Inspired by the Goddess myth, Dailey creates works that incorporate aspects of the feminine and spiritual.
Remember the Night I Ran Away from the Circus
Birth of Venus
Elizabeth Dailey was born in London, Ontario and grew up on the shores of Lake Huron. There was little artistic inspiration in the community, however she was surrounded by the colours of the lake and found inspiration on her own. Even as a child she knew she was an artist, drawing in her sketchbooks and harboring an awareness of the colours in nature around her. Dailey graduated with a BFA degree from the University of Calgary and a Masters in Art Education from the University of Western Ontario in 2011. She taught art for 24 years in Ontario and now lives in Victoria, B.C as an artist.
Dailey is interested in Goddess myth and creating works that incorporate aspects of the feminine and spiritual. Through her art she hopes to inspire others to find a feminine presence within themselves. She listens to her intuition to guide her creative work as she continues to paint figurative women. Currently she has been working on journey cards called ‘Deck of Days’, which features her art of various goddesses, as well as her personal reflection on each goddess and their archetypes.
Feminine, Goddess, Myth, Hecate, Spirituality
“I just hope there are enough strong women in the world because that’s what we need, I think that’s what all my art is ultimately about…balance, not degrading men, no, nothing like that…we need more feminine balance in the world and certainly to recognize figures throughout history as worthwhile and they’re not evil witches or seductresses…”
In Conversation with Elizabeth Dailey
Full Interview Transcription
Edited and transcribed by Kayley Bruce in consultation with Elizabeth Dailey
Kayley Bruce (KB): I’m Kayley Bruce, I’m with Elizabeth Dailey in the fine arts building at the University of Victoria. Let’s start out with where you were born and what your childhood was like.
Elizabeth Dailey (ED): Oh I was born in London (pause) Ontario, not England, I always hesitate to get peoples reaction first. Now London, Ontario I was raised, well, mainly on the shores of Lake Huron. My parents had a cottage, which they turned into a permanent home, so I had Heron at my front door step. It was amazing yeah growing up with all the colours of the lake that had a huge influence.
KB: Did you have any other artistic influences from other people that you knew?
ED: No, not for a long time. I mean I was raised in a blue collar family and my parents took very little interest in the fact that I could draw so no I had to find any inspiration on my own.
KB: When did you decide to pursue being an artist?
ED: I think kindergarten; I knew right from the beginning that I was an artist, just in my core. It was a pretty small community where I grew up so there weren’t any real role models but I just knew.
KB: You can tell. When did you start training as an artist?
ED: I think just a lot of it was just working on my own. I always had sketch books and even though I didn’t know what I was doing, I guess I started my formal training when I left home I was 17 when I finished high school and started university and knew very little I mean even out of high school I can’t say I had really good art training, I was amazed when I got to university what other students knew. Like, colour wheel (laughter) it was just… it was pretty discouraging so I had to really learn quickly.
KB: What was your major?
ED: Fine Arts.
KB: Where there any specific teachers that really stuck with you?
ED: I ended up… I finished up at the University of Calgary. I began at Wing State University in Detroit. Couldn’t take Detroit for very long so I ended up taking a year off and finished my undergrad at University of Calgary. I’d say the biggest influence I had was my painting instructor John Hall, who’s still active.
KB: What specifically did he do that influenced you?
ED: He was really… he was into colour and composition. It sounds really pathetic but these were all new things to me so it was a pretty sharp learning curve.
KB: What brought you to Detroit?
ED: Well because I lived in that area and they had a good fine arts program. I have to say that it was really good and I was attached to education, it was kind of a dual degree but I eventually went into teaching high school art, cause I couldn’t find other career paths. Just being a fine artist, it was pretty rugged.
ED: Yeah I couldn’t see myself doing that.
KB: What do you like about teaching art?
ED: Oh it was pretty strenuous, but I think I learned more through teaching, cause you just have to. You learn very quickly what you have to teach and so I became pretty proficient. I could always draw I think that’s always been my strongest point and I’ve always drawn people, figurative, even young age, kindergarten. So I mean that’s what I just had to do (laughter)
KB: What about University of Calgary? What brought you there?
