No more paintings of fireweed, please

Jackie Irvine is sick of fireweed. And she’s sick of northern lights. At least, the Faro artist is tired of the painted version.

Jackie Irvine is sick of fireweed.

And she’s sick of northern lights.

At least, the Faro artist is tired of the painted version.

“There is a bit of a Yukon theme with art,” said Irvine by phone from Faro.

When she first moved to the territory, Irvine got into it.

“But it really went stale for me,” she said.

“I wasn’t enjoying it anymore.

“I don’t want to paint fireweed, and I don’t want to paint northern lights.

“I’m sick of that.”

Irvine has been painting since she was a little girl living in Halifax. And as a young woman, she studied watercolours with famous Nova Scotia painter Alice Reed.

After living all over Canada, Irvine decided to head north in ‘98.

“The artistic side of me just wanted to paint what was here,” she said.

And at first, that included fireweed and northern lights.

Irvine was living in Whitehorse, waitressing at Giorgio’s, and selling a fair bit of art.

In the summer of 2000, she approached the city for a vendor’s licence to set up in front of the Elijah Smith building.

Irvine was the first artist to do it.

Usually the city deals with hot-dog vendors, she said.

Even after moving to Faro, Irvine continued to ship paintings to several commercial galleries in Whitehorse.

Then, Irvine had what she calls her “bigger-picture moment.”

She was in her studio, which also acted as the laundry room, preparing about 20 works for one of the galleries when she suddenly questioned her motives.

“I was not happy with the direction my creative process was taking,” she said.

Irvine has just attended a marketing seminar for artists.

“And it was all about selling, of course.”

But Irvine didn’t want her work to be about making money.

“I decided I just didn’t want to do this marketing thing anymore.

“So I really just dropped out of Whitehorse.”

Now, several years later, Irvine’s work is back in town, hanging at the Chocolate Claim.

It’s the first show she’s ever had.

On November 30th, Irvine hung up the paintings and then took off.

She had planned to stay for the opening the next day, but plummeting temperatures forced her to head for home.

Irvine hasn’t been back since, to see the watercolour landscapes and acrylic mountains she left at the coffee shop.

“My part of the process is done,” she said.

“Now it’s out there and whatever happens, happens.”

Irvine isn’t too worried about sales.

But there is always some insecurity, when it comes to sharing artwork with the larger world.

“Part of it’s so personal for me,” she said.

“I think, what if nothing sells there? What if nobody likes it?

But then Irvine remembers why she decided to have a show in the first place.

“I did it for myself as part of my own personal growth as an artist,” she said.

 “If people like it, they’ll buy it.

“Art is just about creating something beautiful that people can just enjoy.”

And there shouldn’t be duplicates, she said.

Irvine doesn’t make prints.

“I want you to get a piece of artwork and there will never be another like it,” she said.

Irvine still sells a lot of work, but she also gives a fair bit away, especially to the town of Faro.

She lives 30 kilometres from the community in a square log, post and beam house her husband built by hand, using a chainsaw mill.

“There’s not one nail in the whole building,” she said.

The couple home-school their three children.

“I sometimes feel a friction between having a family and painting,” said Irvine. “Because I could paint all the time.

“So what I do, when I’m not painting, I dream about it.”

Irvine painted most of the work on display at the Chocolate Claim in the last three months.

“It goes in spurts,” she said.

Irvine’s show is hung until the end of December.