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Interview with Edmonton Artist Keltie Smith

by Monika Blichar

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.” I heard that quote a long time ago and have always liked it because it reminds me of the one that says “everything happens for a reason”. We all set plans for ourselves, our work, our family, or the way we are supposed to live by the time we are 25 and 75. Sometimes, the universe steps in and changes those plans in ways that are serendipitous-one of my favourite words. (Side note; there is a cafe in New York called Serendipity 3 which was featured in the movie Serendipity-one of my bucket list restaurants. They serve ice cream with edible 23kt gold flakes on it. Andy Warhol used to frequent this cafe a lot too.)

In my next interview with Keltie Smith, exactly this has happened. Had she not been in an accident that left her severely injured, she would not have started painting. She wouldn’t have started to explore art as a passion and career, start to take commissions or be part of our Art World family.

Things do really happen because they are meant to put you where you belong. 

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1-When did you know you wanted to become an artist?

Art has always been a passion of mine. I took Interior Design in Vermilion, Alberta and absolutely loved how creative and inspirational it was. I graduated in 2014 and didn’t have much time to get into the trade because six months after graduating college I was involved in a rollover. It was never a thought to sell my art until the car accident put me on disability for a couple years. I found art therapeutic to my recovery. I received a lot of compliments on what I was doing and had started to receive commissions for pieces I had no idea I could even do but I tried and was successful. It felt almost like fate. Everything that had happened in my life was pointing me towards art. Becoming an artist as a career had kind of just fallen into my lap at that point but I’m ready to take on even more. I’ve put a lot of time and research into learning what it takes and I’m still learning but after all these years, it’s something I’m still very passionate about.
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2-Is anyone in your family artistic?

In my immediate family, no. My parents always questioned where my artistic abilities came from. But both sides have artistic talent somewhere down the line.

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3-You live on an acreage. How does that setting inspire your art practice?

I find I’m massively inspired by my acreage. I’m surrounded by nature and animals. The sunrise and sunset out there are probably one of my favorite things to see. It’s amazing to see what colors the sky can paint. Every day is different and different days bring new inspiration.

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4-What can guests expect to see at your exhibition at Art World Expo Edmonton? (Prints, cards, paintings, merchandise?) Will you have any contests or show specials?

There will be canvas of all different sizes of realistic and abstract acrylic paintings, with prints available of select paintings and drawings. I’ll have binders with pictures of my previous paintings/drawings that guests will be able to place orders of prints as well. Also, I have some small wooden slabs that I’ve treated and decorated that will be for sale.  I’ll be open to accepting commissions as well. I will have an Instagram contest going on for the show, as well as show specials on select items.

5-Where do you see your art business in five years?

I’m hoping to have global reach with my art in five years time. Also hoping to have a work space away from my home, a small studio/gallery that I can practice out of.

6-Just for fun: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

New Zealand because it looks beautiful.

To learn more about Keltie, visit her Instagram! Be sure to get your ticket to the show! It promises to be an evening full of surprises, creativity and best of all, wonderful connections with amazing people. Tickets are available online now, only 101 tickets left! Hurry and get yours today!

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Monika Blichar is an Entrepreneur and Artist. She is owner of Monika’s Art Boutique-Studio & Gallery in North Vancouver and producer of Art World Expo and Painting Dreams International Art Tours. She is always pushing boundaries as an artist and creative entrepreneur. Her love of the arts has been a part of her life since childhood.

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Interview with Edmonton based artist Frances Pelletier

Frances Pelletier is an artist from Edmonton who is showing and selling her work at Art World Expo Edmonton on March 16 at the Muttart Conservatory. We caught up with her today to learn more about her work, meaning and goals.

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What’s your background?

My background probably has the most influence on my art today. I was born in 1965 and raised in Edmonton, AB.  Growing up, I was exposed to photography, music, writing, painting, and singing.  My family is very artistic/musical.  My dad introduced me to oil painting at an early age.  I finished 3 paintings I believe.  Then I assume my piano lessons took over.  I don’t remember painting again until my late teens.  This time it was watercolors that I dabbled with on my own.  One work is really all that came of it.  A lighthouse that is hanging in my parent’s home.

Dad was a photographer and he would take me on road trips in the countryside to take photos of old houses and barns.  It was quite an adventure.  I would climb around in these old buildings and pose for pictures in doors and up high in windows.  Visits to my uncle’s farm every summer were great fun, too.  My uncle had granaries full of old treasures (not grain!).  At the top of the hill we could visit a huge array of old cars.  A car graveyard.  Rural scenes, old cars and old buildings are now a favorite subject for me to paint!

