Artist Jennifer Caie - AIC Interview

Nature is my source of inspiration, but especially during dusk or dawn, when the sun is low. Explorer at heart, hiking is part of my daily process, experiencing the wild places, and bringing these moments into my studio. I love the motion of wind and waves and the shapes the trees and rocks take because of the elements sculpting them.

Question:
When did you realize you had the need to create and develop your skills?
Answer:
Ten years ago, I decided to get serious about painting. I had been a full time artist in my early twenties, but life happened in-between. I still created, but it wasn't until 2010 that I escaped to my tiny studio each evening. It was just a folding table, lamp, and bookshelf in my bedroom, (but didn't Vincent Van Gogh have less?) I worked a full time job and painted in the evening. Up until 2015, I was traveling to a few trade shows and craft fairs each year. I couldn't travel greater distances to access more shows because we we're living in a remote location. That same year we moved four hours south, which allowed for easier highway travel, and I would paint full time and travel to shows from March to November every year, at least one per month. It was then, that I began being a full time artist, and have worked hard ever since.

Question:
How do you know when your art is complete?
Answer:
Painting in layers, I feel it reach out to me in 3D, and then I know I am complete. I work from light to dark and back to light, creating a depth that says “finished".

Question:
Where do you gather your inspiration from?
Answer:
Nature is my source of inspiration, but especially during dusk or dawn, when the sun is low. Explorer at heart, hiking is part of my daily process, experiencing the wild places, and bringing these moments into my studio.

Question:
Where do you typically create art?
Answer:
Sketching takes place on the sofa in the living room, or out in the wilderness. However, if I have the paints out, then I am in my studio, on one of my decks, in the yard, on the grass, or all around my property. My neighbours take interest! I sometimes paint from kayak, or lakeside, but I find it difficult to concentrate

Question:
Right now, what is your medium of choice and what is your favourite subject matter?
Answer:
Acrylic paints and mediums are my first choice, but I also use charcoal, pigment ink, dispersion, and water soluble pencil. Nature wins again for my subject matter. I see the need to preserve the wild places on my canvas, bringing those outdoor places inside.

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:
As I evolve as an acrylic artist, I see myself using colour harmony more, mixing my own colour combinations. Experimenting this year: to grow further into mixed media, and to become daring in livelier colour.

Question:
Continuing education, do you partake and if so what did you learn?
Answer:
I am learning further how to use new to me mediums. Mostly, I have spent this year learning marketing, research, writing about art, SEO, website work, zoom, etc. It has taken many, many hours and many videos to know how to do something, but it's amazing what I have learned.

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:
Recently, I did an artist talk over zoom, for the opening night of my online exhibition. Pretty cool to have people from Toronto, ON, to Victoria, BC, join me on a zoom meeting! It was well attended and I spoke about my inspiration, my life as an artist, my work in this exhibition, what it was like to set up a show online, and my aspirations going forward. It was moderated by Jamie Kemp, and we had a question and answer period at the end. I have taught beginner, advanced, and community painting art projects/ workshops. My workshops contain the theme of nature or using pieces of nature in the process. On my website, there is a drop down menu, "Workshops" the heading, and throughout the site, you can contact me to discuss needs for a workshop. Depending on the type of workshop, whether a fun get together that requires only an afternoon or evening, or a two to three day intensive workshop, we discuss your needs. I am developing a workshop called, "A Day in the Life of an Artist", where it becomes experiential... you take part in my day in the wilderness, hiking, sketching, campfire (when able), identification, photographing, and then back to the deck/ studio / community centre/ meeting place, to apply the gathered info to an acrylic painting.

