Pandemic life started for most people in 2020. For me, lockdown started on July 7, 2017, the day my Mom passed away. My grief paralyzed me. The days, months and years are a blur. Six months after her death I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Treatment began and was successful, even though I still struggle to regain my strength and stamina. I am not sure whether grief or illness is more exhausting. Yet I recently looked at my social media feeds and they show a different picture of me -all smiles- with my paintings and my students. That is not an accurate portrayal of how I felt and as I pondered this, I knew I had to write and share. I have hesitated to discuss my grief and my health struggles in public because I do not want people to feel sorry for me. I am here to bring joy and not to bring people down. But this is not the real, authentic person that I am right now. I still grieve, everyday, and I know that I am not the only one who is surviving life while carrying tremendous grief.
During these past years, it has been my students that have kept my mind sharp and focused on art while, behind the scenes, I deeply grieved. Teaching gave me time to pursue a new found passion for words. Through these words I have found healing as I reminisce about my life with Mom, and most importantly, I now get to share these memories.
As I write posts for this blog telling stories of my extraordinary mentors and how I began my career, I realized I have been on the artistic path since before I was born. How could I not be a creative person when I have a name like Caprice? I was born different and my Mom somehow knew that from the very beginning.
It was Mom who first taught me about color theory when I was a little girl. She used to take me to work with her at Fanny’s Fabrics, the store that Mom and Dad owned. While she bustled around merchandising and serving customers, she gave me the very important job of filling the thread racks. I was focused on the task at hand, as my little fingers gently pressed on each thread color to find out if more was needed. As I touched each color, something profound was ingrained in my head as I can still recall how the orange threads slowly transferred into corals and then into yellows; how the multitude of greens slowly morphed into blues and then purples and then reds. I could not have asked for a more immersive experience in color.
As I got older, Mom taught me to be a custom seamstress. She was in actuality teaching me color, line, composition, shape and value; the five rules of fine art that I would study years later. The sewing terminology was different from art but the rules were the same. Seams (lines) had to be straight or I must rip it out and do it again. If the fit (composition) wasn’t quite right, it had to come out and I would start over. Mom was teaching me to have an eye, how to see. I would not pick up a paintbrush until I was twenty-one years old but these years of sewing set a good foundation for my art career.
I studied with Karen Hersey and Keith Smith while living on the prairies of southern Alberta. It was the perfect backdrop for learning to paint. Then in 1997, on a beautiful, autumn day in September, Mom and I packed up everything we owned, including our dog and 3 cats and headed west to Kimberley, British Columbia. We were starting over, just the two of us. It had always been our dream to live in the mountains and we were doing it! Life became a fairy tale as we found ourselves living in a ski town in a house built in the 1940’s nestled amongst the Rocky and Purcell Mountains. As we dramatically renovated our little home, we simultaneously transformed our lives at the same time.
Mom & I, Caprice Fine Art & Co Studio Gallery, Kimberley, July 2009
Mom’s business intuition was instrumental to our success and the first thing she said we needed was to find our niche in the community. We spent years slowly building up my art and my reputation until we opened Caprice Fine Art & Co Studio Gallery to the public in 2004. Everyone was welcome. While I worked my paintbrush, Mom wielded her expertise in marketing, merchandizing and she simply made things happen. We were a great team. She served chocolate chip cookies hot out of the oven as I talked to visitors in the Studio about paintings. Every aspect of the business was her and I working together. My work focused on commission pieces and suddenly we were filling that niche.
Mom and I at the opening night of “Here I Am” Exhibition, Kimberley, BC, September, 2002
As I look back, every painting I have ever done somehow had Mom involved. The memories are everywhere, especially in the paintings. She was a massive part of everything. Our lives were completely intertwined, no place where one began and the other ended, no division between mother and daughter. Our lives, and souls were inseparable. The hole she left is monumental.
Mom & I in Tuscany, Italy in May 2010
Now I sit in a sunbeam at my laptop in my little studio in Kimberley, BC, in the house that Mom and I bought together and I am grateful for my memories. Through my writing, I feel a spark alive in me again as I take on the mystery of stringing one word after the other, hopefully in an inspiring and exciting way. The words and the memories help me to feel closer to Mom. As I work towards living a life without Mom by my side, I am thrilled to have you with me on this new found passion and I thank you for taking the time to be a part of it all.
I dedicate this blog to Mom because none of these stories would have happened without her. Now with my grief ebbing and flowing I take this first step out in the world without her. I still feel her beside me and I know she is proud. This website and blog, the art lessons, the paintings I am currently working on and the ones yet to come; Mom will still be a part of it all. For that I am truly grateful. Thank you Mom!