Skintrack Sketches: Artist Lindsay Dew counts on memory to create mountainscapes

For Nelson, B.C. resident Lindsay Dew, art is more than a full-time job. When she’s not working as an art therapist or serving on the Nelson District Arts Council’s board of directors, Dew is in her studio creating mountainscapes of her own. Instead of working from photos, Dew uses her memory of past mountain experiences as her main inspiration. We spoke with Dew about how her love for Canada’s lands seeps into her work.

Image Title: Blue Bird

Backcountry Magazine: What’s your artistic background?

Lindsay Dew: I studied fine arts in Halifax, Nova Scotia at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. During my time there, I did an exchange program in Paris at École des Beaux-Arts; I was there for nine months working on my graduate body of work.

After I was done with art school, I moved back to Vancouver; I’m originally from the Sunshine Coast, the west coast of Canada. I ended up working in artist-run centers and galleries and then decided to go into art therapy, so I also have a psychology background as well as my fine arts degree. I love the balance of helping people through art in addition to working on my own pieces—one is more focused on process and the other is all about production.

BCM: What does the art therapy side of your life look like?

LD: I work primarily with youth one-on-one. It’s a way for the client to express themselves through art materials, another form of communication. A lot of art therapy is focused on the subconscious. My clients and I discuss the art they produce and their process, which creates avenues to what they’re really trying to say with their work.

Image Title: Nude

BCM: You create a lot of mountainscapes in your own work. Are there any particular mountain ranges you’re depicting?

LD: They’re actually totally spontaneous. But I’ve had many people ask me if it’s a specific range. It’s really neat how other people connect to my work and tell me their story. I like that my work is open to interpretation.

I grew up skateboarding and snowboarding—in that board sports culture—and that’s been a huge part of both my childhood and my adulthood. I grew up in Europe and Australia and when I left the nest, I lived abroad for a long time. After art school, I forgot about the mountains and was more focused on architecture and portraiture.

But I moved back to the Sunshine Coast—to Whistler—and then to Nelson, so it’s great to be back in the mountains.

BCM: What mediums do you use?

LD: I use acrylic paint, inks and lots of different varnishes. I miss oil painting, but I can’t really do that without proper ventilation because my studio is attached to my home. I’ve had to get crafty and go back into acrylics and inks, but it’s working for me, so I’m having fun.

There are so many layers and different mediums that go into my mountainscapes. I play with them a lot to get different textures, and I use fine brushes for detail. This process speaks to the layers of rock. With so many layers in my pieces and on the land, I often look to that process as a metaphor.

One of the pieces I did looks like Frog Peak, which is in our valley. Somebody pointed that out to me, and I realized, “Yeah it does. I drive by that all the time.” I am obviously getting inspiration from my surroundings, maybe more on a subconscious level.

Image Title: Gold Lion

BCM: How do your recreational pursuits influence your art?

LD: I live and play in the mountains year round. My inspiration for my artwork comes from time exploring in nature, whether it’s hiking, biking or snowboarding. I love to explore mountain trails and rock formations because it leads me to discover new textures in natural materials.

In the winter, I really come alive; I live to play in the mountains. I love the fact that the mountains have a pulse of their own. I study mountains wherever I go, focusing on ridges, chutes and saddles, so when I’m back in the studio creating a landscape, I develop what is in my mind directly from my own experience.

I look for shapes and objects in my paintings just as I would in natural landscapes. I don’t typically choose to work from photos because I’m more interested in the visual product that comes from a painter’s experience, communicated through their brush strokes and created textures.

Image Title: High Road

BCM: Since you’ve moved around so much, how does your work change based on where you are?

LD: I’m really inspired wherever I am. Canada is such a young country compared to so many of the other countries I’ve lived in. I love architecture and I think Canada’s monuments are our landscapes. They hold the history of our land; there’s a lot of knowledge that can be gained from the land we’re on. I try to highlight that and give thanks to where we are and that we’re able to be part of in the natural world.

To see more of Dew’s work, visit www.lindsaydew.com.

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