Wednesday, November 06, 2019


The Veil — Karen Blanchet

Tomorrow night is the Opening Reception for the show The Veil by Karen Blanchet! 
Exhibition coordinator Catherine McMillan sat down with Karen 
to ask a few questions....

I read in your bio that although you were born in Saskatchewan, you actually spent the majority of your formative years moving from place to place in Canada and then to Australia for thirteen years. How do you feel about your nomadic childhood and in what way do you think it influenced you becoming an artist and how do you feel it shaped the work that you do today?  

One advantage is my childhood introduced me to different cultures and points of view. I also learned how to detach from things as moving always seemed to entail a loss of precious possessions. Along the way I had the opportunity to deepen my knowledge with the help of some excellent teachers. I was always interested in making marks and exploring the possibilities on paper. Art was my safe place.

What mediums do you work with? What draws you to use these mediums? Please explain your creative process and how you developed and evolved into the unique style that you have today. 

Watercolour was part of my early development through elementary school and into junior high. My formal training was in oils, after I learned how to draw. My ambitions to be artist came to an abrupt end when Dad insisted I attend university to become a lawyer and stop wasting my time. I was twenty-one at the time and did not touch paint until my husband encouraged me to take it up again. I departed from oils and went into watercolour for many years. Asked to paint a mural, I discovered acrylics. I took a few classes and explored the possibilities in this medium more intently. Accidents attract me. Watercolour is full of accidents. I decided to encourage accidents with acrylics by creating a rough surface and throwing paint at it before I returned it to a semblance of order.

Can you explain what your current show “The Veil” is about and how that message is being communicated through your paintings? 

In the beginning there was chaos. My process and this particular show is really biblically based. The veil is a tangible reality of the imaginary separation most of us feel with God, with our neighbours and with the rest of creation in general. We must lift the veil to enjoy the beauty beneath. The series of paintings beneath The Veil is called “One”. The fractured image is a symbol of our world crying out to be loved and cared for. Everything is seeking union; indeed, nothing is separated. Science is just beginning to understand how the universe interconnects. The Holon theory is fascinating in the repercussions every vibration perpetrates. It is time we paid more attention. “One” is filled with symbolism. Some get it. Some don’t. It’s OK.

You are a very busy artist, with many solo and group shows. How do you manage it all and what kind of schedule for studio practice do you have in place? 

I do my best to maintain a four-hour morning schedule in my studio where I engage in about three to five or more projects at once. Deadlines dictate which project receives priority. I am woefully behind on archives, ecommerce and marketing in general. The afternoon is divided between paperwork and many personal responsibilities. Evenings are generally for relaxation.

Who are your biggest influences, artists or non-artists that have directly (or indirectly) affected your artistic expression?  

Every artist I have ever worked with has had a direct influence on my artistic expression. The foundation I received at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, Australia, certainly gave me means to transfer into any medium I wished to try. The SAPG helped me out of my shell in many ways. Jean Petersen, Doris Charest, Sara Genn, as well as others, all had a hand in forming what I do. And I would not be where I am today without the unfailing support of my wonderful husband and family.

How long have you been involved with VASA? What do you feel are the positive aspects of being directly involved with an art community like VASA? 

I was part of the December show in 2009. In our world where art is very much under appreciated, it falls to the cooperatives to support this essential element in our society. Art often shows the way in a period of chaos and disruption. We are living in a transition period where what we once thought was solid is crumbling. This is part of what my work is saying. There is another, more important part shouting the message that all is well in spite of what it looks like. Without VASA, and other communities like it, my work would be hidden in my storage unit.

Thanks so much Karen! Please join us for the opening reception of The Veil tomorrow evening 6-9pm!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

“The artist committing himself to his calling 
has volunteered for hell whether he knows it or not.”
~Steven Pressfield

Many people have asked me how I have been doing 
since I shut my cafe and committed myself to painting.

Well, to answer that question...
the last two months of painting full time 
have been hell.

(Just to clarify, 
I don't mean 
the "working at Walmart for minimum wage" kind of hell, 
or the hell of illness, 
or of injury
or death 
or the one hundred other kinds of hell 
that exist in life.) 

I'm talking about the kind of personal hell we go through
when we attempt to do something that we have desired our whole life
and have an unrelenting expectation to internally succeed at.

Lets just say, it certainly isn't the artistic "bliss" that I expected. 