ED: I think just because it was, at the time the heritage fund, they had all kinds of money, so grants and scholarships it was great. I finished my undergraduate degree with I think a student loan of around $800 dollars the rest was scholarships and grants. I don’t think anyone could do that now but I was just very lucky.
KB: What is the arts community like in Victoria?
ED: (Laughter) Okay well I won’t get…become too negative. There are some good aspects to it but I find for the most part the arts scene caters to more commercial type of thing and tourist and I find most successful artists are painting seascapes, landscapes, which I don’t begrudge any of that, but they all seem to me, not all but so many pieces look like knock offs of Emily Carr, Group of Seven, to me it’s not challenging, the art scene here, I would like to get into a community that’s really edgy and experimental but I don’t find it here, so I have to do my own thing, but I’m used to that.
KB: What brought you to Victoria?
ED: My family. I retired from teaching. I taught in Ontario for 26 years, so it was a lot of learning. I mean it was just amazing, it was…I had a really good time teaching for the most part, but I don’t miss it either cause now I can do my own…
KB: Move on.
ED: Yeah exactly.
KB: Is there any students that you had that stick out to you?
ED: Oh absolutely yeah. I’m on Facebook with a lot of them so I still, I stay connected and it’s wonderful to see what they’re doing. I just heard from one today this morning…it’s just really nice.
KB: An online community.
ED: Yeah exactly, it’s great.
KB: That’s awesome. I’m really interested in how you incorporate aspects of the feminine and spiritual in your art, can you talk about that?
ED: It’s really…it’s tough to know where that began because again I think its been there always. I’ve always drawn figurative, but usually women and I’ve just always been drawn to that and I think the most obvious was the ‘Three Graces’. I mean that’s so predominant in literature and art. That’s what I was initially drawn to but also just the Roman and Greek goddesses and even in Christianity and Judaism, I was always interested in the female figure and the archetype and that kind of thing. When I go to life drawing…if it’s a male model I can do it but I struggle (laughter), comes a lot easier if it’s a female woman posing. I don’t know what it is, it’s just the way things are.
KB: Do you remember your first introduction to goddesses and myth?
ED: No I can’t remember the first cause it’s always been there. Maybe through just listening to stories, I’m not sure, could’ve been…certainly I remember high school, being drawn to all of that and drawing them and researching them. It’s hard to say where it all began.
KB: Do you have a favourite goddess? Or couple favourites?
ED: Hmmm… Let’s see that’s really tough. That’s like being asked, ‘who’s your favourite comedian?’ There’s so many (laughter).
KB: Or one right now?
ED: One right now…no I don’t have one in particular. I guess Athena and I guess recently, you asked me about and sent me some questions…Hecate or Hecatè…I’ve heard different pronunciations. I was drawn to that name because I went to Haida Gwaii a couple of summers ago. I rented a cabin there, it was my little personal art retreat and just crossing Hecate Straight and the reason her name stood out to me was I used to teach English too, so I taught ‘Macbeth’ and she was not one of the three witches but she was a witch in that play and I don’t know it’s just because the name…it reverberated with me, I don’t know how to explain it but I did some more research on her.
KB: It resonated with you.
ED: Yeah exactly. That word…resonated (laughter).
KB: When you find a Goddess you want to capture in a work, what’s that process like in painting her?
ED: Well maybe it sounds kinda weird but it’s partly…I get an image, I wouldn’t want to call it a vision that sounds too weird (laughter). Sometimes I have dreams, I can see a painting and I just draw from there. I can’t say any of my finished paintings look like my…the image I had in my head but it gets me started and sometimes an idea just comes in and I don’t know where it comes from. Have you ever read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, I think it’s called ‘Big Magic’? or ‘Magic’ or something?
KB: I have heard of it and that I should read it.
ED: It’s kind of interesting because a lot of it… it is true some ideas do just come rushing through you and you have to get them down and I can’t get all my ideas down actually. I never run out of ideas, I might have about…I don’t know… even one or two a day, and I have to…’stop I can’t’…it takes awhile to get this nailed down. I think I’d have to live about 1000 to get all my ideas down, but yeah I have sketch books so yeah I don’t know where…I forget what your question is…where the images come from or favourite Goddess…can’t say there is one but she was the most recent one I guess. I just love what she stands for; I don’t know if you know too much?
