Sa Boothroyd was never good at drawing reality.
“So I’d draw with my eyes closed,” she says from her home in Gibsons, BC. “I thought the lines were really cool. You’d have something that was completely different from what you were drawing. And I found that fascinating.”
She’s right-handed, but she draws with her left. Boothroyd likes to court chance.
“I find the most exciting thing in art is always your mistakes,” she says. “Because it’s where your mistakes are that you find new things.”
Boothroyd is best-known for her whimsical prints, which she sold during the 1990s at Whitehorse’s No Pop Sandwich shop. They became particularly popular as fridge magnets.
She’s since hung up her print-making equipment and picked up a paintbrush.
“People who bought my work had had enough of it,” she says. “And I needed to be pushed and to try something new.”
Her paintings are on display for the first time in Whitehorse in Baked Cafe. The show’s called Fowl Play.
Chickens feature prominently in these quirky paintings. Colours are warm and washed out.
And there isn’t a straight line to be found in the art, or in the thinking that produced it. One diversion leads to another.
It all started with breakfast.
“This is one of those hard things to explain. Where’s the leap there? Chickens in your kitchen. OK, let’s go there. Eggs, toast. Chickens make the eggs. So that was my line,” she says.
One of Boothroyd’s trademarks are visual puns. In her earlier work, if you pull someone’s leg, it literally comes off. Laugh and you’re likely to lose your head.
They return here, in paintings such as Three Square Meals For Gracie Green Bird, in which the subject’s plates of bugs and worms come in a predictable shape.
She uses old pieces of wooden flooring as canvas. It’s another way to keep life simple, she says. Why use new materials when plenty of old stuff is being thrown away?
Some paintings also feature magazine cutouts. She became interested in incorporating magazine snippets into her art when she visited Cape Dorset’s Inuit print shop years ago.
“People there lived off the Sears catalogues,” she says.
There’s also a simplicity in style that Boothroyd shares with Inuit artists.
“I’m fascinated by Inuit art, by primitive art, because I can’t draw perspective, and neither could those guys. My work is flat too. But I work on plaster, which gives it perspective.”
“I think it’s a way of getting around your shortcomings. And it’s definitely become my style of artwork.”
Most of her work is small. This is partly a product of her cozy home and gallery, which sits on Gibson’s public wharf. There just isn’t much room to spare.
Besides, she says, “the economy wants small things right now.”
It’s all enough to keep your eyes occupied over a coffee. Boothroyd also recommends a scone.
The show continues until June 3.
Contact John Thompson at