My advice to my kids and others is that if you really want something, we are blessed to lived in a country where anything is possible if you have the passion, drive, and ambition to get what you want. It’s true!

Through the Peep Hole



To learn more about Susan and her work, you can visit http://www.susangalick.com/

She can be contacted at (778)-879-7273 or susan.k.galick@gmail.com


Can you believe that our 5th anniversary is coming up in just 10 short months?


We are so excited about the event and we cannot wait until our special edition event on May 1, 2015!

As always, we are looking for amazing artist exhibitors, body painting competitors, fashion designers, and entertainers to join our event! Applications for artists, body painters, and arts related business exhibitors are ready and can be downloaded at the application on our site: Exhibitor Information