KB: I don’t know much about her.
ED: Okay she goes back and…the thing when you start researching any of these archetypes, you don’t know where they start. Hecate…she was prominent even in the Egyptian, there were images of her and she probably dated even further back from that. One interesting thing I found out about her is there’s a statue, an ancient statue of her, I forget what era but anyway, very similar to the Statue of Liberty and Hecate, she’s known for holding a torch or a key but she’s always at a cross roads or transition or big change I just found that really interesting. She just…you start looking at these Goddesses and I speak more of them as the Jungian archetype and how they’re just there all the time in the collective unconscious so it’s just interesting.
KB: Do you think we all have different aspects of those Goddesses?
ED: Yeah I think we do, we really do. I should tell you recently I’m putting together a deck of Journey cards.
KB: I’m very interested in that.
ED: Yeah they’re…you know what they are? (Laughter)
ED: Some people just look at me like they haven’t got a clue, but what I’ve done is I’ve chosen 31 of my images, my paintings and on one side of the cards the image and on the other side is my take on what that represents so one could be the creator within or the Goddess within, that kind of thing and it’s been a really interesting process because finally in my 60’s I’m figuring out the thread throughout my work because people would ask me ‘why do you always just paint women? What is it with you?’ ‘That’s so weird’, ‘that’s strange’ and I could never really answer. I tried doing other things like landscape and it was just…oh god what a mess but doing these cards…it just pulled everything together and I don’t have to worry anymore… ‘why am I doing this?’….I don’t ask myself. I just do it so it’s been a really good process. Actually they’re gonna be printed this week and it’s gonna be… I don’t know… people are just saying, ‘well how are you gonna market them?’. I don’t know I’m mainly doing this for myself, if they sell that’s fantastic. I call them Deck of Days, thirty ones, so one for each potential day you’re supposed to draw one and think about it, meditate and journal. I have no clear intention why I’ve done this, it’s just again one of those things that I knew I had to do. I really listen to my intuitive voice and my instinct. I didn’t used to but my artwork has changed me. It’s been great being an artist because no matter what you go through, all the hardships, no one can take that away from you, that really is my core identity. If I woke up tomorrow and couldn’t draw I don’t know what I’d do (laughter), you know it’s just, it’d be pretty pathetic.
KB: How do you get to a place where you can trust your intuition? I know for a lot of people it’s a struggle.
ED: Yeah it really …and it has been fro me too its something you just learn as you get older. If you go with it, some people resist it their whole life and I just made a cognitive decision that I’m really gonna listen because there have been times when I haven’t and that’s when you get yourself into trouble, you realize, ‘oh my god’, I should’ve listened (laughter).
KB: Is there a specific place, emotionally or spiritual or physically that you like to be in when you paint or sketch?
ED: I think I just get into that state and since I’ve been retired you can just relax into it.
KB: How nice.
ED: Yeah it’s just amazing, and I’m so grateful and I don’t take anything for granted, I literally get up everyday and just, ‘wow, I have freedom to do this’. I’m so so lucky I just can’t get over it.
KB: Do you ever get in a block?
ED: No not really I can’t say I have, I’m just fortunate. Now because when I worked full time and when I had little kids, you can’t, I had to put it all on…there was a hiatus there but I knew it’d come back, I wasn’t worried about it.
KB: So the family life and being an artist, how did you balance that?
ED: That was tough. There’s no doubt about it, I read someone like… I think it was Alice Munroe, she has four kids or something like that, and she still wrote, I just…how did she do that? Oh my god (laughter)
KB: I wish I knew how.
ED: I know because…yeah having a family and a full time job, that takes your time, your energy and so it’s been…the whole thing’s just been a process but there’s more clarity now then what I had ten, twenty years ago. I can even see my life as a big painting and some of it is a real mess, no colour schemes, it’s just all over the place but it takes on a shape. It’s really interesting.