Growing up in Edmonton gave me an appreciation for city life.  It might sound odd, but I happen to really like the look of oil refineries.  They were practically in our backyard!  At night the lights look so pretty.  I hope to do a painting that flatters the refineries.  One day.  Bussing it to university every day, I got to see the river valley, cross over a lot of bridges and take in all the high rises of the city. I guess this is why I also like to paint cityscapes.

After completing my BA Special in Criminology at the U of A, I was unable to obtain work in this field.  Marriage and children happened instead.  What a blessing!  My husband, Mark, and I moved to his home town of Legal, AB.  Mark returned to farming and we moved out of town and raised 4 children.  I really had no time or space for art as the kids were growing up.

Fast forward 30 years to 2017.  I am not sure how it really happened, I just decided to buy a cheap acrylic paint set at Walmart and try my hand at painting again.  Since I have no formal art training I turned to YouTube and discovered I could learn quite a lot from some of the tutorials!  Living on the farm gives me so many photo opportunities which in turn develop into art.  My “art heart” is torn between city and country life.Let's Take a Walk - Frances Pelletier (1).jpg

What does your work aim to say?

I aim to show the beauty in whatever I am painting.  I like to paint realistically in most cases.  I’m a stickler for rules and laws, a “by the book” kind of person.  I believe that’s why I like to paint things true to their likeness.  Basically, a painting should look like what it represents.  That’s how I’ve always felt.  Impressionism and abstract art seem difficult for me to comprehend and even harder to create! However, I am trying to grow my style by taking a few art classes and painting subjects that are out of my comfort zone.

My paintings of old buildings, cars and rural scenery are an attempt on my part to capture what is fading away in the countryside.  Eventually, all the old houses, homesteads, cars and machinery will disappear, to be replaced by new homes, modern cars and farm equipment.  We can never go back.  It’s kind of sad, but the past will live on in my artwork.Awaiting the Storm - Frances Pelletier (1).jpg

Who are your biggest influences?

I would say that I am inspired and influenced the most by my Dad and my sister. Dad, because he photographed and painted a variety of subjects from the countryside and from the city.  And of course, he introduced me to painting early in life.  He’s supportive and encouraging in all my artistic endeavors.  And my sister, what can I say…she inspires me because her art is so unique and unstructured.  She works with mixed media and where my work is quite detailed and controlled her art can be abstract and freeing!   Sometimes we work together in her studio and I learn so much!  Techniques, mediums and enthusiasm!

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How have you developed your career?

My “career” is pretty short, having just got going in March of 2017.  I’m pretty prolific and spend quite a bit of time in my studio.  At first, I did a few art walks in St. Albert.  It’s there that I was introduced to Instagram.  Thanks Karen!  I learned about The Art from the Unknown from my sister.  That was a great experience.  Rachel Notley does a geat job with that show!  I sold my first 2 paintings to people other than friends and family! I also joined the VASA (Visual Arts Studio Association) gallery and took part in an exhibition this past December. I started up my website (www.fdp-artworks.com).  There are all sorts of opportunities if you spend some time searching the internet.  I will be the feature artist at the Dow Centennial Center’s Alberta Lottery Fund Art Gallery in Fort Saskatchewan, AB during the month of July.  I’ll have about 25 paintings hanging there.  Instagram connected me with The Art World Expo in Edmonton.  I just want to grow and expand, connect with other artists and let it happen!

Where do you want to go with your art?

I guess I would like to continue to expand my art to include other mediums besides acrylic.  Watercolor is something I would really like to experiment with.  I want to get my name out there.  It will be a challenge since I live in a somewhat remote area.  The idea of Studio visits appeals to me, but again, my location poses a challenge.  Being surrounded by open space is appealing, though.  I’d like to keep my artwork affordable, but if one day a big gallery takes an interest my work I wouldn’t turn down any opportunity!  I want to continue to paint what appeals to me and not get caught up in just trying to please everyone else.

 

To learn more about Frances, visit her website HERE

 

Interview with Edmonton based artist Mr. Patrick Ennis

by Monika Blichar

Every once in a while, I come across an artist that is both proficient in marketing and creation. Let me tell you, this is not a common denominator in the Art World! When I do happen to find an artist who is steadfast about his or her career and is taking hold of all angles of business as much as he or she is creating, it gets me excited! One of the many things that we at Art World try to teach artists is that they need to be their own advocate for their art and really be their own brand ambassador. Mr. Patrick Ennis is doing just that and we are thrilled to have him be one of the artists in our Edmonton show on March 16.

