The trio had about 140 pieces on display when they opened their exhibit last night at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. The scenes were as broad and diverse as one might expect a life’s mosaic to be, and they explained the exhibit was meant to capture some of the important moments and memories in each of their lives.
“For me, it’s all those incidents in life that add up to be my picture of my life, and the picture of Jane’s life and of Wendy’s life, and it was interesting to see how much there was in common,” said Jackson. “It’s quite apparent that life is a blend of highs and lows, and in the end, it still makes a great picture.”
“I think when we looked back on our lives we realized we’ve all done more things then we really thought we had, and there was a common theme in that all those different components that made us who we are today,” added Kelly. “We just all realized that being this age is a good thing because you do have a lot of tiles to put in that mosaic.”
Jackson said the three of them share a lot of common experiences, such as raising families and the joys and struggles that come with that. She said they are also quite different in some respects in that Kelly and Butters prefer to paint the outdoors where she enjoys painting people.
“I’ve always been a portrait artist of children, and that’s kind of my primary focus,” she said, adding her passion for painting really began after she had her first child.
It was obvious her Christian faith also plays a big influence on her art as she had many pieces on display with religious themes. Jackson said it was fitting that the show was called Life’s Mosaic because around the same time they decided on the title she was working on completing a mosaic made from paintings she had done over the last 20 years, arranged to resemble the likeness of Jesus Christ.
She added the people and scenery of Tumbler Ridge also offer great inspiration.
“Tumbler Ridge is a special place,” she said, adding that she moved there 11 years ago. “As soon as I saw Tumbler Ridge I felt like I had come. It’s a beautiful town.”
Jackson works as a part-time swim instructor/lifeguard at the local pool, and she said that has given her the freedom to pursue her passion.
“Now that the momentum is here, I’m just picking up my paintbrush every day like this is it, this is what I want to do.”
Jackson met Kelly when Kelly moved to Tumbler Ridge two years ago and joined a local arts club that meets weekly. Kelly has been friends with Butters since the two were in high school together, and they were also in arts club in Cochrane, Alta.
The two share a background in agriculture, and enjoy many of the same outdoor pursuits such as hiking. Kelly is now semi-retired in Tumbler Ridge, while Butters and her husband run a guide-outfitting company in Hinton, Alta., where she now resides.
Having lived in or near the mountains her whole life, Butters said she has found a lot of remote places to reflect and find inspiration from.
“There’s a lot of time to contemplate life,” she said.
The two said while they prefer the freshness of painting outdoor scenes right where they see them, for logistical reasons, and in order to remember the small but important details, they rely on a lot of the photographs they take.
Kelly pointed out one particular piece – an oil painting called “Trail to the Lake” – that depicts a very special day for her when she was travelling with her husband along the Banff-Jasper Highway.
“For me, it’s just a memory of a perfect day as much as anything,” she said.
Butters added her paintings can often invoke a flood of memories back of a particular feeling or moment she experienced.
“When you look at your picture after you’ve painted it you can feel the sun on your face when you were hiking, or if it was cold or fresh, or maybe you saw a wolf over on this hill, and just remember all those things.”
The two admitted preparing for the show over the last year-and-a-half was a bit stressful, but also fun and it gave them a goal and a purpose to drive them. All three artists said painting has added richness to their lives and is something they will continue to do.
Their exhibit is open at the gallery until Sept. 10.