Arden Rose creates art inspired by her truth, where her vulnerability and knowledge of true-self become her power.
Arden Rose and Zoey
Victoria artist Arden Rose paints vibrant, whimsical florals, landscapes and portraits manifested by her knowledge of true-self. Growing up in Kamloops, Rose and her family moved to Victoria, British Columbia when she was fifteen. She completed high school in Victoria as well as an Economics degree at the University of Victoria. Rose also completed a MBA from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Her economic and business background are far across the academic spectrum from her art practice today, where Rose’s talent and unique point-of-view emerge on canvas from a self-taught artist’s perspective. Rose took the creative leap about ten years ago, balancing her part-time employment for a software company with pursuing her career as an artist creating, marketing and selling her work. Rose credits an online course she continues to work through with fellow artists from around the globe, Artists Who Thrive, with giving her the courage and insight to practice art from her knowledge of true-self. Rose says this course has significantly changed her life. However, she admits that it has been emotionally excruciating, forcing her to intimately examine the three most painful and joyful moments in life in pursuit of finding her guiding truth.
Rose’s mission as an artist is to her permit her vulnerability, and to speak from her mind, soul, and heart. Rose’s true-self is beautifully wrought in her paintings, particularly her portraits. Inspired by Italian expressionist artist Amedeo Modigliani, her “long-neck beauties” recall Modigliani’s elongated forms, luminosity and playfulness. Rose names her portraits based on their personalities, such as Clementine, Gwendolyn, or Frida’s cousin. While she commissions portraits, her clients do not sit for her. Rather, they complete a list of questions, ‘Reveal the Mystery of your True Self’, from which Rose interprets and creates a portrait reflecting their true-self or, a “little piece of their divine”. What sets Rose’s portraits apart from traditional portraits is their expressionistic form, whimsy and colour.
A member of the Zebra Arts Collective, the Saanich Peninsula Arts and Crafts Association and the Victoria Arts Council, Rose welcomes and is inspired by the supportive and collaborative spirit of Victoria’s art community. She holds shows and teaches workshops throughout Victoria, and her art graces the walls of many homes, including mine. And with her delightfully appropriate signature, A Rose, Rose is indeed a rose amongst Victoria’s diverse artists, finding a creative place in her true-self.
I don’t know why I was drawn to Modigliani and … you can see from a lot of my portraits, it’s that long neck, I call them my long-neck beauties.
And in terms of not having a formal art degree, I think there’s pros and cons to it for sure.
But on the flip side I think that some of the issues with having a formal art education is that you become a bit of an art snob. You get those artist statements, you know, the bullshit artists statements.
Because it was very terrifying and scary to put it out there, and say this stuff is for sale. Because that’s the hardest thing, if no one wants to buy it, then that’s hard to take. You’re really putting yourself out there.
In Conversation with …
Full Interview Transcription
Edited and transcribed by Leah McDiarmid in consultation with Arden Rose
LM: Hello. I am sitting here with the talented artist Arden Rose in her beautiful home on a Friday afternoon. I am going to be asking Arden a series of five questions but, before we do that, Arden, can you just tell us a little about yourself and your background.
AR: Hi Leah, thanks for coming over to interview me, it’s quite exciting. I’ve lived in Victoria for about twenty-five years now. And, prior to that I lived out east for a little while in Toronto and Hamilton, and then in Vancouver. And then when I got pregnant with [my] first daughter, we moved to Victoria. Prior to that though, I actually went to high school in Victoria. So, I grew up in Kamloops until I was about fifteen, and then our family moved to Victoria, and I finished high school and did my undergrad here. And anyways, it was great to move back to the island after having a child. My family was here, my parents were here, my brother and sister were still out east but they, shortly after that, moved back here. And so, I sort of consider myself a Victoria native even though I wasn’t actually born here. But I love Victoria, and I just love all of the opportunity for art that’s actually in Victoria, and the more that I got involved with it, or the more that I get involved with it, the more I see how much is out there and how many artists are here. So, that’s a great part of my life. And, I’ve worked part-time for a software company and I’ve been doing that, for the same company, for, I hate to say it, about nineteen years now, and so I’ve been doing that. And yeah, in terms of stuff that I like to do. My husband I are separated and have been for six or seven years, but I have a partner, so we go out and spend a lot of time hiking and biking and kayaking, and we go on little two or three-day trips to the islands, or up island, and stuff like that, just to be able to enjoy the outdoors. It’s so gorgeous, and I absolutely love it. And so, that’s a little about me.