Today, I caught up with Mr. Patrick Ennis whom I hear is a staple in the Edmonton art scene. Here’s what he had to say!

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1-When did you start making art?

I have  been painting 14 years and have made about 3000 paintings, had dozens of art shows across Canada as well as participated in a T.V show called “Painting with Pat”. I have worked with  many people over the years,  including being an artist in residence  at the Lotus Art Galley and Isbe Domain Gallery . I received formal training from the last Poet Laureate of Ottawa the Honorable Patrick White.

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2-You are working full time on your art. What kinds of things do you do daily to be able to turn your art into a full time career?
When I start my day doing work, I usually pre-paint the canvas and draw out the sketch. I try and get to work in the mornings, and spend the afternoon networking and advertising.
3-A lot of your work has reference to the universe. What draws you to painting this subject matter so often in your work?
I have always been fascinated with space, it’s kinda the Biggest thing in the universe, and the mother of life and creation. I also look for similarities in life, like patterns that replicate like the way trees grow like veins,or the universe existing on a microscopic level.
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4-What kinds of pieces will you have at the Art World Expo Edmonton? Will you be offering any show specials or contests at your exhibition?
I am going to have a variety of paintings at the Edmonton Art Expo, from still life to surrealism, and landscapes. I find people take creativity more seriously if you can also paint realistic art.
5-What has been the most interesting thing about being an artist so far on your journey?
The most interesting thing about being an artist is it’s always different. Everyday the possibilities are endless. To quote Einstein “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited.”
6-If you could achieve anything with your work, what would be your dream within your art business?
I have always enjoyed the responses to my art the most.  Having people have their minds blown by creating illusions of perspectives that can’t exist in the physical universe, but can be created using art. I often merge realities like people swimming in nebula. Art is very subjective to the person viewing it and the real mystery is that people can have different emotional responses to the same painting.
To learn more about Patrick, visit his Facebook page HERE. Get your tickets to the event today! Limited number remain!

 

Big Eyes, Pouty Lips An Interview with Nicci Battilana (a.k.a. Nicci Dot C A)

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by Aly Laube

About: Nicci Battilana, also known as Nicci Dot C A, is a mixed media artist who creates colourful and playful portraits of what she calls her “Girlz”. The Girlz are doll-like characters with bold features, and each has their own quirky (and sometimes outlandish) personality. Nicci’s work can be seen on greeting cards, prints, clothing, bags, mailboxes, doors, and more! For this reason, she calls her work “functional art”. You can see or purchase some of Nicci’s functional art at this year’s Art World Expo!

 

When did you first start doodling what would eventually become your “My Girlz” collection?

I have dabbled in doodling pretty much since I could clutch onto a crayon, but the focus on “My Girlz” began in the very expressive mid-to-late eighties. They started out as very simplistic and angular, and were expressed in dark, earthy colours (due to the available art supplies at the time). It was nothing like my curvy Spring-coloured Girlz of today!

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Why did you choose to sell your products as prints and greeting cards? 

I used to paint on stretched canvases all the time, but they began to take over our home a couple of years ago. My good friend and fellow artist, Violette Clark, suggested that I begin working out of an art journal. This was a great way for me to experiment and expand my work, besides saving space in my home! However, I missed sharing my work with others, so I started making prints & greeting cards of my favourite journal paintings. What better way to share art with your loved ones than with a fun, cheerful, cheeky card from a local artist?

How do you create separate personalities for each of your “Girlz”? 

They tell me what and who they want to be. I never plan my work, as my Girlz are meant to evolve from within. I just begin with light and pencil-drawn circles and somehow see them peeking out at me. Imagine looking into a mirror that is foggy from the shower steam. Staring into that mirror as the fog clears, you slowly see your own face emerge in the frame. That is similar to how my Girlz introduce themselves to me.

Your work is slightly reminiscent of childhood toys such as Barbies and Bratz. What inspired you in your childhood that might’ve lead to your art today?

I loved Jim Henson’s Muppets as a child (and still do!) because of the idea that grown adults could “play” for a living. Carrying some of the best aspects of childhood throughout our lives while making others happy; Who wouldn’t want that? I was also inspired by the band Duran Duran’s RIO cover when I was a teenager. It was a famous art portrait by Nagel, and the female face really pulled me in. To me, the eyes are the key!

