I chatted with Angela Stadlwieser-Smith prior to this past weekend’s Night Of Artists in St. Albert, Canada, where she was showing and selling her amazing art alongside dozens of artists.
Angela is very much an empathetic person. She had many, many profound insights that left me contemplating them the entire afternoon after we spoke. As a dad, I especially loved one of her reasons for focusing so much on her artwork (Hint: She has a 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son).
Oh, and this is a pre-apology to her husband. He, like me, is married to an artist (obviously). I’m sure he’ll be forgiving after he reads through Angela’s response to question 11. ?
[Featured Artwork: “Just What I Need” by Angela Stadlwieser-Smith. 24″x24″. Acrylic on wood panel.]
The following responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.
01. Rock, paper, or scissors?
I’ve seen the question asked of other artists so I had to practice it to see which one. I know it’s not paper. I’m pretty sure it’s scissors.
02. What are three interesting facts about you?
A. I used to live in Fox Lake, AB. It’s on a Cree nation — Little Red River — that’s northeast of High Level. I lived there from before I started school until Grade 4. It’s a fly-in/fly-out community (not accessible by ground transport). Both my parents were teachers in the Indigenous school there. So, when I did my art teaching practicum as a teacher at the amiskwaciy Academy on the former municipal airport lands in Edmonton, it was interesting being able to pull on my experiences as a kid and going full circle.
B. One time I won $300 in a karaoke contest. It’s the most cash I’ve ever won. It was pre-kids, so like 15 years ago. I sang, “I Got You Babe” on stage in a bar. It’s quite embarrassing.
C. I own 13 original artworks from artists in the Edmonton region that I proudly display in my home. If you count prints, I have more.
03. Is art your career or a hobby? Something else?
It’s definitely in between. It’s something else. I don’t want to just say it’s a hobby because that undermines it. I’m a teacher and I chose to be a teacher but, if I wasn’t teaching, I could definitely see myself locked in a cabin somewhere just painting. I’m an introvert so being a teacher takes me out of my comfort zone and helps me pay the bills really well. My husband is a teacher as well, but I do love to create.
I have put painting on the backburner for a lot of my life and over the past few years I’ve said, “No, it’s not ok at all.” And, especially over this last year, I’ve made it a priority to paint five days a week and track my sales. So, I’m a teacher, but I also paint, and I’m also a parent.
04. Have you cracked the business side of art? Promoting your work, generating client interest?
This is my struggle. I have a hard time with the promotion part and a hard time with selling my art. It’s not something that’s easily in my skillset. And, every so often, I go through hills and valleys of not being able to promote myself. It’s definitely something I’m working on.
05. What fad do you hope comes back?
Well, I don’t actually hope it comes back because I wouldn’t do it, but the wild hair. It would be great to see people with combed-up bangs like I had in Grade 7.
I also thought of leg warmers, but I think they might already be back.
06. What’s the best single day on the calendar?
June 29. It’s my son’s birthday and it’s also usually the first day of summer holidays. It bugs my daughter a little bit, but she understands the reasoning.
07. What is the main medium you use in your art?
Definitely acrylic on wood board.
I have worked with oil before… pre-kids. When I went to university to do my Fine Arts degree, I started with acrylics but then moved into oils doing figurative work. But I’m expressive when I paint. It’s kind of in the moment and I found that with oil paint it got every where and it would rub off everywhere.
08. Where did your passion for art start?
I’ve always enjoyed drawing. I’ve always enjoyed creating right from an early age. My parents were not supportive of the arts. So, at school, when I was in art class in junior high is when I had an art teacher that noticed my artwork. I had other teachers previously who commented on my art and it felt good, but this teacher, she gave me a sketchbook to use that I took home to draw on and create. It was nice to get that recognition.
It was just something that always came natural to me. There’s lots of times where I put it on the backburner. Like I said, my parents did not support it. I grew up in a trauma-filled home. I used art to escape later on. What I couldn’t say and I felt I had to hide, I could say through art. I couldn’t say it at school, I couldn’t say it to my friends, but I was able to express it through my artwork — my drawings, my paintings.
It’s followed me all the way through until my late 30s when I decided I’m not hiding anymore about some of the things that happened. And now, I’ve decided I’m not going out broadcasting anything that happened, but I’m going to be me, I’m going to create, and art is important to me. I want my kids to see I’m doing something that’s important to me that I’m good at; to see me be successful and following my heart and my dream.
09. So, what inspires your art?
Art allows me to express what I can’t say. And that’s really important to me. My art, it’s expressionist, it’s rough around the edges, like me. Every piece, it’s not that everything’s perfectly level and all that. No, it’s messy, you might find a stray dog hair on there. But it’s meant to say something, make you feel something.
When I’m painting, it’s about how it feels when I was there with the landscape and experiences, but it’s also about what I took away and the moments that need to be captured in order to transfer it to the canvas. I’m a very empathetic person, a really feeling person. So it’s about having feelings come across in the artwork — something unified, something complete, but something that you can feel.
10. What is your go-to band or artist?
Right now it’s Vance Joy. I could listen to “Missing Piece” on repeat right now (YouTube link). I also definitely like The Lumineers. Local Edmonton artists are fun too. Someone like Ben Sures, who sings “Used To Have a Raygun” (YouTube link). There’s some good messages in it and I connect with it.
11. What song or artist do you like but rarely admit to liking?
That one’s hard. I can’t really think of one. But I do remember one time looking through my husband’s CD collection when we first moved in together years ago. He had Celine Dion. I didn’t even have it in my CD collection at the time. (Editor’s Note: Sorry to Angela’s husband. Since you’ve been outed publicly for Celine Dion, I’ll share that mine is the Spice Girls.)
12. Are you more productive at night or in the morning?
Definitely the morning. I’m an early riser, generally. I can’t remember how it was before kids but as soon as they go to bed, I want that time to relax. Whatever it happens to be — taking the dog for a walk or watching a show — I just need a break from everything.
13. What are you hilariously bad at?
I’m really bad at name-that-tune kind of things. I can never remember song names. There’s also a game called Hummzinger where you hum the tune of a song for someone else to get it. I’m so incredibly bad at humming the tune of a song.
14. What is your favourite drink?
I like Diet Pepsi.
15. What do you hope people get out of your art?
What I love is when you see someone connect to your art. You see them walking by and then you see them stopping to take it in. I want them to connect with a past memory or something they hope for that they see themselves in. Art is important. It brings us back to special times and it also gives us hope.
For me, usually, I’m connecting with a past experience. It’s those feelings that aren’t always necessarily spoken. Nothing has to be said, but we can share this connection and share these feelings together. So, connecting with a time that was important to them, familiar to them, comfortable to them. I want them just to feel when they see my piece.