I thought it would be FUN. 
You know... 
“a dream come true" 
kind of feeling…
"following my passion.... 
and doing what I have dreamed of doing my whole life" 
kind of fun.

 Trust me, 
it hasn't felt that way at all.

Now, don't get me wrong, 
there have been some ecstatic moments....
like that sudden and unexpected realization of victory, 
when I can confidently lay down my paint weapons, 
knowing that the battle has ended 
and that today, I have actually won.  

In those moments, 
everything feels right in the world and 
my decision to dedicate my year to painting 
makes sense and feels justified. 

that feeling rarely lasts long enough
to clean the wounds from my last combat
and is usually completely gone 
by the time I start the next painting.

in this past week, 
something small has shifted. 

 I don't know what has really changed 
or why it has but I do know that 
something feels different. 

Perhaps its simply that I am starting to know my artistic self a little bit better. 

...and for now, 
that is enough for me 
to keep trekking on this journey.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Next Art & Wine Night is Friday, February 21! 

Come spend a wonderful evening with a glass of wine & some great snacks, in a creatively inspiring atmosphere creating something unique and personal! We also take bookings for private Art and Wine parties for 7-10 people

On February 21st we will be creating 9 small 4” x 4” wooden panels using mixed media in a similar colour and subject theme. They will then be placed in a frame as a complete collage. 

Reserve your spot today! 


Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Sweetheart Valentine's Day Special"

Looking for something romantic, unique and extra special to do 
this Valentine's Day with your sweetie? 
(or know someone who is?)

At the cafe we have a
 "Sweetheart Special"
Book your live cafe caricature sitting 
on Valentine's day 8am -9pm 
and get a wonderful caricature drawn live with your sweetheart,
2—12 oz cappuccinos and 
2 desserts. 
All for $50. 
*not applicable with other coupons.
Please call or email to reserve your spot! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

See you in the new Year!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Don't wait for permission from someone else 
to begin living your life with purpose and passion. 
Its not up to anyone else to 'let' you do it. 
Its up to you to start living that way now. 
~Cathy McMillan

Well, my cafe will be one year old tomorrow. 
Which I guess means that I have been a 'cafe owner' for one whole year.

Its actually very similar to being a first time mother and how I felt absolutely overwhelmed, exhausted and amazed at just how much work it really was....even finding myself sometimes thinking ......"What the hell have I done?"  

Waking up everyday in a new life with so many decisions to be made, 
so much responsibility,
and constant uncertainty of just how far 
I would be pushed out of my comfort zones each and every day.

This whole experience has taught me so much about myself and about business.

A year ago whenever I was doing some kind of official 'left brained business' task,
I often apologized to whomever I was speaking, warning them that I was 'only an artist'
 before I launched into the discussion or negotiation.
I was certain that I was at a disadvantage because I knew nothing
about business formulas, marketing strategies or profit margin concepts.

Since starting the cafe, I have had to make a LOT of decisions.
I really didn't know what "regular" cafe owners do, so I just made my business decisions the same way I do when I paint...from my intuition and gut.
Sometimes I really needed to step back and think about certain details intellectually
(like I might have to do with colour theory or value rhythms in a painting),
 and so I would do that and then quickly return
to the intuitive process just to make sure it was correct.

Over the past year,
I slowly figured out how to read my intuition for business decisions.
I learned that if a business decision didn't make me want to puke,
 that meant it was probably okay and I should do it,
but if it did, then definitely I should stay away from it.
If I couldn't get a solid decisive feeling about a something one way or the other,
I learned that it just meant that I needed to wait
and so I learned to be really patient,
trusting that eventually I would know exactly what to do.
And inevitably I always do.

So here I am a year later 
looking back over all my intuitive business decisions that have turned out right.

Building a cafe on a caricature artist's small income is one thing,
but then making it to one year,
completely debt free
is apparently a success in the business world
(at least that's what "business" people tell me).

Last week it finally dawned on me,
I have been successful so far
BECAUSE I am an artist, 
not in spite of it. 

So my cafe is now one year old. 
She is finally sleeping through the night, standing up on her own, and getting ready to walk by herself. 
Patterns and routines have settled into place,
 easing some of the daily uncertainty and decision making
and now everything feels like this has been our lifestyle forever.

And the best part of all,
is that I just love spending the majority of my days
in this special little place in the world.
Please come by and help us celebrate one year tomorrow.
All small hot beverages will be only a Loonie!