Artist Becky Thiessen Reflects on her Completed Cross-Canada Journey
October 23, 2017
by Becky Thiessen
Travelling and making art with others, is a dream come true. We have such an interesting country. Such variety in geography and people. I think about all the various places in Canada that I have gone and marvel at the extreme differences in landscapes and weather and waters. I think about this diversity and then I think about the people. We do live in a special place. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and make art with many Canadians, young and old with so many different stories to tell.
I love when a parent comes with their child and initially think that the art making is for the kids. My goal in my workshops, is to engage everyone. I always encourage the parents to participate and not just with the child, but on their own as well. Many adults have lost that excitement with art making, and I love bringing it back to them. I designed my art project to be very accessible. I adapt it so that the very little can participate, the people with mobility issues, the older people and the ones who haven’t touched paint since grade 3. We all started to draw before we learned our letters and numbers, and I think that people can find their drawing skills again as an adult. My project also engages the most technically skilled, it is a process where anyone, if they want, can participate with success.
I have many stories to share. I have a collection of stencils and each one of them has reminds me of the different people I met along the way. The stencils pay it forward to the next community. In Alert Bay a soon-to-be mom, was making a stencil of a butterfly. She told me that she comes from the butterfly clan and wanted to make a baby bag with a butterfly stencil. That stencil then travelled with me to many other places and used many times over. In Notre Dame-de-Lourdes a young woman, who was also pregnant, was drawn to that butterfly stencil and started using it, I was so thrilled to tell her where it came from and who made it. A little girl on her tenth birthday came and made art with men Saskatoon, she was a little bit apprehensive about the project. She drew a puppy and I cut it into a stencil. That stencil became one of the most popular stencils. I got to meet up with her later and tell her, that her art inspired so many others. It was so fun when two teenage boys wandered into my workshop in Lethbridge and ended up staying for hours.
I had so many joys working with people, teaching them a technique that they might never have known before. It really can be such a joy when the art under the stencil is revealed, so much cheering and laughter. I had a great time sharing my art with so many Canadians. I want art to be accessible and I want people to explore and learn new things and have confidence in themselves to create.
The more I travel Canada and meet others living in this country, the more excited I am to learn about my country and the people who live here.