I work as a full-time artist. I create oil paintings that explore themes of personal and cultural identity.
I do this creative work because…
It’s always been my passion in life. I couldn’t be anything else. Even in elementary school I would sit in the schoolyard at recess with a sketchbook and draw things. I realized early on that I would only be happy making art and decided to do everything I could to turn that into a career.
Personal qualities that help me in my work are…
Stubbornness. My husband always tells me that I’m incredibly stubborn, and I think that it’s one of my strongest assets. No matter how many rejections, failed paintings or months where I couldn’t pay rent I stuck with it. Being an introvert also helps. I spend most of my waking hours alone working and if I wasn’t an introvert I’m sure I would have gone a little crazy.
Falling For You
The greatest challenges around doing this work are…
Constant discipline. For the most part as an artist you’re not accountable to anyone else and it’s a lot of work to discipline yourself and be consistent about it. On most days I spend at least seven hours in the studio painting and that’s not including the administrative tasks like writing grants or proposals, or stretching canvas. Creating art is easy when you’re feeling inspired, but you have to put in the time even when you’re not and just keep working.
Creative childhood hobbies
I grew up playing classical violin, and still practice when I can find the time. I tended to take up any hobby that involved making things, from knitting to calligraphy.
Other creators who inspire you
I absolutely love Kim Dorland’s work. I think he’s brought new life to landscape and brought it into the contemporary art realm. He’s a major source of inspiration along with Peter Doig (perhaps my favourite artist of all), Wanda Koop, and Christopher Pratt, whose use of physical space as its own subject is fascinating.
Marked On A Curve 2
Training that has helped me succeed in this career …
I went to OCAD for my BFA. I think that just going out there and looking at other artists’ work is really important, seeing what other people are creating stimulates new ideas.
The biggest myth about this type of work is…
The biggest myth around being an artist is that most people see it as being easy. Because I enjoy painting, people don’t realize that it’s also a job. You have to put in a lot of time to even stay afloat. I don’t actually spend my days sleeping in, and going to coffee shops – I work ALL the time. Even when you’re falling asleep your brain is trying to figure out how to fix that painting you’ve been stuck on. You’re always on.
If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you…
Create. Keep creating. Even when your work isn’t coming along the way you hoped, or you keep getting rejections, so much of it is perseverance.
A professional goal I have for the future …
I’d like to see my work sold in the secondary market, I think that’s my next goal.
If you want to see my work, go to…
My exhibition Girls Gone Wild at Bau-Xi Gallery in Vancouver. The show runs from January 13th until January 27th.
Header: Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Mel Gausden