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!
To learn more about Susan and her work, you can visit http://www.susangalick.com/
She can be contacted at (778)-879-7273 or firstname.lastname@example.org