Local artist casts a wide net for inspiration

Matt Gardner
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Many artists can point to a specific muse or source of inspiration for their work.

Denise Gaudet is not one of those artists.

Presiding over an ongoing exhibit and sale of her work at Amy’s on Second Restaurant, the local painter highlighted her wide range of potential subjects.

“What inspires me is everything I look at,” Gaudet said. “Anything I see, if I like it, I think, ‘How can I paint that? How can I make it my own? How can I change it?’  So I look at pictures on the Internet, I even use my husband’s photography as inspiration, kind of change it up a little bit.

“The one thing I don’t do is try to paint realistically -- because I know I can’t, for one thing,” she added. “I admire those who can. But it’s just a matter of just looking at pictures and seeing what I like and what I want on my walls.”

Gaudet currently has 17 paintings on display at Amy’s for the art show and sale, which began on May 25 and runs until Aug. 24.

The paintings, which depict trees, flowers and landscapes as well as more abstract subjects, are all acrylic-based.

“Oil is too hard to clean,” Gaudet noted. “Acrylic is just easy to clean because it’s water-soluble.

“I haven’t tried watercolour, and I think the reason for that I think is because it dries so fast that I just don’t have that technique down pat yet to kind of go there.”

The former co-owner, with her husband Philippe, of Sunlite Health Foods before the   couple closed the store earlier this year, Gaudet has been honing her skills in art for the last two years.

She first began painting after her grown-up children moved out of the house.

“I was just feeling a little down -- I guess you could call it empty nest syndrome,” the artist said.

“We’re starting a new life, a new journey, and I was so busy raising them and working that I never had any time during the day for anything except running around for their functions, working, cleaning, baking, the whole normal mom thing -- and then they moved out and it was like, ‘That’s it? Now what?’”

While continuing to work, Gaudet decided to take advantage of the extra free time she found herself with.

What inspires me is everything I look at. Denise Gaudet

“I just started recalling liking to draw when I was a child and I thought I’d look that up again … I took some art classes and I fell in love with it, and kind of went from there and so just started painting … I enjoy it and it brings peace of mind for me,” she said.

To develop her skills, Gaudet trained under local artist Chantella Viala, who was able to schedule lessons around the former’s work schedule.

The myriad techniques Viala taught her offered Gaudet a variety of ways to express herself through painting.

“She showed me all kinds of techniques,” Gaudet said. “There was palette knife painting. We did pop art. We did contemporary. Pointillism was another one.

“Now, because I’m so new at it, there’s so much more to learn,” she added. “I don’t even have a style, I don’t think, yet. I call myself ‘contemporary,’ but I don’t think I really know my style yet because I’m so new and there’s so much to know yet. So I haven’t really gotten comfortable with a certain style.”

The exhibit at Amy’s marks the second art show where Gaudet has featured her work, following a show last year at the Bison Café.

The artist plans to keep her focus on painting for the foreseeable future.

“I’m the type of person who likes to keep busy … Too much time on my hands I’m going to get bored,” Gaudet said. “But I’m going to work part-time and definitely focus on my art … I think it’s my time now, so I definitely want to take the time for the art.”

She added, “The people that do come to view the exhibit, I just hope that it gives them a sense of peace like it does for me when I’m painting … I just hope they enjoy it.”

See also:

Health food store closure marks the end of an era

Organizations: Sunlite Health Foods

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