Susan Schaefer – From the Prairies...to the West Coast...and Beyond!
As my 55th birthday draws near (yikes), I look at my life as an artist.
I sit here from the living room of my Qualicum Bay home / studio typing on my lap-top. My husband Jeff or L & L (lover and lugger - as he likes to be called) is typing on his iPad. We have a beautiful garden which we both enjoy and a spectacular ocean view. The summer breeze is gently blowing and I feel truly blessed to be here, on Vancouver Island at this time in my life.
As far back as I can remember I was drawing, colouring and playing with colour. Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, the only thing we had to colour with were pencil crayons and wax crayons. I was a nerdy kid, who absolutely loved to get geography homework. Sounds weird right? That meant that I could colour in the maps, shading the edges of the ocean from light to dark as it went further from the shoreline. With wax crayon I could take a pencil sharpener, shave off the wax and use mom's iron to melt it down into some cool and interesting shapes. Not so good for the iron I was told. Sorry mom.
It was in the year 2000 when my art career went from being a hobby to a profession lifestyle. I was living in Saskatchewan in a lovely “little house on the prairies”. I joined the local artists guild and organized art workshops. I started working in watercolours, but as my confidence grew I branched out into acrylics and oils.
One day a girlfriend said “you should have an art show right here in your house.” That was a scary thought. I gave in and invited 5 ladies over for a glass of wine and some nibblies. That evening I sold 3 paintings. Wow – that was great. From then on I had a yearly art show in November (as that is my birthday month), at my home studio. I invited more and more patrons each year and made sales, but more importantly, many friendships were formed.
In 2007, I moved to Qualicum Bay on Vancouver Island. For the first few months I explored the island, painted and joined a few art groups. That winter a friend of mine invited me to go to Mexico with her. I love going south, as it gives me a fresh outlook on things. While there, I decided to 'go for it' and create an ARTS Magazine to showcase west coast artists. With a graphic-design background and very proficient on a Mac computer, in March of 2008, the Island Arts Magazine was launched. Another scary endeavour, but I thought “If not now, when?” We have just published our 27th issue and the magazine is going strong with subscriptions across Canada and into the USA. And it is still FUN to create.
Through the Island Arts Magazine, I was able to meet many wonderful artists up and down the island. We also get invited to and sponsor amazing events. For the past 5 years we hosted the Island Arts Expo, a weekend of workshops, artists talks and exhibition of artwork. After 5 years, we decided to move onto other endeavours. In the last few years I have been organizing workshops in Qualicum Bay, bringing in artists from across Canada from whom I wish to learn.
I keep further involved in the 'goings on' by volunteering at local galleries. I spend a lot of time marketing my work, which pays off as I have collectors across Canada. Recently I received a commission from a patron in Mexico which we will be delivering in December. What a burden!
I feel very fortunate that I can do what I love, and have so much fun doing it. It is a great feeling when you have created something from your heart and then someone loves it enough to include it in their life. I am truly grateful and I am excited to see what I can accomplish in the next 55 years.
Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...Susan