Art Adventures: A vase of flowers and acrylic paint changed my life

Cathryn Atkinson Flower Painting

By Cathryn Atkinson, Arts Adventures

An abstract painting of a vase of irises, tulips and daffodils hangs above my desk.

I love it so much, imperfections included. It represents the reason why I started this company.

I was invited to take part in a workshop by painter Valerie Butters 18 months ago. Valerie specializes in huge canvases of floaty, dreamlike flowers painted in an abstract expressionist style.

We first connected via email as part of my arts editor job at Pique Newsmagazine in Whistler; I wrote about a show she was in.

I jumped at the chance to finally meet her in person and to put a brush to canvas — a first for me. Around 25 participants came to an elegant marquee tent set up in the village of Pemberton and we all were given the same vase of flowers and the same guidance from Valerie.

I spent the next few hours having the time of my life. When you’re a journalist you are in front of a computer researching and writing for hours; it is an absolute gift to be  active and creative with a different part of the brain.

The wine and great company didn’t hurt, either.

Cathryn Atkinson Flower Painting
Exhibit A by Cathryn Atkinson.

Each person  created a different work of art. I was astonished — we reacted to Valerie’s teachings in our own individual way. And each piece made had something quite beautiful about it. Mine (as you can see in the photo) is textured, with flowers that are gravity defying in a short vase. A friend called it “energetic”. Mostly, I love the colour and what it represents for me.

On top of the usual stresses of deadlines and writing, I’d been through an extended period of personal stress, too, and what I was given that night was a way back from it — a chance to be outside my worries.

So you could say it was a pretty good night, and the positive feelings it created at home and at work lasted for months.

Afterwards, I had an hour-long drive home and my mind was in a whirl.

The idea that art was something I needed wasn’t new to me, but I mainly did that through visits to galleries and in interviewing “real” artists.

I started thinking beyond this. What it can mean for individuals, for businesses and other organizations. A year or so later Arts Adventures was coming together — an opportunity to connect artists with groups of people who benefit from the morale-boosting, creativity-enhancing potential of the arts.

Along with painting and sculpture, we also have workshops in:

  • Creative writing through writing games (for those of us who do it as part of our jobs);
  • Theatre sports (for trust exercises and team building);
  • Indigenous art (to connect people with the extraordinary talent of First Nations artists);
  • Mosaic (like a jigsaw puzzle with cement!);
  • Photography (knowing how to best capture the world).

And what does Valerie think of all this? She was one of the first artists to jump aboard Arts Adventures, and I am grateful for that.

Our core value is to support what you do already through the life-enhancing potential of art.

Thanks for considering us for your event.