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I believe we are all creative. And every few months, I interview someone I’ve met who is living life with really special creativity. This month, I spoke with my cousin Amy, a photographer and artist who lives and works in beautiful Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. See more of Amy’s work at http://var/web/site/

My beautiful cousin Amy

Amy hand-paints a photograph titled “Festival of this World” for the SSAC Showcase exhibit on Salt Spring Island, BC.

Tell me about your work.

I fell in love with photography very early in my life. I was attracted to the medium as a blend of art and science, a means of both observation and expression.

After more than thirty years with a camera in hand, I can see that my collection of pictures form a sort of visual diary of my life. They are like a trail of crumbs, each representing a glimpse of places I’ve been, people I’ve encountered, or wonders of nature I’ve admired. Art has been a good, trusted friend, and a clear lens through which to explore the world, both around me and within. It is a language that helps me communicate what I see and feel to others, and it is the best way I’ve found to pay forward the beauty I feel so grateful to experience.

I have incorporated a wide range of techniques in my photographic art practice over the years. I used a traditional darkroom for twenty years, then moved on to incorporate digital techniques into my process.  I love to hand paint selected bodies of work with dry pastel, paints or encaustic.

What did you do before?

I’ve worked as a self-employed artist/photographer pretty much my entire adult life, nearly 35 years now. When I was a teenager, I worked a wide variety of jobs to earn money.  Around 20 years old,  I put two and two together and thought why not do what I love and earn money at the same time?

How did you come up with the idea to do what you’re doing?

Photography, and the way I practice it, has been more of a hatching and an evolution than an idea. Very early, and with the certainty that felt like a “calling,” I knew photography was a perfect fit for me. From the beginning, having decided that I wanted to weave livelihood and lifestyle together, the idea seemed simple (ha!)—sell enough pictures or photography services to afford to buy more film and paper, repeat.

Over the years since then, my path has been built brick by brick, one decision at a time and has been anything but simple. It has been a classic grassroots process of learning by experience that continues to this day. A primary guiding principle has been to base my choices about what to do, or what to give up, on how authentic the activity or art felt to me. If the shoe didn’t fit, or if it did then I grew out of it, I followed intuition (which always seems to bring risk with it) to what felt like the next right thing. Art has taught me that the best choice is always trying to draw me to it. It’s like following a scent. For sure, all of the choices that have led to the best outcomes in art and life for me have been guided by curiosity, love, sheer delight, and sharing.

How do you use creativity in your daily work and life?

I believe that just being alive makes each of us creative—all day, every day, and even all night in dreams. Through our choices and imaginations, we express ourselves creatively in the way we do any single large or small thing, including making breakfast, art and everything in between and beyond.

I try to pay attention to what life and the earth present to me each day.  I love how Inspiration often takes me by surprise, in quiet simple moments like having coffee on my front step, where all kinds of wonderful things fly by or sprout at my feet. When at all possible, and without analysis, I act on the inspiration by reaching for the camera (or iPhone), or a pen and paper, whatever. Inspiration sometimes feels like an invitation, other times it feels practically like an assignment. I just go with it, believing in the muse as a trusted friend.

What’s the next thing you’d love to create?

The first response that comes to mind is simply “whatever’s next”!

On a larger, more thought-out scale… I have been photographing and hand painting prints for such a long time that I have amassed what feels like the largest (visual) odd sock basket on the planet. For the past few years, I’ve been trying to sort through my images in order to manifest my dream of creating a series of curated collections of my favorite images from each category of work I’ve produced over the years. I’ve made peace with the idea that I’ll be chipping away at it for possibly a long while though, as there is other work to be done in the day to day, new techniques to keep discovering, and always, always the call of inspiration to serve

What do you think I (Annie) should paint that connects with you?

Oh my! I have always had a place in my home and studio where I put objects, books, pictures, seasonal bits of nature, flowers, leaves…These collections are constantly evolving and very inspiring to me.

I’ll attach a photo of one small example section from a current shelf in case it might inspire you for a painting? The little vase with grass is from summer, but in this season I would probably find a branch of apple or cherry blossoms to go there. I love single stems of lovely plants – you could put whatever you want in that vase to connect us!

Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. —Ansel Adams


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