Question:
Have you ever painted en plein air? What was the biggest hurdle for you? Environmental challenges, wildlife, people, weather?
Answer:
I have painted en plein air at times, but because of insects, wind, rain, and cold, I do not often take part. One of the biggest challenges is that I wait for my husband so we can travel out together every afternoon, having only one vehicle. He wants to get out in to the wilds too, and I find I'd rather be with him exploring, then sitting and painting. The other problem is I am in NW Ontario, where there is water everywhere... and black flies, mosquitoes, sand flies, horse flies, deer flies…

Question:
Do you do commissions? If so, what is your process?
Answer:
Commissions: On my website, drop down menu, "Commissions", or set up a half hour meeting with me, by scrolling down to bottom of the home page to "Online Appointments”. We discuss what size, if you have a special photo, what you would like to leave in or take out of the photo. Commissions are special, because it's a memory, or a favourite place that you'd like to have put to paint on canvas to cherish in your home. I am grateful to be included in those people's lives in this way

Question:
What is your favourite art related quote?
Answer:
“There is tension and struggle between the act of seeing and the resistance of the thing seen: we who see the picture participate in the struggle, and so make our own effort to cross the pons asinorum of art, the "bridge" between the ordinary subject and the ordinary object.” (written about Lawren Harris)

Question:
Do you have a favourite artist and what do you like about their art? Have you ever met them?
Answer:
I have many favourite artists, but of the ones who have gone on before us: Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Carr, and Lawren Harris. Living in the north has not allowed me to meet any of my living favourites!

Question:
Did they inspire you to pursue a career as a professional artist?
Answer:
Absolutely. What I love about living artists are the ones who have made it in to a career, and can give advice to help in my career as an artist.

Question:
What is most challenging to you when starting a new project?
Answer:
There are many kinds of projects I am involved in…so I will try and separate a few here. Workshops are challenging in the logistics of renting a space, travel, accommodations, and figuring out the costs per person, a wage, and the expenses, and coming up with a minimum group. Coming up with the right workshop too- as you have all levels of ability in one room. Art Installations and collaboration with other artists is challenging in having everyone agree on the actual instalment, and then to find the right time where everyone can make it to the work days. New works are challenging to simply find the time, while working on commissions. I often have two or three canvases on the go, so I can work on one, then have a fresh look toward another. Wading through all the info online is challenging too. I find so many hours a week need to be scheduled to get all the typing, emailing, study, and marketing in. And so much more!

Question:
What advice would you give to an artist starting out?
Answer:
Starting out I always say.. Goals..Schedule..Work.. and get to know your work until it’s an extension of your arm. I hear others say so often, “I don’t feel inspired today”. It’s rarely inspiration that is lacking, once you dedicate 30 minutes of every day to working at your craft, the half hour just won’t be enough. They say it takes 10,000 hours in any thing you do to become an expert! I apply that to being an artist, and not only to driving or skiing or….

Question:
What keeps you going forward with your art in this very competitive industry?
Answer:
My desire to continue, though competition runs fast, is the knowledge that I am an artist, and it is what I do, so I keep doing it. There are a few sayings out there that help.. “Live within your means”, “plan your work and work your plan”, “you created it, now find the other person who will love it”, and “find your people”. Living within your means, is for example, to let the giant house go and move in to what you can afford comfortably. Enjoy what you do instead of what you own. Find your people, means to be a part of groups that love what you love.

Question:
In your studio, right now, what is your most important tool that you would be lost without?
Answer:
Ummm, probably my painting knife and a round #10 brush, and a flat 1/2” brush. I almost forget to use others! And my overhead lighting… very needful!

Question:
What is your favourite piece of work you have created, thus far?
Answer:
I don’t have a favourite piece. My favourite subject though is nature in its wildest form. I love the motion of wind and waves and the shapes the trees and rocks take because of the elements sculpting them.

Question:
What is the most well received piece of art you have created?
Answer:
Sunsets, or wild landscapes are the paintings I receive the most attention from, lately. My little songbirds of Canada also; I have painted so many birds!

Question:
Do you have a favourite gallery or museum that you visit?
Answer:
My favourite gallery or museum … that’s a hard one. I basically like any that I walk into! Good memories come from Heritage Park in Calgary, Alberta. www.heritagepark.ca Also there’s a few galleries in Canmore and Banff that I love, but that could be because I am on holiday and the whole area is breathtaking. I love walking through the Fairmont Hotel in Banff www.fairmont.com there’s art all throughout the place and the architecture is beautiful. In Arizona, there’s an amazing gathering of artists from around the world, so you can walk through and see them work. www.arizonafineartexpo.com Obviously, I prefer the living and moving of the arts!