LM: Wonderful. Well thank you for that. I keep looking at all the art that is around me as we’re talking, and I’m soaking in the colours and everything as well, and it’s beautiful. Okay, we’re going to start with our questions, and each of the questions are in parts. So, we have several questions forming each set of general questions.
LM: Number one. You have an informative, engaging and aesthetically-pleasing website that tells the audience a lot about you and your artistic philosophies. The images of your art are beautifully presented. You state your mission is to create a piece of art inspired by your truths. What are your guiding truths, and how do you convey these truths into an art form? Your mission also states that your vulnerability and knowledge of true-self become your power. This really interested me actually. How do these attributes manifest in the creation of your art?
AR: I have my notes but I actually do know this stuff too (laughs). Basically, I sort of have been on a journey for the last year in particular. Really, it was based on a course that I took, it’s actually not over, it lasts for about a year, and it’s called Artists Who Thrive. And one of the things that we do at the very beginning of the course is, you actually identify your three most painful moments and your three most joyful moments, and you go through them, and you actually have to put it verbally into a recorder, and then you identify what your higher self would tell you, why you had that, or what was the lesson that you learned. So, as I said, the three most painful, and the three most joyful, moments. I mean, it was excruciating. It was very emotional. Um, it’s really wicked actually when you think about that, and you have to verbalize it. Because, you often might know what those are if someone asks you, but you don’t generally sit back and think about them.
LM: You’re with a group of people?
AR: No, you do it on your own. It’s all actually online but then you have study partners, and they’re from all over the world, from London, New York, and so it’s quite interesting. I’ve met a lot of other interesting artists and stuff like that. But anyways, through this process, you’re supposed to come up with your ‘why’, and I figured out that mine, based on these moments, was that you need to speak your truth. Right? And that you need to speak from your soul, from your heart, from your mind, and be willing to speak that, rather than zipping it and sitting quiet, and all that kind of stuff. And in doing that, for me in particular, I felt very vulnerable because you’re letting down that shield and, ah, so, as I said, it was quite a difficult process, but I’m really glad that I actually did it because it has actually significantly changed my life. So, that is what I learned. That is, my mission is to, for myself, my own key lesson in life, or at this point of my life anyways, allow yourself to be vulnerable and speak from your heart and speak from your soul and speak from your mind. So, in doing that, ah, in the meantime, I’ve been doing my art and was, really, I was focusing a lot on the portraits. And, you know, people are particularly drawn to them, or a certain type of people are drawn to them, but I didn’t really recognize how that coincided with that mission, right? And then I sort of realized that what I was trying to do was, I think that each one of those portraits was a little piece of myself, or a little piece of someone else that I saw. And when people, or if someone was particularly drawn to a portrait, typically they saw a little bit of themselves. They might not have actually seen that consciously, but I really honestly think that that’s kind of what was happening.
LM: So, when you’re creating these little portraits, what are you feeling at the time?
AR: It’s hard to say because you kind of do go into a bit of a zone, you know I do anyways when I’m painting them, because they essentially just come out of my mind at the time.
LM: At the time? So, you just allow it?
AR: I just kind of do it. I kind of just draw it, or paint it, and I generally don’t start with a drawing. Sometimes I do, ah, you know, so I don’t know that I consciously feel something while I’m doing it. It’s more afterwards what it evokes for me and, maybe at that moment, I am thinking about something, but it’s not always the same kind of thing, you know?
LM: Okay, thank you. That really actually tells me a little about that aspect of it. Before you start to do that, do you feel a desire overcome you? Do you sit and have quiet time before you take to the canvas?
AR: That’s a good question, because different things will inspire me. Like often, I will be looking through a magazine, or I see an image somewhere, or I’ll even be on Pinterest, or something like that, or I’ll Google something that has to do with an image, and I’ll see some things and it’ll be like “oh wow, I love that”. And, you know, then I’ll try and bring that into it, whatever that inspiration is. Um, you know, the Modigliani, and that type of thing.
LM: Wonderful. Thank you for that. Okay, that’s a very cohesive answer. Moving onto question number two. I bought two of your florals from The Gallery on Oak Bay Avenue last June. I was previously unfamiliar with your art but was instantly drawn to the vibrancy, whimsy and expressionistic characteristics of form, colour and texture; and, as I mentioned, they absolutely stood out for me. You share in your website that you are influenced by the expressionistic movement generally, and by Modigliani in particular. Modigliani’s art is noted for its perfection of line, use of symbols and poetic atmosphere. I see these characteristics in your work. Is this deliberate, or it is subconsciously driven? How does expressionist art speak to you specifically, and what are some of your techniques to parlay this style into today’s art?
