“I want to add a little bit of beauty to the world.” — Vancouver Island artist, Lois Goodnough
A direct flight takes me from Calgary to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island. And as soon as I step out of the airplane, I notice it. Salty and breezy: the sea! It makes me excited for what’s ahead: a meeting with one of Try it ART’s new artists; in person, at their studio. A scenic drive from the airport, along the coast, takes me to Parksville, where I am about to meet Lois Goodnough; an intuitive figurative artist with a love for textiles.
Lois has a cozy little studio behind her house with lots of natural light flowing in. It’s her sanctuary, where she creates her contemporary figurative and floral artwork.
When I arrive, her palette for the day is laid out in front of her, and Lois is working on a new painting. As the interview progresses and paints dry, Lois gets up to work on it. Most artists I meet, prefer to work alone. So being able to witness Lois going through her creative process feels very special. What an honour!
Lois’ artistic process
Finding her inspiration in colours, Lois Goodnough’s paintings come to life during an artistic process which starts with selecting a palette. Colours come to her, they speak to her. Sometimes in the middle of the night on her way to the studio, or not until she is actually there. Once her palette is selected, she starts applying the paint. Very abstract, wild, and random at first; creating marks and texture. As the layers build, she brings forward those colours she appreciates more than the others. Lois: “Then I stand back and look. Where is it going now? It becomes more deliberate. Figures or florals start to appear to me once I begin the stencilling process. When the contours of my subject become clear, I get to the negative painting and finally, the detailing.”
This is where it truly gets exciting for this artist. “Colours colliding and intersecting; when it starts to look like fabric, that’s what absolutely excites me! Being very tactile and visual, I love everything about textiles: its texture, the look and the feel. It is also where my creative journey began.”
A love affair with textiles
Lois always wanted to go to a fashion design school. But life took her on a different path. She married young, got kids and started an office job where she worked herself up to management. Until 2003, when Lois and her family moved to the Okanagan and she began to travel more. Her trip to Italy inspired her to paint, where a trip to Dubrovnik, got her into doll making.
Then life took her to Vancouver Island and her artistic journey took a leap forward. Part of a supportive artists group now, the other artists enticed to pick up a brush again and there was no looking back. She absolutely loves what painting provides her. The circle is complete in her artistic journey now: her figuratives and florals combine her love for painting and doll making, with her first love for textiles. “I love where I am at right now. Painting gives me more freedom than the doll making. In ways, I am still creating those dolls and I appreciate it when people recognize my little love affair with fabric and colours!”
Meanwhile, Lois’ attention keeps going to the blues in her WIP, and she asks me: “Is that blue bothering you as much as it bothers me?” With the painting she started that morning now dry enough to continue, Lois takes a little break from the interview and starts with the stencilling phase. “I’ve got to tune down that blue!”
Some of Lois Goodnough’s work focusses around the #MeToo movement, and a few pieces speak about immigration. I ask if she is trying to communicate something specific with her art. Lois: “Not really, although I am clearly influenced by actual issues like “MeToo and immigration. But I truly just want to add a little bit of beauty to this world.”
“Do you think artists have a specific role in society?” She is very firm in that: “Yes! For most people art provides an escape. Art brings a bit of joy and colour, and a sense of amazement and wonder into the world. I also take issue with the fact that the arts are not valued enough by our government. Where there is so much evidence that art improves healing, and leads to better learning results when used in our education system.”
Her favourite work is definitely one of her newer paintings: “Earth Mother”, a12x36” acrylic on a cradled wood panel with rich earth tones. “As my paintings become larger, they get more and more interesting and powerful. And although I have my favourites, I am not attached to my work. I create with hopes somebody else will love my work as much as I enjoyed making it. Another favourite is “String of Pearls”. That work makes me want to dance.”
A specific goal? “I don’t need to make a living off of my art, but I like the feeling of people enjoying my art in their home. I am spreading my wings and get my work out there.”