Shirley Weiss, AFCA - Artist Interview

March 2021


"Art is good for the soul and whatever ails you!"

~ Shirley Weiss, AFCA



Q. Please tell us about bit about yourself. Anything you’d like to share, perhaps where you live, where you were born, your family.

I was born at Hythe, Ab, the youngest of a large family of 9 siblings. Most of those years were spent on our farm there until we moved to southern Alberta when I was 12. Later, we moved to Sunset House, Ab, where my husband-to-be found me and I have lived on our farm at Sturgeon Lake ever since. We have 2 children, who live nearby, 6 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. 

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

Drawing, colouring, doodling and painting have been a part of me ever since I can remember. My mom and dad both encouraged me and I was still very little when my dad taught me the proper way to draw a horse and it’s anatomy. I took art all through school (the last two years by correspondents from the U of A), and was always encouraged by my teachers, especially Miss McNaught (Euphemia’s sister) who I was lucky enough to have for two years. She had a great influence on me. In grade six (the year I left), my teacher entered my painting of horses in the Grande Prairie County Fair and it won 1st prize! I received a cheque for $1.00 - I still have the painting but not the cheque!

Q. What is your motivation for creating art?

My motivation and inspiration come from many different areas. I love to challenge myself and try things I’ve never tried before. I will study something and say to myself, “I wonder how someone would paint that, and I wonder “if” I can do it. And, sometimes when I get halfway through a painting and I think I can’t do it, my husband, family, or friends are always there to encourage me and say, “You can do it!”

When I was in my 20’s, I quit drawing and painting for about 40 years and just started again about 10 years ago. I am inspired by the world and everything in it!

Q. Do you have a favorite medium and if so, why? 

My favourite medium now is acrylic. When I was young I used oils. Acrylic dries quickly, is easy to layer over and hopefully, less toxic. I do love the effect of watercolour but am not comfortable using it. 

Q. Can you tell us a bit about some of your artworks and what they mean to you?

These are just a few of my paintings that are special to me:

My dad was a cowboy (for awhile) when he was young and this is him riding in the Calgary Stampede. I painted this from a tiny black & white photo. 

This is an area not too far from us and was one of the first paintings I did when I started painting. It is special, because some years ago when the Simonette River flooded, this area was totally wiped out and no longer exists. 

Feeding the Lambs - This painting is of my mom, brother, and I feeding our triplet lambs. I painted it in colour from the small black and white photo. Note: the sleeves on my coat are getting a bit too short!

Q. When you create art do you listen to calming music, are you thinking of anything in particular or have any emotions at all? 

When I create, I like to listen to music - country classic, jukebox oldies, or sometimes just quiet. When I get very involved in painting, I really don’t hear anything at all. 

Q. In our busy world, time can be an issue. Do you have any tips or tricks to find time for your art? 

My favourite time for painting is in the morning, after the housework is done, or early afternoon. I am a morning person, so evening is definitely not a good time. 

Q. Is creating art your main profession?  

Since I am retired, and no longer working in an office or farming, I would say that art is my main profession. 

Q. Can you tell us about any awards or exhibitions that have made an impact on your life?

Any awards, competitions, and exhibitions have made an impact on me, whether favourable or not. When I am not accepted into an exhibition or win a competition, I just think I will have to do better. 

Receiving my Associate Signature Status with FCA is a huge honour, as is being accepted as an Associate Member of Artists for Conservation, which is a world wide organization. 

Winning Beauty of the Peace, and  the GP Stompede’s first Poster Competition were also very exciting. 

Q. Do you have any major goals for your art career? 

Art is not only fun, but is great therapy. If we are blessed enough to have talent, we should make use of it and share our gift with others. My only goal is to be the best I can be; anything else is a bonus. 

Q. What inspires you to be the best artist that you can be? 

Looking at and studying, other artists work is a great inspiration to me. I love to see how they use colour, light, and shadow, values, etc., and what I can do to improve my work. As a realistic artist, I take great care to portray objects as real as I can. 

 Thank you Shirley for sharing your artistic journey with us! 

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