Lynn Hachey Nordhagen - Artist Interview
'Like anything, if you love it, make time for it. There is not a day that goes by that I’m
not reading about art, watching art videos and doing some form of art, no matter how small.'
~Lynn Hachey Nordagen
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 and raised in the Peace area; specifically I spent my whole childhood in the small francophone town of Falher. I didn’t, however, realize I was French until I left to go to university in Edmonton, where to my surprise not everyone spoke ‘franglais’ or a mix of English and French. Growing up we spoke a lot of English in our home for my sweet older brother, who had down syndrome.
Always having had a love for learning, I was excited to go to university, where I completed my Bachelor of Education at the secondary level with honours. I then received a Northern Alberta bursary, which encourages young graduates to work in northern communities. I was thrilled to get a job not too far from home and my family, where I could help with my brother. My first position was in Hythe, in the middle of government cutbacks and layoffs, where I taught art at the junior high and three years later at Beaverlodge Regional High School. I have enjoyed teaching many other different subjects including Social Studies, Yoga (I am a certified Yoga Instructor) and French. I am now married to a farmer and have a wonderful family of my own. It has been one of the greatest adventures of my life raising three teenagers.
Q. Can you remember the first time you realized you liked creating art and wanted to become an artist? Was there a particular person who was instrumental in aiding your decision or helping you to pursue your goals? If so, in what way did you feel they helped?
I have always loved art; it was and is, something I turn to, in order to get lost. When I was really young I created my own Garfield cartoons and always painted beach sunset scenes. My favourite mediums in my teens and twenties was graphite and ink. At Hythe, I was asked to teach art because of my hobby. I did not have any formal training other than a GPRC community adult art class, that my high school teachers, at the time, pushed to have me join. Looking back, I wish I would have taken art as part of my degree, but in those economic times I was worried art teachers weren’t in high demand.
Once I had kids I let my art go in the whirlwind of new motherhood. It wasn’t until I had faced some huge losses and health issues did I turn back to the healing aspect of art again. I had lost my aunt to Alzheimer’s and was now seeing the symptoms in my Mom, who has since been diagnosed with this terrible disease. I also struggled with migraines from a horrible whiplash injury in a car accident, it was debilitating. Art was truly a healing balm in those difficult times.
Things changed on a regular trip to the library with my young kids when I wandered into the art section. Flipping through those pages was a major shift; after signing out some of those art instruction books my passion for art was rekindled.
I started painting in acrylics and after showing some of my work to coworkers, I received my best advice. Katja Davidson was discussing my art and was encouraging me to continue to improve and follow my passion. I mentioned that once I retired from teaching that creating art would be my second career. She said, “Why wait, do it now.” Excellent advice!
Q. What motivates you to create art?
Art has been a refuge from the daily demands of working full time, being a Mom and running kids every day of the week to a variety of sports and activities. Like most people when creating art, time slips away and I am able to experience such joy. As one friend and art supporter perfectly summarized my experience in art, “You are living your best life!”
Another couple of sources of motivation are seeing inspirational art and nature itself. I love the work of so many of our PRFCA members, in addition to contemporary and past artists. I love the use of light and shadow by contemporary artists; like Tim Horn, Sarah Kidner, and Mike Hernandez. I admire the plein air work of Tom Tomson and the revolutionary under-lit work of Degas's ballerinas. All of these artists find the beauty of our surroundings and preserve it for our future enjoyment. Nature is a constant source of inspiration; I am constantly snapping pictures or memorizing a scene to paint later. Awareness of the beauty that surrounds us helps to ground or center me on a daily basis.
Q. Do you have a favorite medium and if so, why?
As I have stated I love learning, half my enjoyment of art is learning new skills and pushing myself to get better. I started back into art with acrylics, later expanding into oils and gouache. Presently, I am loving watercolours. I love different aspects of each medium: I love the ease of glazing in acrylics, the thick buttery nature of oils, the portability of gouache and how it can layer and marbleize, and finally the luminosity of watercolour.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about some of your artworks and what they mean to you?
Fall Colours 8”x10” (sold) oil on canvas board.
This piece represents my obsession with the play of light and shadow.
Sunshine and art both fill my heart; both are represented by this piece. While I love painting ‘en plein air’ or outdoors,
I often can’t stop to do so. This image is one from my daily drive to work; everything glows in the early morning fall light.
A Good Day On The Water (sold) 14”x8” watercolour on paper.
This piece was my first foray into the world of watercolour this fall.
I have definitely fallen in love with this medium.
This piece also is an example of another regular subject for me—water. Being near water is always both revitalizing and relaxing for me.
This subject was from a family vacation, by painting a scene it permanently imprints the emotions and enjoyment I experienced on the trip.
A Happy Chikadee (available) 3.5” x 5.
This is my most recent completed piece; in fact I painted it on New Year's Day.
It represents how I believe you need to set out your intentions by practice. I intend to continue to incorporate and enjoy art in my life on a daily basis.
This little chickadee keeps landing on our lilac bushes outside my living room window. I had to piece together a bunch of different images to get an image to paint, because this little guy was so fast moving.
Q. When you create art are you thinking of anything in particular? What sorts of emotions if any, arise during the creation process? Do you listen to music and if so, what is your favorite?
Creating art is about the journey, the journey we all have in making a life and choosing to learn, to grow, and to improve. The subject I choose are often based on the play of light and shadow, I sometimes feel like sunshine truly charges my soul or fills my cup. I love learning from what I create, to inform my next piece to keep growing.
When I paint, I may or may not have music playing, but to be completely honest, everything falls away. I get lost and completely enveloped by the process of creating art.
Q. Just about everyone is guilty of procrastination at times. Do you have any tips to find time for your art?
Art book after art book, workshop after workshop will all tell you the ultimate secret to success is not some technique, material or tool—it’s practice. Everyone has places to be, things to do, or social media to scan, but the only way to achieve success is to get the miles in. Like anything, if you love it, make time for it. There is not a day that goes by that I’m not reading about art, watching art videos and doing some form of art, no matter how small.
Q. Is creating art your main profession?
Q. Can you tell us about any awards or exhibitions that have made an impact on your life?
It is an honour to be considered a member of the Peace River Chapter of Federation of Canadian Artists, to be included amongst the best artists in this area. I am proud to have had work exhibited all over the Peace, including the Grande Prairie Art Gallery. I have also had work in TREX, and received an honourable mention in a Federation show. Having set shows to prepare and submit art for is a great way to regularly create art.
Q. Do you have any major goals for your art career?
To continue to improve, explore and enjoy art and its many forms.
Q. What inspires you to be the best artist that you can be?
The love of learning and art itself. Art inspires art. It is also a wonderful way to meet like-minded people, people who share a love for art and learning.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your art journey or inspiration to inspire others?
As my friend, Katja, has stated, “Why wait, do it now!”
Lynn can be reached via email -
Thank you Lynn for sharing your art journey with us!