AR: Okay. The Modigliani, for example, I didn’t know why I was drawn to Modigliani and anyways, I was telling my parents, “Oh, I just love him” and you can see from a lot of my portraits, it’s that long neck, I call them my ‘long neck beauties’, right? And then my Mom said to me, “oh well, when you were six” … This is like when they were twenty-six, of course they had children so young, ah, and they didn’t have any money, but there was a whole bunch of posters on the wall, a whole bunch of Modigliani posters on the wall, which I don’t remember at all, as a child, but obviously it must have subconsciously affected me. So that really makes me think about a lot of stuff, when you think about your children, you know, about how inspiring art can be, you know, to take them out, and to put art in their bedrooms and everywhere else in the house, right? To have the walls covered with art, and things like that. So that was definitely an influence. And in terms of if it’s deliberate or not, in terms of the line and colour, I mean, I don’t know if it’s deliberate. Well, it isn’t deliberate, because it’s more subconscious. But again, it can go back to, ah, me not having a formal art education, right? So, what I’m doing I might not even be able to have the words to know that it’s line, form, and you know, whatever. So, I just think that, for me, if I’m painting something, it needs to be pleasing to my eye. And, so, you can always sort of tell if something is off, or if you’re doing a painting, you’ll work through it, or on it, and it will go through this really hideous, ugly stage and you’re like, “what is wrong with this?”. And you have to stop yourself from painting over it, you know, with gesso and, ah, you slowly work through it, and that’s when you can stand back and go, “okay, what’s wrong with this?” Like often I’ll take a photograph of it on my phone, I’ll put it into black and white, and then I can see the value differences, and often there is a problem there. So, if you don’t have enough change in values and everything is just mid-tone, you know you don’t really see it when you see colour necessarily. You don’t always see the values in it. So, that’s when I stop and go, “what’s wrong with it”, more than, “what’s right with it” if that makes sense? So, instead of looking at it and going, “I really like that, why?”, which maybe I should do because that’s a really good question, and something to think about, but it’s more that I’ll think about those things when I’m trying to fix something, or figure out when something is wrong.
LM: Interesting. With the colours that I’m looking at, and this is off script now, but just the vibrancy of your colours, oranges and blues and greens, you just respond to these naturally?
AR: Yeah, yeah. I just love colour and, you know, when I’ve talked to people who buy my art, you know, I go through this sort of little mini list of questions, and one of them is, what draws you to my work? And all of them say it’s colour. So, it’s something that rings true with somebody else, as well. I think joy has a lot to do with colour, you know?
LM: Yes, You’re right, they’re absolutely joyful.
AR: Thank you. Thank you. I love that.
LM: Now, we’re going to move onto question number three. Your formal education of an Economics degree from UVic and an MBA from McMaster is quite across the academic spectrum from a formal art education. You share in your website that that you are mostly self-taught, and that you decided to seriously pursue painting about ten years ago. What did you do professionally or career-wise before pursuing art? Do you feel there is any disadvantage to not having a formal art education? I really admire that you took the leap to pursue your creative ambitions. Was this difficult? A bit terrifying? And was there a specific moment or catalyst that galvanized this choice?
