We're about to come out with our 6th puzzle with the art of Canadian artist Angie Rees, and asked her to tell us a bit more about her work.
Artifact: Angie, we just came out with a new 399 piece puzzle of Precious Cargo, of a trio of loving giraffes carrying bird nests, can you tell us what inspired this one?
Rees: Precious Cargo was inspired by the idea of having friends in high places literally and figuratively. I love the idea that a little bird might be able to rely on a gentle giant to safe guard her nest.
Artifact: And we love the sublime happiness of When Whales Set Sail, how did that one come about?
Rees: We have very beautiful dramatic skies in Alberta and I regularly find myself staring up at the clouds and their rapidly changing shapes. It’s remarkable how our brains function and want to make sense of the shapes we’re seeing by likening them to recognizable objects.
I was painting outdoors at the Leighton Artist’s Centre a few years ago as part of their annual Clothesline Sale. Most artists were painting landscapes inspired by the beautiful location but I took my inspiration from the clouds.
When people came by my easel expecting to see a picturesque view of the mountains they were surprised to see my humpback whales sailing through the sky. They were perplexed by what I had done and I simply told them that they should have been there a few minutes earlier to see what I’d seen.
Artifact: In a couple weeks we'll get a new puzzle in-stock with your artwork “Polar Express II." Have you ever seen a real polar bear?
Rees: I’m too much of a weather wimp to venture out into polar bear territory.
They are such beautiful majestic creatures….
I’m always struck by the color of their fur. The warm yellowish white is such a striking contrast with the icy blue water they swim in and the frozen ice flows they roam. The colorful bands on the legs of the bears in this painting are the trademark colors of the Hudson Bay Company, an early Canadian Fur Trading business.
Artifact: Your art has a lot of breadth. What's your advice on creativity?
Rees: Being creative every day takes a great deal of discipline. I can run dry sometimes and when I feel this coming on I know I need to take a break and fill my own creative tank. This may involve visiting art galleries to see other artists’ work or it might be a trip to the theatre to take in a play. I also really enjoy seeing live music. All of these things help me re-boot creatively.
Some mornings I treat myself to a latte at a local coffee shop where I sit and draw in my sketchbook. I love doing this because it’s an opportunity to get out of the studio and still feel like I’m getting my creative work done.
Artifact: What was your path to having a career in art?
Rees: My style has come about through many different experiences. After art school I worked for years as a scenic artist in the theatre painting theatrical sets and props. I learned so much about the art of illusion through this line of work.
Once I became a mother I had to leave the theatre and find another way to make a living that gave me more control over my schedule so I started my own mural company. I had the skills to paint large and fast so it seemed a very logical transition.
I worked predominately painting children’s rooms - this is where I really developed my sense of fun and whimsy. Children are always willing to suspend their disbelief and go for a ride in their imagination.
Artifact: Your painting style is quite distinct, what's your medium?
Rees: I work exclusively in acrylic paint. I love the versatility of this medium. You can apply it in thick or thin layers and the colors maintain their vibrancy. I also lay down an acrylic moulding paste over a rigid subsubstrate…..it gives an irregular toothy rough surface that I really enjoy painting on.
Artifact: Which famous artists do you particularly admire?
Rees: Probably the artist I am most inspired by is Marc Chagall. I love the whimsical nature of his subject matter but also his beautiful vibrant palette. His paintings are like magical ancient folktales that have come to life.
Wayne Thiebaud for his symmetrical sense of composition and his vibrant palette. He taught me that shadows can be colors and shapes unto themselves.
And Yayoi Kusama is such an inspiration for her polkadots everywhere!
Artifact: Yes, we loved how the polka dots in your painting The Carrot abstracts-away the background, as if this bunny lives in some mythical fold of space-time, waiting for an adventurer to free it from its jack-in-the-box...
Artifact: How long do your paintings take to paint?
Rees: My paintings vary quite a bit in the time it takes to complete them. Sometimes the little ones are scrappy little bastards on the easel, and take a disproportionate amount of time to complete. Other times larger works seem to flow effortlessly from my brush. A piece like “Happy Harbor” is challenging because it’s done from my imagination and intuition entirely. As I recall this painting was completed over a couple of very full days in the studio.
Artifact: How do you know when a painting is finished?
As crazy as it sounds a painting is finished when it stops talking to you. When you no longer feel an intuitive impulse to put your brush on the surface and add something or take something away. As a painting is nearing the end these impulses slow down and you need to pay close attention so that you don’t overwork things.
Artifact: How do people get more of your art?
Rees: I’m represented by many galleries across western Canada and I sell my work through them. Please check out my website www.angierees.com