KB: How do you know you’re finished a painting?
ED: (laughter) Never, I in fact just recently…I took a painting that I gave my sister and this was maybe 25 years ago or maybe more and I’m still working on it (laughter) so I mean if people take the painting away and physically take it away and I never see it again…but no it’s hard to, it’s really hard to stop and sometimes you have to because I’ve wrecked a lot of paintings, I’ve had a lot of disasters like, believe me it hasn’t been, ‘Oh here I started painting and then it gets done’, I have a locker, storage locker where there’s lots of paintings stacked up against the wall and I feel sorry for whoever has gotta clean that up (laughter) oh my god, but I’m okay with someday if all my paintings end up on the curb and some new artist comes along and gessos over everything and starts again (laughter). It’s fine with me.
KB: What role do you think artists have in society and female artists in particular?
ED: Wow that’s a really tough question. Depends on the culture you’re in, I don’t believe our culture reveres the arts as it should be. I’ve been to some countries…Italy and Norway where the arts are so prominent and they have such respect for people in the arts and you know composers, musicians, everyone, dancers. There’s a hierarchy here, you’ve probably seen it in school, certainly in high school (laughter) hierarchy subjects and then you have fine arts at the bottom and music is first and then fine arts and then drama and then at the very bottom is dancing and you see a lot of those programs are the first to be cut. I don’t know it’s unfortunate so on top of all that women are still struggling I think to find their place in the arts and I see that with composers, you don’t see too many women conductors, they’re there. When I studied art history, this was back in the 70’s, I remember someone asking, ‘Why are we only studying men?, weren’t there any famous women artists?’ and the answer was pretty blunt, ‘no’, I remember one professor even saying ‘well the talent just wasn’t there’, no one challenged it at the time. Anyway it’s still…we’re coming out of that I think it’s very slow to change and I know some of my favourite artists are women, Judy Chicago and Georgia O’Keefe, people like that really shine. I remember just as a memory I was in painting class and the instructor told me, ‘you paint like a girl’ and I was so offended, I didn’t know what to say and I remember thinking, ‘oh I’ve gotta change that, I have to paint like a man’, but I wasn’t sure even what that meant or what he meant, I didn’t bother to question what he was talking about, I just remember that really stung and you wouldn’t hear that I hope anymore, oh my god, but you know that was the day when things like that can be said and yeah I hope…you know that generation came up with some really powerful painters, I love the Gorilla Girls and…I love them so much so it’s great to see stuff like that, but when you look at galleries and who’s being represented I’m not so sure it’s 50/50 but fortunately artists don’t have to rely on galleries which is great, we have social platforms and the social media that’s out there…you can bypass galleries, so that’s good.
KB: Do you have any social media?
ED: Yeah a bit, I mean I’m not big on it but I’ve got a website, I have an Etsy store, Instagram, Facebook, all the usual stuff. I’m sure there’s a lot more I could be doing, like most artists I’m not a good business person at all, I’m really rotten (laughter). I’ll make a stab out of it every once and awhile, I mean the studio I work in there are quite a few artists in there and some of them are just working so hard and marketing their work, I just really marvel at them and I admire them and I try every once in awhile but…
KB: It’s a different skill.
ED: It is, yeah I think most artists don’t have it unfortunately.
KB: How do you balance that in your career as an artist?
ED: I wouldn’t even say I’ve got a career to be honest (laughter)
KB: You are an artist.
ED: I regard myself as an artist but is it a viable career? I don’t know, especially here I don’t sell my work and I submit my work to different juried shows but rarely get in because I don’t think figurative artists is a thing, it’s florals and like I said before seascapes, landscapes
KB: Traditional Canadian.
ED: Very traditional. I don’t know what it’s like in Vancouver really. I’d hope it’s a little more progressive and edgy.
KB: There’s a piece called “Remember the Night I ran Away from the Circus”, which I love. Can you walk us through the process of making it?
ED: Okay well, it’s a very personal painting. It came about I guess just from leaving Ontario and leaving everything behind, including a husband and he was the circus (laughter)…
KB: I love it.
