Mimi Sahlstrom

Like most visual artists, painting is something that I more or less have always done. I grew up in Sweden and my mom, besides having a fulltime day job and raising three kids, painted. I can’t remember when I first got to paint on canvas with my mother’s oil paints, but know I was young enough to eat some of the paints and always chewed on the wooden brushes but my mom always had a lot of patience and let me go at it.

As I got older it seemed like the obvious choice for me to go to art school. I just loved expressing myself visually through paintings and drawings. My high school art teacher at the time didn’t want to discourage me but did inform me that my style of painting, which was and is very romantic and fairy tale like, was not the subject matter and the style that the art schools in Stockholm were interested in at the time. I quickly found out that this was quite true.

So instead of going into a practical art school, I decided to study Art History at Stockholm University and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a Major in the History of Art. I worked showing art at the Royal Palace and at contemporary exhibitions at Liljevalch Art Hall. The work at the Palace was seasonal so I saved my money and spent my winters snowboarding in Fernie. Like so many others that come here for the winters I fell in love with the place, and I fell in love with a Canadian and long story short, I made my permanent move here in 2002. This is when I took my longest break away from painting. We travelled a lot, tree planting in the summers and skiing the winters. We had two kids and it wasn’t until my youngest started Kindergarten in 2016 that I started painting again.

I was happy to discover acrylic paints over oils. They dry quicker which makes it easier to work in layers and they are easier to clean. Even though I feel I’m constantly improving as a painter my expression is still similar to what it always has been. I call it “mystical realism and contemporary romantic.” I’m inspired by watching my children play in nature, fascinated at the way evening light highlights objects and makes them glow. I mostly like figurative painting and find a lot of inspiration from the late 1800s art such as the Swedish fairy tale illustrator John Bauer and also Goya. An idea for a painting often comes from things I’ve experienced outdoors but sometimes it can come from something someone said or music or even from a book. I always keep my sensors open and usually have more ideas for paintings than I have time to paint.

With the Internet and social media, there are more opportunities than ever for artists to show their work. I think Fernie has a lot of venues for artists. I have my paintings and reproductions at the Fernie Arts Coop on 2nd Ave and I’m also going to have an exhibition at The Fernie Arts Station opening on July 26 and closing at the end of August. The banner project is another great opportunity for Fernie artists to show their art in public. I have no plans with my work, as try not to look too far in the future so will continue to go with the flow and see where it takes me. I just feel very privileged to have this time to paint.