As for toys, I remember when Bratz first hit the shelves. I was so happy! I thought, “Wow, someone else out there speaks my language” (big eyes, full, pouty lips,  and heads a little too big for their britches)!

What’s your best seller? 

Lately it has been the Girlz that have a bit of an otherworldly feel and some tongue-and-cheek humour, as though they are visiting from a different realm.

How would you describe your artistic style? 

I say it’s “mixed media with no rules”, but maybe the true definition should be something along the lines of  “a mix of Disney-like female characters, drenched in Kool-Aid, with a dash of Tim Burton and a whole lot of thick, black eyeliner!”

Can you tell the story of how you first started painting on clothing? 

As a new artist and high school student with no money to buy stretched canvases, I decided to become my very own walking art gallery. I have a closet full of my old hand-painted jean jackets, pants, and (of course) bags! Since I haven’t worn a painted jacket in a few years, I’ve recently taken my sewing scissors to a few and turned them into wrist-let bags. There are some jackets that I just can’t bring myself to re-invent, though.

What is “functional art” and why do you like creating it?

Functional art is art that can be used in for variety of functions (i.e.: clothing, hand bags, greeting cards, doors, mail boxes, etc). Some people stop seeing the art that they loved enough to hang on their wall just because they’re used to it being there. It becomes invisible. Functional art is moved. It’s used, so it continues to live.

Which mediums do you use to create your art?  

Acrylic paint is my number one favourite medium. Next, I love using Caran D’ache watercolour crayons with my fingertips. They’re a great tool for bringing my acrylic art to life! Plus, dare I call glitter a medium? I do use it a lot less than I used to, but I still love it, along with Swarovski crystals. All Girlz need a little bling, even the creepy ones.

How did having children change your life as a person and an artist? 

My art was a hobby before we had our son. By day I worked in a cubicle, hated it (I loved most of my co-workers but hated the desk job), punched the time clock, and then would come home to paint and be happy. After we had our son and my maternity leave was over, we decided to raise him to believe that you can do what you love in life and succeed at it. So we tightened our money belts and have been sticking to our plans ever since! I’ve taken a couple of short part-time jobs to bring in some steady income over the years, but we always come back to centre. I have a wonderfully supportive husband, which enables me to be here for our son, create and teach art, and host “Into the heART” art retreats and “Creative Finds” markets. If everyone could just do what makes them happy for a living, it would be a wonderful world.

Can you tell us more about your event, Creative Finds Marketplace?

Our Creative Finds Marketplace is in it’s ninth year and filled with so much local talent! We focus on local, handmade, quality items and take a lot of pride in that. Plus, we do our best to treat our vendors and customers as members of the Creative Finds family. We’re there to support each other and do what we can to bring the artists together with the community that desires their product.

Since next year is our tenth anniversary, we added a new element this year. We’re welcoming vendors that specialize in offering art/craft supplies (with the exception of high import companies). We will soon be known for hosting events that showcase all of the creative levels of our fabulous community!

You do a fair bit of charity work. What are some of your favourite causes to support? 

Honestly, I love working with many local charities, but the one that pulls at my heart strings and brings me back again and again is the BC Children’s Hospital. We’ve had to spend some time at Children’s over the years and they have been very supportive of our family and many others.

Where can people find your work? 

The best place to start is on my website! You can make a note of my upcoming events or where to shop online. I will be taking part in the Fraser Valley Art Crawl on Thursday August 13th from 6-9pm. Other than that, I do have Glitzy Galz greeting cards available at Wild Child Tattoos & Hair in Surrey (19228 96 Ave, Surrey, BC), as well as at the Sugar Shack on Vancouver Island (4492 Happy Valley Road, Metchosin, BC).

What will you be selling at the expo? 

I have a few canvases that I am creating specifically for this great event! These Glitzy Galz will be full of whimsy and ready to go to their new homes at the end of the evening.

I will also have a mailbox that is ready to enhance the entrance to someone’s home, a wide array of my art prints, and packages of my Glitzy Galz greeting card line.

Thank you for spending a little time with me and I look forward to meeting you all in person on May 1st  at the Expo!

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Visit Nicci’s website at:

www.nicci.ca

Bringing New Meaning to “Language Arts”

An Interview with Cristina Petersen

by Alyssa Laube

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.