ED: …and that one, well I brought this, it’s one of the cards I made…inspirational cards, and the figure in the background, that’s me trying to be balanced. I just found it was a very…my marriage was a very precarious balance and that’s just part of what I was running away from so instead of, you know you here, ‘oh I’m gonna join the circus, run away and join the circus’, I did the opposite. I ran away from that cause it was to me a circus, so it was a relief to leave all that behind…but actually she was… in the figure, the prominent female figure, she’s inspired by Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’, I don’t know if you can see her but I’ll do that, I’ll be inspired, I don’t trace or copy it but if I love an image of a goddess that’s already been painted, I’ll stand on the shoulders of giants like Botticelli. Can you kinda see the ‘Birth of Venus’ a little bit?
KB: I definitely can.
ED: I thought I’d bring these for you (journey cards) because these are the…that’s the text that will be on the cards, and it gives the idea also how I’ve kinda worked through images of archetypes and goddess’s and things like that.
KB: I love that she..Hecate?
ED: I’ve heard it pronounced many ways, I know people just pronounce it, Hecate, but I think the proper pronunciation is Hecatè, I’m not sure, I don’t know, could be anything.
KB: I like that she’s looking off to the side.
ED: yeah she’s got a cunning look about her because that’s one of the things about this witch…she’s very cunning and very…I think she’s not just a witch, she’s probably just another hidden goddess, one of the lesser knowns… I’m not sure, but very watchful and alert, so all of those things. That’s what I love about painting figures and capturing an emotion, just in the eyes or the expression.
KB: I like how she’s defined as witch, what do you think that word means?
ED: Well I mean its certainly taken on a lot of negative connotations. It’s one of those words that definitely counter culture and you see it even now. Have you seen ‘Sabrina’ on Netflix?
ED: They do quite a negative number on witches, but if you look beneath it all it was associated more with Paganism, which has also been vilified but I think it’s making a comeback. It’s an earth religious system, it’s just another belief system it’s nothing evil and satanic…the Sabrina thing, it’s kinda cute but then I think ‘Oh yeah you’re taking everything back about 150 years’. I think women have always been against the patriarchal world and witches…women who were maybe midwives or herbalists they were healers and they would gather the different roots and they knew how to use them and I think they were vilified because of that and they were just contemned as witches and it’s terrible. What else can you say about it, it was like a holocaust that went on and the same with any female figure in religion. I’m in no main culture, religion, but I look at Christianity that took figures like the Mary Magdalene and just did a horrible number on her and it was awful and Eve… you’ve probably studied art history and how Hogarth and how they made Eve out to be such a crude, awful…that has been the tradition for so long and I think it’s slowly changing I hope.
KB: I think so.
ED: I’m always afraid the pendulum swinging back and suddenly there’s the ‘Handmaids Tale’ and I think we’re in a balance right now and it could tip either way and I just hope there are enough strong women in the world because that’s what we need, I think that’s what all my art is ultimately about…balance, not degrading men, no, nothing like that…we need more feminine balance in the world and certainly to recognize figures throughout history as worthwhile and they’re not evil witches or seductress…
ED: …that’s right, just get away from that. More feminine balance I’d say… I’m going on too much but (laughter)
KB: I really like the cards idea; do you have any experience with tarot cards?
ED: A little bit. Not a lot… a lot of my friends do and I’ve had my cards read and that kinda thing I really find it fascinating. Sometimes it’s a little too close for comfort so my cards have definitely been influenced by that but I can’t call them tarot cards. Initially when I first started thinking of doing these cards people were saying, ‘well just put quotations…find quotations to put on that back’, and I thought, no I can’t do that I really have to write each one from the heart. It’s taken a long time and I found a great copy editor, we went through four edits and that’s exhausting. If you’re writing your thesis, you know what that’s like…you talk about leaving a painting alone…do you think you could ever leave your writing alone, you can just go on and on editing and polishing until someone takes it away from you or gives you a date, okay it’s due now (laughter) let it go.
KB: How has your work shifted since you first started creating art?
