Pivotal Event #6 “Brushes, Brayers, and Burnt Umber.”
One of the best things I ever did for expanding my technical knowledge was to take a job at Opus Art Supplies (Granville Island). A few months after I got my studio and began painting full-time I was on the lookout for a part-time job that would help me make ends meet. Opus Art Supplies came to my rescue by not only giving me a job but by providing me with an art education.
In August 2006, I was hired for the Back to School rush at the store. In order to be able to help customers I needed to quickly learn enough about a wide variety of art materials to be able to answer their questions. Much of the information I learned then I still rely on today to increase my understanding of how paint moves and flows and expresses on different surfaces, what media you can put together, and what type of paper to choose for which project. It not only helped me interact with customers at the store, it also helped me years later discussing work with my clients. But at the time, it was all new information to me.
For the next two and a half years, I worked at Opus, sometimes part-time and sometimes full-time. In addition to giving me an education, it also provided me with an artist community. Staff and customers alike were full of information for an emerging artist to absorb and expand. My co-workers were all very cool and fun people working on very cool and interesting projects. Most of my co-workers were art students and they had lots of experience to share. One day over coffee break I’d be chatting with a surrealist about surface supports. The next day, a hard-edge abstractionist and I would discuss our perception of colour, or a printmaker and I would talk about how to know when a piece was finished. We celebrated each other’s artistic victories, deconstructed our challenges, and shared our struggles to find more time to create.
The scene in Opus Art Supplies was of people in the arts working together to help people in the arts. Those conversations and that community helped me grow in ways I still value and honour today.
How has contact with other people in your field helped you grow in your success? Can you point to times when new knowledge you gained about your materials has helped you better express your vision? Did you have a pivotal moment in your career or passion when you turned left or right in order to commit to it? More stories coming in the next posts!
Thanks for reading, Lisa
Photo above: Prior Series 01 circa 2006, an early piece on rough-sided scrap plywood