'The paintings that most satisfy me express my inner response to the world around me.
It’s my way of saying “Look! Do you see what I see?”
I don’t care so much about showing exactly what something looks like,
I want to show how it makes me FEEL." ~ Angela Fehr
Q. Please tell us a bit about yourself. Anything you’d like to share, perhaps where you live, where you were born, your family.
I was born in Dawson Creek but when I was ten, my parents became missionaries and we moved to Papua New Guinea. This was an amazing experience for me, living in a tropical rainforest in a remote location, with no social life, I had the freedom to explore my own interests and they always turned back to art. When I was 18 I moved back to Dawson Creek and took my first watercolor class with Edna McPhail. This started my relationship with watercolour and it’s been a marriage that has changed my life!
Q. Can you tell us when you first realized that you enjoyed creating art and wished to become an artist. Is there a particular person who supported your decision to pursue your goals? If so, in what way did you feel supported? If so, how did you feel?
I’m so thankful to my family upbringing, which is one of creativity and handwork. One of my earliest memories is attending a giant craft sale in Edmonton where 4 members of my family had booths of their art/handiwork for sale. I have always been surrounded by artists, even if they did not describe themselves as such, and when I married I was surprised to realize that my husband’s family prioritized creativity in much the same way. They are all makers and we thrive in that. However, I never expected that art could be a career for me; I didn’t know a single person actually making a living off of their art.
Q. What is your motivation for creating art?
This is something that takes years to articulate, I think, because making art is so deeply instinctive. The paintings that most satisfy me express my inner response to the world around me. It’s my way of saying “Look! Do you see what I see?” I don’t care so much about showing exactly what something looks like, I want to show how it makes me FEEL.
Q. Do you have a favorite medium and if so, why?
Watercolour and I have been a team for 26 years. I think that in working with one medium so consistently for so long, we’ve developed a trust and a knowledge level, and yet I get to continue to push the limits of what watercolour can do and be surprised by it every day.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about some of your artworks and what they mean to you?
My favourite paintings are the ones that I’m a little embarrassed to show at first. They aren’t always the most technically accomplished, but they have a quality of life that delights me and feels true to who I am. Truthfully, they are not often chosen for juried shows, but to me I could not offer anything less. I always want to share my most authentic work; it’s my own personal integrity as an artist. When I start a landscape painting, I expect to have to paint it a dozen times or more before I find the spark of truth and authenticity that tells me I’m finished. It’s so exciting when that happens!
Anticipating the Climb, Watercolour by Angela Fehr
Christina Falls, Watercolour by Angela Fehr
Winter Deer, Watercolour by Angela Fehr
English Winter, Watercolour by Angela Fehr
Q. When you create art do you listen to calming music, are you thinking of anything in particular or have any emotions at all?
The best paintings happen when I am fully in the moment, when nothing else exists but me and the painting. This means sometimes I need the distraction of loud music so I can shut off my fear of making a mistake. Other days I need to work slow, as though time has stood still.
It’s important to me to banish urgency, to lean into the unknown of “I don’t know how this is going to turn out.” I paint intuitively, so I am relying on the skills I’ve acquired in the past and the cues of the painting to guide my process.
Q. In our busy world, time can be an issue. Do you have any tips or tricks to find time for your art?
Because art is my full time job, people might be surprised to hear that I don’t make art every day, or even often during the workday. I have found that to treat my art as an evening hobby has made me more free and productive to make art for me.
Q. Is creating art your main profession?
Yes and no. I am a full time artist, but the majority of my job is primarily as an art instructor and teaching artists how to love their watercolor journey and develop their personal style is my passion. I have been privileged to grow my business to reach thousands of students all over the world, to be able to teach and travel internationally which is a dream come true. Today I employ a team of 8 to help me run my online school and community, and Angela Fehr Watercolour is a limited corporation. I really love business and art and I love the challenge that growing the business has presented.
Q. Can you tell us about any awards or exhibitions that have made an impact on your life?
While shows and awards aren't high on my priority list, my membership and long-standing association with local arts groups is something I am deeply thankful for. I first joined the South Peace Art Society as a twenty-year-old and they have been so supportive of my journey, hosting my first solo show and another solo show more recently, both at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. And I've been a member of the Peace River Chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists since its inception and I consider the friends I've made from these groups, as well as the Peace Watercolour Society, to be my art family. It's always an honour to show my work with these friends and mentors.
Q. Do you have any major goals for your art career?
Right now I am working on my first book on watercolour. It’s been a huge challenge and taken two years. Hoping to see it in print this year.
Q. What inspires you to be the best artist that you can be?
There is an incredible satisfaction in knowing you are working at the very best of your skill level. I am excited to think about where this journey will take me because with art, you are never finished. We get to keep refining and clarifying to bring beauty and purity to our work.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your art journey or inspiration so far to inspire others?
As artists we get to be out-of-the-box thinkers, people who see opportunities where others see obstacles. This ability to challenge thinking, ask “what if” and experiment is our superpower.
Also, don’t wait for someone else to give you permission to do what you want to do. I was incredibly fortunate that I started teaching online when I did, that I was willing to take a chance on designing my own career, and over time I developed the skills that were necessary to make me perfect for the business I wanted to have. I wasn’t invited to teach online, I decided to do it. When I wasn’t being invited to teach international workshops, I organized my own until it happened. I’m self-publishing my book. No one needs to give you permission to be the artist you were meant to be, be willing to try things, experiment, and put yourself out there. Not every experiment will turn out but consistency and stubbornness are big factors in growth.
Thank you Angela for taking the time to share your art journey with us!