Artist Dee Poisson - AIC Interview

Coloured pencil artist Dee Poisson lives and teaches coloured pencil workshops in Alberta. The coloured pencil images that are created by Dee Poisson are incredibly detailed and planned. The amount of detail in her works of art are possible because of her knowledge of the subject matter and experience with the media. To see more of Dee's art please visit her website https://poissonart.com/

Question:
When did you realize you had the need to create and develop your skills?
Answer:
I have always enjoyed making things with my hands but I didn't begin to feel the need to create until after I had children and became a stay at home mom. Exploring what to create was easy, I made everything. I sewed clothes for my family, I baked and decorated cakes, I learned pottery, I gardened and canned . After awhile, It became evident to me that drawing was a lot less messy than pottery and something I could do with my children. So it began. I decided to develop my skills as an artist once I realized that art was more than talent and interest; that it could be learned and with hard work it could significantly improve.

Question:
How do you know when your art is complete?
Answer:
With coloured pencil, I need to plan my work before I start for the most part. I do have an idea of what elements I want to include in a piece, most of the colour that I am going to use and I make sure that I have sketches and reference photos available. Its done when I think I have pushed the colour and detail in the right places and the rest of the painting supports my subject matter without taking over. On a complicated piece, I have gone as far as to turn a painting to the wall for a cooling period, then turn it around a week or so later for a critical look.

Question:
Where do you gather your inspiration from?
Answer:
I am an explorer at heart. I like trees and undergrowth and I enjoy flipping rocks or shells over to see what is living under them. I enjoy sitting and watching animals and birds. I usually have my camera and a sketch book with me most of the time.

Question:
Where do you typically create art?
Answer:
The easiest place for me to make art is in my studio which lives in the walk out part of the basement of our home. I have a great studio that opens onto my garden where I grow perennials and vegetables. I love that I have a door to my garden from my studio.

Question:
Right now, what is your medium of choice and what is your favourite subject matter?
Answer:
Coloured pencil is my medium of choice at the moment. It has always been a mainstay since my children were big enough to hold their own pencils. We would all "colour" together at the table. I like to paint images of little plants, bugs, birds and things that live in my garden or where I go to pick wild berries or camp.

Question:
All artists at all stages of their career want to try something new, what other medium or subject matter do you see yourself experimenting with?
Answer:
I like oil paint and I have been spending time with plein air landscapes.

Question:
Continuing education, do you partake and if so what did you learn?
Answer:
At first I took all sorts of art classes and workshops from anyone teaching anything. Now, I am very particular about what I want to learn and from whom. There are some instructors that I take classes from because I want to learn to be a better instructor, not necessarily because I need to learn their art instruction in particular.

Question:
Have you ever taught a class or done an artist talk? If so, what did you talk about or teach? Can people sign up for your workshops and how?
Answer:
I have taught a lot of classes and workshops. I have taught classes and Saturday workshops mostly for art clubs around South Central Alberta. I teach coloured pencil workshops to adults at the moment. With the current interest in coloured pencil colouring books for adults, it is a natural step off for people to want to learn how to take their "crayons" and draw/paint their own pictures outside of the colouring book.

Question:
Have you ever painted en plein air? What was the biggest hurdle for you? Environmental challenges, wildlife, people, weather?
Answer:
I love painting plein air. For me the biggest hurdle is finding a nice day at the right spot. I have gradually gathered enough equipment to make my painting experience worthwhile.

Question:
Do you do commissions? If so, what is your process?
Answer:
I dont do commissions anymore. I used to draw police dogs for their handlers but gradually gave that up.

Question:
What is your favourite art related quote?
Answer:
I was flipping through a binder full of long, eloquently written artist statements and came to one that simply said "I like to paint" - that was all it said. I thought "wow, thats it and why does it have to be much more than that?" This artist statement was written by Jim Carlson from Drumheller.

Question:
Do you have a favourite artist and what do you like about their art? Have you ever met them?
Answer:
i don't have one favourite. I like a lot of different art by all sorts of artists and all for different reasons. One of my favourites is Robert Genn and I did meet him when I took a workshop from him but I would not call any one artist a mentor. Everyone is a mentor to me because everyone has their own voice.

Question:
Did they inspire you to pursue a career as a professional artist?
Answer:
All professional artists inspire me to pursue a career as a professional artist. Its a romantic idea to want to be an artist and then the work begins. To be honest about what I make and why I make it is a place that I return to often. I was once employed to facilitate art experiences for people with developmental difficulties for a year in a pilot project. I came away from that with a new sense of who I am as an artist and what my art might contribute to the individuals that I encounter. It was a very real learning experience and it encouraged me to be myself and that is enough.

Question:
What is most challenging to you when starting a new project?
Answer:
Finding subjects to reference photo and sketch for the idea that I have. Focusing in on what the idea is and what I want to say. I like to paint in series if I can so that I explore that subject a bit more than one painting.

Question:
What advice would you give to an artist starting out?
Answer:
Do the art that you like to do, not what you see other people doing, make lots of that art and get really good at it. Don't let the sales that you see other people making for their art dictate the direction that you go with your own art.

Question:
What keeps you going forward with your art in this very competitive industry?
Answer:
Enjoyment and every time I pick up a pencil or a brush I am in control of what goes down on that piece of paper. I am confident with my sense of who I am as a person and an artist by now. My art is my voice, I cannot stop making art any more than I can stop speaking.

Question:
In your studio, right now, what is your most important tool that you would be lost without?
Answer:
My electric pencil sharpener is the best time saver that I have but I wouldn't be lost without it. The only tool that I would truly be lost without is my ability to see.

Question:
What is your favourite piece of work you have created, thus far?
Answer:
Its always my most recent piece. Currently "A Hot Mess" is my favourite because I just finished it. Tomorrow it will be whatever I am working on now.

Question:
What is the most well received piece of art you have created?
Answer:
Ladybug on Chive is the most well received piece. Its only 10 x 8 but its fun.

Question:
Do you have a favourite gallery or museum that you visit?
Answer:
I love the National Gallery in Ottawa. it has so much rich history of Canadiana and art heroes of mine. I have learned a lot by examining works there.