ED: It’s definitely gone more into the feminine spirit and mother earth goddess type of thing. I think I was always alluding to that but now I know what I’m doing.
KB: More of an awareness.
ED: Yeah exactly. I remember one of the first pieces I did. I think I was about 9 and I found a piece of driftwood and I painted a woman on it. I remember I gave her breasts, I painted the breasts and people were horrified with that, there’s a really weird notion about painting the female nude. I went through kind of a crisis because suddenly in my masters program we started examining the male gaze and I thought, ‘oh my god that’s what I’ve been doing all these years, painting women in the male gaze’. That really destroyed me for a little while and then I found out, no I’m not doing that.
KB: It’s more of an empowering theme in your images.
ED: It really is, it’s all about gathering strength and things like that but I can see where the two…it’s kinda of a fuzzy, fine line because some of the paintings that I love so much like ‘Odalisque’….Ingres…it’s a beautiful painting but definitely male gaze. I don’t want my work to be that way but I can see it…some people can misinterpret it as that but…
KB: I think it’s different.
ED: I hope it is, but not everyone gets it. Not that this is offensive but a lot of people look at my work and I only paint females and…’oh are you a lesbian?’ and I think that’s an interesting question…not… if I was, it doesn’t make any difference, why would that…It’s funny how people reach conclusions.
ED: Yeah and judgements. A lot of people, again the place where I work, they just don’t understand at all and I’ve been actually kinda mocked and teased about…’oh there you go again, painting another mythical, surrealistic female figure’, and yet they’re just painting from pictures and I always want to say to them, well just save yourself some time, just take a photograph and blow it up, put it on canvas, because their sense of achievement comes from…well it looks just like the photograph and I could never work like that. I don’t get their art but they don’t get mine and a lot of people don’t. That’s why I’m surprised you called (laughter).
KB: I like it. How do you remain in your truth when you have different beliefs and opinions coming at you?
ED: Well again getting older you do acquire some wisdom and more of a sense of self. There was definitely a time when I was, like I said, wondering why I’m I?…What’s happening here? Even when I start out to do one thing, you know, ‘I’m not gonna paint this anymore’, it ends up being that, I will find something…a female figure will eventually appear. Now I just don’t have problem with it, I don’t question it, I’m just really happy with that. You really…I have to say I’ve really reached a stage where I’m very content and happy and I get into that zone, whatever that is. It’s very spiritual; painting is very spiritual for me, that’s my true religion I guess.
KB: When you start a painting, do you always have an idea of what you want to do?
ED: Yeah, I do have an image in my mind and I’d say more often than not I sketch it out first, but then my painting sometimes doesn’t even look like my sketch and the sketch doesn’t even look like my original image. It’s weird how it goes. It used to bother me…why can’t I paint the exact image I see in my head? I gave up, it’s never ever the same, so you just learn to, not adapt but understand that’s part of the process of painting. Do you paint?
KB: A little bit.
ED: So you understand?
KB: I do, I get it. You talk about colour, is it these dreams and vision that inspire you to use certain colours?
ED: Yeah I dream in pretty vivid colour but the colour generally comes out more when I start working on the sketch. Right now I’m working with encaustic oil, I really love the colours involved with that and the more vivid the colour the better. I wouldn’t even say I follow colour schemes, some people are very religious and rigid about colour schemes and I’m kind of aware of it, maybe it’s buried deep inside of me I don’t know. I don’t set out with a colour palette carefully laid out and I see a lot of people, a lot of very good artists do that and it works for them and I just don’t…oh well (laughter).
KB: you already talked about this a little bit, is there something specific that you would like your viewers to see in your art?
ED: I really hope people gain some insight and maybe if they can be more aware their intuition. I think it’s everyone’s duty to…sounds pretty strong, duty, but…people should explore their spirituality, I mean we’re living in a very commercial world and so many people are unhappy and I believe this is why. We’ve let so much of that go by the boards and people need to really explore things like that…universal truths. I don’t know that’s asking a lot but I supposed I’m just trying to do my little tiny part. I don’t think I’m gonna change anyone’s life dramatically but if they can just stop and think about it and maybe the cards that I’m working on will help inspire people. I really love it when people become creative, I don’t care how they do it and to acknowledge that…creativity, I think it’s in everyone and to let that grow is important because otherwise I’ve seen a lot of people walk through their entire life and never bother to find out any spirituality and I think that’s too bad, that’s unfortunate for them but it happens.