AR: Okay, great question. So, in terms of, you know, the past education, I mean I was always interested in art as a child, and I had really a lot of great opportunities at some of the schools I went to. We got to do batik, and we had amazing ceramic studios, and that kind of thing. And, I think, you know, as a child, most kids are artistic and it’s whether you allow that, or not, but in terms of a career choice, it never actually even crossed my mind to do art in post-secondary education. And I don’t know if that was because I just subconsciously, whatever was drilled into me as a child, that that wouldn’t be an inappropriate career? I don’t know if it was that, or if it was my real self, saying, “oh yeah, I want to do economics “(laughs). What could it have been? So, anyways, I ended up doing that and I don’t regret it at all, going down the business route and stuff like that. I’ve ended up with a great job that I’ve managed to work part-time in ever since I had Leah, my first child, so that’s given me a lot of freedom and a lot of opportunity in terms of time. And in terms of not having a formal art degree, I think that there are pros and cons to it for sure. Like, if you get somebody who’s, you know, they’re technically trained, and they can draw, and they know everything about value, and they know all of these things they’ve been trained in, ah, whereas for me, or for anybody who is self-taught, you have to first of all recognize that you have a problem. And you know, then I Google it, how to do this, or how to do that. Or, I just take workshops. A lot of times I take workshops because I’m interested in something specifically, but mainly it’s for inspiration. You go and you get all inspired, and you get all fired up about something, or a new technique, or creating something new. So, there’s that, but on the flip side I think that some of the issues with having a formal art education are that you become a bit of an art snob. And, no one would even necessarily look at my art per say, because “oh, well, you’re not technically trained, or you haven’t done this, or…” you know, you get those artist statements, you know, the bullshit artist statements. “Oh, you know, he designs the futuristic line with a definitive level of colour and form”, and I just hate that. And it’s just such bullshit to me. So, I don’t have that, and I also don’t have the thought process that’s typically involved with formal art education, that you can’t sell your art, that it’s almost a bad thing to sell your art. So, you know, I think there is a balance there, with that, sure. And, I’ve thought there are all kinds of opportunities to go and get some more formalized education. But I don’t think I have to go back to university to do it.
LM. No, and the type of art that you do is just so free, and just coming, and you don’t have those imposed rules which really speaks to the beauty of your work.
AR: And actually, in speaking to that, that’s one of the things that, because I didn’t really know how to draw, one of the first paintings that I did of a portrait was that Frida one, that Frida’s cousin. And it’s only because Frida Kahlo was such an interesting figure, right, and she looks sort of like it, she’s just missing the unibrow (laughs), that’s why I called it Frida’s cousin. And then it was like, oh, this is kind of fun. And the first time I actually created a portrait really it was, I had been doing some abstracts, and they were really ugly and I thought, oh my God, what am I going to do with this? Should I make it into a landscape? Or a floral? And I thought, you know what, I’m just going to cover it with a head, or a face, so that was kind of the, “oh yeah, now ’ll start doing that”. So, anyways, in doing Frida’s cousin, or the couple that I first started with, then I realized that I really don’t know how to draw a face, so then I went and tried to figure it out, you know, and learned a little bit more about that. But because I didn’t have that formal education, I’m allowed to be expressionistic, right? So, this is when I run workshops, it’s like, this is fine, this is easy, because this is what you want her to look like. She doesn’t have to have, you know, a neck that’s .48 percent of the whatever. So that makes it easier and more fun, and then it becomes freer and more allowing in terms of creating the art.
LM: Right. Wonderful, thank you for that. That’s a beautiful way to put it actually.
AR: Oh sorry, did you want me to finish answering this?
LM: Oh, yes.
AR: So, the main catalyst. Actually, it was probably closer to 4 years ago that I’ve really been focusing on it, because I knew I was going to move into town and I had all this, and I was painting a fair bit then. My girls had moved out, I had that much more time so I could spend more time, and I wasn’t living with a man. And so, I had that much more time which was great, so I could do something that I really wanted to do. So that’s where I just sort of focused on my painting. And then when I was going to move, I had all these paintings and I thought, oh my God, I can’t move with all of these, so that’s when I decided I would sell them (laughter), because I had nowhere to store anything. So, then I took a big [leap], and this is what made me remember this, about the terrifying, because it was very terrifying and scary to put it out there, and say this stuff is for sale. Because that’s the hardest thing, if no one wants to buy it, then that’s hard to take. You’re really putting yourself out there.
LM: So, what was the first piece you sold?
AR: Hmmm, I honestly can’t even remember. I should, but I can’t.
LM: No, no, that’s okay. What was it? Was it one of your portraits?
AR: No, I hadn’t even started doing the portraits. So, it was probably a landscape, I was doing some landscapes, very um … with a palette knife, that kind of landscape, like not detailed or anything. So, I had a few of those, and I had a couple of big pieces, and just sort of a mishmash. I had some abstract stuff, and, you know.
LM: So how much time will you spend on, say, a bigger piece, like the one that’s behind you right now.
