Karin Wardle

As someone who has loved to paint since 2002, I wanted to paint people and animals doing things they love; playing an instrument, hiking, peddling a bike, skiing, sledding, playing in the waves on a beach. Being a self-taught artist and mother of three living in Calgary I enjoyed capturing their expressions and activities in art. This led to requests for portraits of people, pets, boats, even houses, all done in watercolour. I was so pleased to be commissioned for these requests.

Then a few years ago, some of my artistic friends urged me to try acrylics. I immediately loved this medium and started painting images of the natural beauty of southern Alberta, Okanagan, East Kootenays as well as from travel photos I had taken over the years: Kenya, Niger, Middle East, Mexico, Western USA and Hawaii. Grace, movement, dance, a rhythm I sense in God’s creation; these are the inspirations I am drawn to capture. Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, and John Turner are artists that have influenced my style and subject choice.

It is an exciting time to be an artist. There are so many ways artists I personally know express themselves. They have found ways to comment on social issues and try to spur change. My favourite is when my daughter, a fine arts graduate, used chicken wing bones which she enclosed in bronze or pastel coloured synthetic material and transformed into necklaces and mobiles to comment on an aspect of feminism. Another young artist painted to comment on the ravages of body image problems, like anorexia. A potter custom designed dinner plates for me, expressing a feeling of richness and freedom I wanted to have in my home. A glass blower created colourful wine tumblers and bowls for me to mirror my personality and love of entertaining. And then there are the social paint nights where people with no artistic background learn the basics of painting to hopefully come into contact with their creative side. With the event of digital art, it’s exciting to see imaginations create so many mind-blowing effects and illusions. It’s endless. It seems innovation of style and unique ways of expressing oneself are often valued more than how closely a piece resembles the subject in visual art. Also, the feeling a piece creates in the viewer.

Looking at the art around Fernie I see people who obviously love their surroundings and feel free to express that love. I also see artists expressing themselves on issues like clear-cut logging, climate change, and habitat destruction. Fernie and the surrounding areas have an amazing community of artists, where I am finding support and encouragement. In the future, I want to branch out by experimenting with different techniques of visual art as well. To continue to capture the spirit of life I see.

I am very proud to be a new member of the Fernie Art Co-op, a very fine group of artists. I am also very happy to be living in Fernie full-time. I feel more at home here than I have in any community for a long time, having so much in common with people here.