KB: Do you remember having an introduction to spirituality when you were younger?
ED: Again it’s hard to pin point I think it’s always been there, it really has. My report card would have things that said, ‘dreamer’ (laughter).
KB: That’s nice.
ED: Now I think it’s great but at the time that was definitely a derogatory…that was a negative comment that ‘she’s a dreamer’ and ‘seems to be away in the clouds all the time’. It was different when I was growing up. Kids weren’t seen as having different varieties of learning and things like that. When I first started writing I wrote, mirror and I’ve gone through dyslexia so I was seen as lazy, day dreamer. It was very tough to come through all that. I really hope things are changing, I see…having been a teacher…some big changes being made. I think maybe this helped my artwork too…I became a special ed teacher and I used to say that all the hallways and floors were on a bit of a slant because all the lose marbles came into my art class because a lot of these kids that I taught, they had different learning disabilities and behavior problems and it was always seen as, well sent them to that art department (laughter) because they can do anything there. That gave me a lot of insight into different learning styles and I think that helped me in the big picture too, especially kids on the spectrum, autistic or aspergers. Some of those kids were the smartest kids on the planet and some of them were incredibly talented and their social skills, they were just horrible they just couldn’t function and I still wonder what’s happened to some of them. My heart really goes out to them. I think that really helped me with my spirituality…actually I’m just thinking this through now…making the connection. They gave me a lot of insights into themselves and then into me so I was very lucky to go into teaching even though I wasn’t a born teacher. It wasn’t my calling, it was just like, I gotta make money (laughter). It turned into something very different toward the end. I’d say part of going back to the whole spiritual thing…taking my masters, that really made me examine what I was doing and why.
KB: That was in arts as well.
ED: Yeah that was with the University of Western Ontario. The professor I had, Dr. Roger Clark, he’s retired but he was so inspirational. You realize sometimes a teacher can come along and change your whole life and he certainly did. I hope you’ve had teachers like that.
KB: I have, yeah.
ED: That’s great.
KB: Is there anything specific you remember about him teaching you?
ED: He’s the one that went on and on about the male gaze (laughter) which really shook my world but he’s also the one who brought me back down to earth too and said ‘no no it’s okay your work is valid, what you’re doing it’s not the male gaze’. I said to him one time, ‘I’m never gonna paint women again’, I grew up in a culture that was the male gaze and then it’s coming through blatantly in my art obviously. He’s the one that said, ‘no it isn’t’ (laughter). It’s different; I think I started recognizing I work differently.
KB: You talked about writing, what kind of writing?
ED: Oh god I’ve never been a writer, that’s the hardest thing. Writing papers for university, I did it and I did it well but writing texts for my cards was really tough because it was so personal and that’s when writing gets really hard.
KB: It’s hard to go within.
ED: It really is but I don’t even pretend to be a writer. I think writing’s the hardest thing in the world. To be a writer…and even harder than that is to say ‘I’m a poet’ (laughter). I don’t know how people do it, I marvel at it.
KB: Besides your cards, which are gorgeous, is there anything else that you’re working on?
ED: Just a lot of encaustic work and it’s very quick. I’m working on miniatures right now and actually Joan of Arc is coming up in my paintings, so you’re asking a recent…I just thought of her too, ‘oh yeah Joan of Arc’.
KB: What sparked that?
ED: I have no idea (laughter). Could have just come in a dream for all I know. I’ve always admired Joan of Arc and I love the Leonard Cohen song about Joan of Arc, that’s a really haunting song. I think this is what I’m doing right now…I don’t know something will attract me and I just kind of sink into it. You love Leonard Cohen?
KB: I do
ED: Oh yeah he’s amazing.
KB: Anything else you’d like to add?
KB: Thank you
ED: This has been a really interesting process; I think I’ve learned even more about myself.