AR: That? Well, I just started doing these bigger pieces because somebody gave me a [big] canvas. Normally I wouldn’t buy a big canvas, it’s expensive and you’ve got to put a lot of paint on it so, there’s that, that it’s kind of scary to think of the idea that you’re going to start and waste God only knows how many gallons of paint. Ah, but someone had given me one. First of all, I gave it away to a fellow painter, and they never used it so I thought, forget it, I’m just going to paint it myself. And I just did one very, very quickly and it was like, oh wow, I like this. So, then I thought okay, I’m going to do some big paintings. But they’re way harder than a small painting. So, if I do a 10 x 10 vs. ten times that size, it’s going to take more than ten times as long for me. But if I painted a lot of really big paintings maybe it would get easier? It’s just harder, you got a whole different perspective and everything, so, I don’t really know how long it takes me to paint. It just depends on the subject, and also some of these paintings have, like, ten paintings underneath them. Because that didn’t work, and that didn’t work, right? So how long does a painting take? It really depends.
LM: Okay. This piece that I’m looking at behind you right now, when did you create that one?
AR: That one was probably earlier this year. I did five or six large ones right at the beginning of 2018.
LM: So, will that one stay in your home? Or will it eventually go to?
AR: Hopefully I’ll have a show and it will sell. So, I kind of move them around. And I’ve had, actually a lady was doing a, you know, when they set up the house to sell it? Staging. So, she borrowed a few for staging one time which I thought, oh that would be a really great thing. And there are companies that will hold that for you, but then you just worry a little bit because you’re responsible. Meanwhile, somebody can put a hole through it, or whatever.
LM: Right. So, it’s a little bit risky.
AR: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And the larger paintings, they’re just a bit harder to sell. They take longer to sell because it’s a bigger spend for people.
LM: So, what would a piece like this sell for?
AR: That would be $1800. I generally price them there. And I sort of have, you know, set prices based on the size of the canvas.
LM: All right. Thank you for that. We are moving onto question number four. You say in your website that you love florals, landscapes and nudes, but that your favourite is the portrait. What is it about the portrait that speaks to you? I see your love of Modigliani in your portraits, with their elongated forms, luminosity, serenity, and a sense of mystery and playfulness. Some of your portraits have names, such as Clementine, Gabrielle, Gwendolyn, Ersha – and we’ve talked about Frida’s cousin. I love that. Are these real people? Real names? Modigliani was known to analyse his sitter’s character and then make a careful study of the individual’s “beauty and gentler qualities”. Do you employ a similar approach in your portraits? How do your sitters respond to your interpretation of them through portraits? And, as an artist, what sets your portraits, and works generally, apart from other painters?
AR: Okay. So, in terms of the names, often I paint it and then I name them. And, um, I wrote down a couple of them and where they came from. Like Ersha, that painting is actually down at Kissako Sushi, and I painted it and to me, it was very Eurasian looking. So, I looked up Eurasian names and I found one that kind of resonated with me, you know. And then I did three or four that, to me, were forest nymphs, where your spirit plays in the forest or, my spirit lives in the forest, that type of thing. So, I just looked up names, forest nymph names, and so then I found names that kind of felt good. And then I just, I don’t know, I just kind of look at one and it would look like that kind of person (laughs), and I’d call her Clementine, or whatever. She just looked like a Clementine to me. And then the one that I called Monique, I remember that one, because to me she looked French. And I remember actually having this girlfriend in grade 7 or something, and her name was Monique. This portrait ended up looking a bit like her so it was like oh, okay, yeah, it just kind of pops into your mind.
LM: I love that! I mean, the personality of the two that I’m looking at right now as well, they’re coming through. So, what are the names of these two?
AR: So, this is something that is a little bit different, and I don’t know if it goes with this question or not. When we talk about who, I mean, I don’t have people actually sit for me. But if I do a commission, I do commission portraits, and they often kind of look like this. And what I do is I give them this [questionnaire], ‘Reveal the Mystery of your True Self’. So, I give them this list of questions and then they fill them all out, and then they send that back to me. And then I read that, and I think about that for a while, and then I create a portrait for them, and I tell them it’s not going to look like you physically. This is supposed to be your truth, your true self, or your divine, a little piece of your divine. So that’s how I come up with things like that. And so that one actually isn’t named. (Pause.) I think I was kind of doing a self-portrait there. I know it doesn’t look like me but (laughs).
LM: That whole process of approaching it that way, I love that.
