I am starting a new feature on my blog that will be a monthly or bi-monthly post about northern artists or a northern organization that has an art focus.
So we will start with Tanaska Armstrong who has lived in a small community of WhaTi for the past few years. (look for the red arrow)
What is the medium/s you work in?
I have never been able to settle on one medium, mainly because I really enjoy trying new things and mixing things up. I am most comfortable with drawing, but also enjoy photography, painting, mixed media and working with clay.
When did you begin and what was your artist Journey?
Even as a young child I considered myself an artist and always talked about growing up and becoming a ‘real’ artist. I was always drawing and painting and directing other kids to be in plays I made up. As soon as I entered high school I took every art class available including out of school workshops. After high school I began taking part time studies at various colleges including Emily Carr University, but never found a program that suited me or my life at the time. As we all do, I needed to make money to live. And I soon found myself no longer pursuing a career in the arts and began working towards something completely different. In my spare time I continued to maintain my creative side but not nearly enough to be truly satisfying. After giving birth to my son three years ago I decided to become a stay at home mom. Only just recently did I begin to feel like I have the extra time to put into my artwork again and so here I am.
In some ways I feel like I am starting all over again, trying to remember the things I learned so long ago, but mostly it comes down to just carving out that bit of time every day and just doing it.
How long have you lived in the north? What draws you to stay?
I only just recently moved to the north from southern BC in 2011 for my husband’s work, and to allow for me to stay at home with our son. There are so many things I love about being in the north, one of them is how we can be so isolated physically from the rest of the world and even parts of the Territory, however, there is this still this feeling of a close knit northern community. I am only just beginning to realize how many amazingly talented people there are up here, and every one is so supportive and helpful towards one another.
What is your favourite thing about your medium?
Well, I guess if I picked a favourite medium it would be drawing. I love how portable it is. I keep a little sketchbook in my purse and at any moment can quickly scratch out a scene or an idea.
What is your favourite subject and why?
Definitely people. I have always been a people person and I love trying to capture little moments in people’s lives including my own. I love to travel and I always enjoy seeing how we are all really the same no matter how different our cultures and backgrounds may be; there is always that human spirit present.
Do you have favourite artists?
Oh there have been so many over the years… just recently I learned about Ron Mueck from Australia and am completely infatuated with his work. His hyperrealism is so technically perfect yet there is so much more depth to his work that goes beyond creating lifelike sculptures. I was fortunate enough to get to see some of his work in Paris this month and I could have spent hours admiring his pieces.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My inspiration doesn’t come from just one person. It is a medley of famous artists, musicians, actors, authors, friends, and family… really just anyone who has taken their dream and truly pursued it. Great things don’t just happen to people, those people work for it. You need to work hard to get what you want in life and so I am always motivated by those people who are ambitious and driven to do what they love.
Do you have advice for other artists who are just getting started?
It’s the same advice I give to myself all the time: Allow yourself to not be perfect, it’s okay to be a beginner (everyone starts somewhere). Take risks and put yourself out there, people will connect with your work if it is true (meaning true to yourself). Make the time to do your work.
What is the biggest advantage and challenges you have found living in the north?
My biggest advantage to living in the north is time. I no longer spend my days commuting, shopping, mowing the lawn etc. I have loads of time, especially in the winter months to do the things that interest me most. And as for challenges, well, I used to feel sort of at a loss for inspiration but am learning to really appreciate things as they are and am seeing inspiration all around me now. Of course getting supplies can be pricey so I try an be inventive and just like the food we order in, I am trying to not waste anything and am getting creative with materials.
Do you sell and where?
I see that you are doing an Art give away; what was the genesis of this idea?
The GIVE FREELY Project was an idea that came out of months of self reflection. I was longing to to do something creative and have a way to connect with the world. One evening I had an epiphany of sorts, and spontaneously posted on my personal Facebook page an offer of a piece of original artwork to the first person who commented with an idea. My aunt was the first to post and I later completed a painting and poem for her entitled Spiritual Peace in Yoga. The project just took off from there and that first night I came up with the idea to continue to do this for the next year and see where it takes me. I am still very much in the beginning phase of the project and I am currently working on my third GIVE FREELY piece. I am really hoping to be able to use Facebook to reach people around the globe with the idea being that by giving freely of myself to others I will be able to bring a little happiness to people and increase the joy in my own life. I’m hoping to also inspire others to do the same and give of themselves more freely to others; whether it’s being more open with the people in their lives, offering charity, or offering to help someone carry a heavy load to their car. All of these things will continue to make our world a better place, it starts with little things.
And where have you sent art?
So far I have sent artwork to BC and Newfoundland, but I have followers in Mexico, England, United States and Australia, and I have even reached people in Russia. I try to post my giveaways at random times so that time zones won’t affect who is able to post their idea first.
Thank You Tanaska!