AR: Yes, and the whole idea of talking about my mission as an artist is to, you know, create, find your truth. Is it by someone filling out those questions? You’re actually being a bit vulnerable, because you’re putting yourself out there, to me, and these aren’t my close good friends, these are almost relative strangers to start with. So, they’re being vulnerable by sharing these types of things with me, and the questions get a little heavier and heavier as you go through them. So that teaches them about being vulnerable, and about speaking their own truth, and then they have the portrait that’s going to remind them of that. And then this one (points to another portrait), this is my, I won’t actually say it, the word, because it’s a swear word but, it’s my, I think I’m going to call it, I think I’m going to do a whole series of them, it’s my F.Y. series (laughter). And to me, this is a self-portrait as well where, it’s like, ah, you know, I’m 55 years old, I’m becoming invisible, and it’s like, screw you. It’s like, I’m me, and I still have a lot of life in me, and, you know, this is me, right? So, I love that, that’s like one of my favourites right now. Just because, I don’t know, it means so much to me. And I think to a lot of women who, in our culture and our society, have become invisible because, you know, they’re starting to go grey, or they’ve gained 10 pounds, or whatever. I go somewhere with my daughter and, it’s like the amount of attention we get is just, you know, I kind of laugh about it, right? But if I’m by myself I’m ignored (laughs).
LM: We do live in that culture. Beauty is still so valued. I’m 52, and I’ve sure noted shifts along the way, and it’s funny. So, the Fuck You series is I think brilliant (laughter).
AR: So that started that.
LM: I think you’ll have a captive audience for that, especially in Victoria (laughter). That was fantastic. Well, that really addresses all of the questions in that set.
AR: Did I answer them?
LM: Maybe just, if you could say, or consider, what sets your works apart from other painters?
AR: Okay. I think I’ve kind of touched on it a little bit before but, I think not very many people do portraits. And I think if they do portraits, you’ll often find they’re realism, and mine are more expressionistic and more of an abstract kind of form. So, I think that, and then added with a bit of the whimsy and colour that goes with them, that’s why I do think they’re appealing, and that’s what sets them apart. I haven’t seen anything else really like that, so I think that kind of sets them apart. I mean, you can go to any place and, it can be a poster shop or an art shop, or whatever, an art and framing shop, and a lot of stuff to me looks a bit alike.
LM: Yes. Right. As in generic.
AR: And I don’t think that mine is. But that’s only me. And I think that your, everybody’s, art speaks to a particular tribe and, um, people will look at mine and think “oh my God” and move to the next table. And with other people, it really draws them in. So therefore, what I call generic landscapes, somebody else will love, so there’s room for all artists. But I do think it’s the colour and, there’s not a lot out there like mine in terms of the portraits, anyway.
LM: Wonderful, thank you for that. Moving onto question five. Your website states that you are a member of the Zebra Arts Collective, the Saanich Peninsula Arts and Crafts Association, and the Victoria Arts Council. What drew you to these organizations? Do these connections offer an enhanced opportunity for integration and recognition in Victoria’s art scene? Do you find a supportive network amongst other artists generally? And, you offer workshops on your website. Are they orientated towards novice or experienced artists? Speaking for myself of course, I can’t draw, and I’ve often thought of taking a course, but I’m a bit terrified because I have seemingly no capability whatsoever.
AR: I can’t draw either. Seriously, I really can’t. So really, talk to that first. I think that everybody has a creative outlet whatever it might be, cooking, or gardening, or crocheting, or, my Mom’s a quilter, and I don’t think you have to be able to draw. I mean, I just did a portraits workshop and none of these women had done portraits before, and it was really simple. I had this little process in terms of how you draw the face, this is how you think about an eye, and where they go typically, you do your line across there, and line across there, and there’s sort of predefined areas and sizes of features. But again, in terms of the Expressionistic portraits, make it what you want. So, everybody’s ends up looking different. And I think they end up all looking a little like the actual artist. Like they somehow manage that and, you know, it’s easy. You could do it. I’m doing a florals workshop, you could come.
LM: Okay! I will get the details from you on that.
AR: For sure. I mean, I have had people who haven’t painted before, and I think the only thing with that is that you have to go out and get all the supplies. But besides that, it can start up and spark a whole … I mean everybody gets started somehow. So, you should do it.
LM: And what else was I going to ask?
AR: You mean about all the memberships? I mean, Zebra is great because it’s the studio space that I work in, and we have about 18 members right now, and it’s very supportive. It’s a great group of women, maybe there’s a couple of men that hardly ever come, and so we sit around and we paint, we drink wine, and we eat popcorn every Wednesday night. And it also gives me space so I can go down there whenever I want to paint as well. So, it’s very supportive, and it’s very helpful to work with other artists where it’s “Oh, what’s wrong with this”, or “what should I do”, and we all help each other out. And in terms of Victoria Arts Council and SPAC, they’re both great organizations, and with Victoria Arts Council there are so many opportunities that gives you, as an emerging artist, or a new artist or established artist. Like, I was lucky enough to be able to do the artist in residence at Parkside Hotel last summer, and it was just great. I met lots of people, and got lots of painting time in, and that was provided by Victoria Arts Council. And they have lots of shows, and things like that. And I was also a member of Gage Gallery for a while, and again, it was also a great opportunity just to meet some other artists. And I find that the arts community here, everyone that I’ve met is really supportive, willing to share ideas and information and that, so I find that it’s a very supportive arts community. It’s not competitive.
LM: So, generally you feel it’s really collaborative even?
AR: Definitely. We’ve done our own shows and things like that. I mean, the only thing I would say is that it would be really nice if the city itself spent a little bit more money on places to show your work. Because that’s the biggest thing, right? Where can I show my work? You know, I don’t want to be in a gallery, I don’t want them to take 50%. So that’s what it comes down to is doing that. The Gage Gallery was a very good experience. Because it’s a collective, you have to do all your own marketing, everything, hang your own show, everything, so it was a very good learning experience, for that. That’s the only thing I wish Victoria was a little better about, whether provincially or municipally.
LM: A bit more money generally towards opportunities for venues and things like that.
LM: Now with your business background, I mean, has that been helpful to you in terms of marketing, and coming up with business plans?
AR: It has a little bit, but it was quite a while ago, and I kind of know that this is what should be happening. But really, I’ve got a few books, and I’ve taken a number of courses, like this one Artists Who Thrive, that sort of push you to go and do that. To start tracking how much money you’re spending, how much money you’re making. The second year I was selling art, I hadn’t really kept track of anything so it wasn’t very much. And so, anyways, I kept all of the receipts and started to keep track of it, and I had sold $7000 worth of art, which I was really proud of, it was like, wow, that’s great, and then I added up all of my expenses and it was like $6,948 you know, so I made like $50 or something. So, it’s a very good exercise to do that. So now I have my spreadsheet, and you can identify and it’s, like, stop doing that, and stop doing that, it’s not getting you anywhere, that type of thing.
LM: You mention that you’re working part-time. Do you manage your own hours in terms of when you’re working there?
AR: Yeah, it’s pretty good. I work for a software company and I’ve been working for them for years. So, I usually work three days a week but if need be I can work remotely from home and I don’t have to be there 9-5. I just get my work done so it gives me, I’m very lucky, I feel like really grateful that I have that job because it allows me the flexibility to do all of this on the side.
LM: Can you say approximately how manty hours a week you paint?
AR: Probably on average I’d say 15 hours a week. I try to. That’s definitely on average, or when I’m really focused on it, because it’s hard to paint for more than 3 or 4 hours in a row, physically, and it kind of gets to the point where it’s like mentally, you’re kind of done, too. So, it might be closer to 12 hours.
LM: So, if you’re out in nature or somewhere and something catches your eye or strikes you, will you have moments where you think I want to incorporate that into a piece of work?
AR: Absolutely, yeah absolutely. Have you been to Playfair Park?
LM: No, where is that??
AR: It’s on Quadra, like High Quadra, if you’re coming from here and you go past Tattersall there’s a gas station on the left-hand side and you’ll see a little tiny sign for Playfair Park, and you can Google it too. Anyways, go in the spring as that’s when the Camus is blooming, and it’s a Garry Oak setting, and it is absolutely gorgeous and then in behind it is a gigantic Rhododendron area. It’s stunning. So, I did a few paintings based on that, and I just love that park, and it inspired me so much. I was doing these landscapes and I would put a bit of collage paper in with them for the trees so they’re really fun. There’s another one I was just working on, and it’s based on Mt. Tolmie, so it was just this part of Mt. Tolmie that inspired me. And there’s a bit of collage under the trees, so it’s the nature thing that will definitely inspire me.
LM: Okay. That is fantastic. Well I think that’s really it for the scripted questions. Was there anything that you wanted to add?
AR: I don’t think so. I’ve probably talked your ear off, like blah blah blah (laughter).
LM: I love it. it’s been wonderful. We’ll draw this to a close and I will take some photographs.
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Kazanjian, Dodie. “Portrait Mode.” Vogue, October 2018, pp. 228-231.
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