Erinn Evans lives in a suburb next door to mine outside of Edmonton, Alberta. That said, I’d never met her before our recent Skype chat.
A mother of two teenage sons, she is finds time for her art while they’re at school.
During our chat, she had some thoughts and insights that I loved and I hope you do, too, as you get to know her a little better.
[Featured Artwork: “Forest Friends” by Erinn Evans. 20”x24” encaustic painting.]
The following responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.
01. Rock, paper, or scissors?
02. What are three interesting facts about you?
A. I have a teaching degree. I haven’t used it except for teaching art.
B. I have two kids and a dog.
C. I have a lot of tattoos. *lifts arms to show some*
03. What is the main medium you use in your art?
Encaustics. It’s painting with melted wax. The wax comes in pigmented blocks. My palette is like a heated plate that you have to melt wax onto. You have to paint on birch board panels because canvas is too pliable, it could crack. You have to reheat it using either a torch or heat gun to fuse it.
04. What inspires your art?
I always come back to that I have depression and anxiety. When I had my first son I had pretty serious postpartum depression. I think it revealed an underlying issue that I had most of my life that had never really been diagnosed.
I feel like when I paint it’s things that make me feel happy, or comforted, or smile. I don’t like the news, but even when you’re avoiding it you still get a lot of it. Usually when I paint, I do a lot of pet portraits. When I’m done a painting, if I smile, I feel like I’ve done what I wanted to do.
05. Are you more productive at night or in the morning?
I would say I get ideas more at night but I actually produce more in the morning or afternoon. I have kids, too, so sometimes it’s easier when they’re at school. Otherwise, I have noise cancelling headphones. *laughs*
06. What is the most unique thing about the city you live in? (Sherwood Park, AB)
It’s the largest hamlet in the world (with 70,000+ residents).
It has a pretty good art scene for a small place. Nothing too crazy unique about it but I’ve been here my whole life and it’s a good place for kids.
07. Is art your career or a hobby? Something else?
That’s something I struggle with categorizing. I have a part-time job that I work at and I have started teaching art for a few different places. I find the leap of saying I’m a professional artist brings out imposter syndrome.
Am I qualified to really say that? Yes, I do commissions and I sell paintings but it’s not like it’s enough for a full-time job yet. Also, part of me is scared to say I’m a professional artist. So, I’m going to say it’s a part-time job.
08. What kind of training do you have?
I have my Education degree but I actually minored in Art in university. So, I have some university training but not a ton. I’ve taken other classes throughout my adult life at places like The Paint Spot. That’s where I learned encaustics about five years ago and now I’m teaching at The Paint Spot. So, it’s kind of been full circle.
09. The art is one thing, but what’s your secret to generating interest and ultimately selling your art?
For my pet portraits, lots of it is word of mouth. Lots of the times I get commissions are from people who have seen something I’ve done for someone they know.
Instagram and social media you have to get on board with too. Now, at least, with COVID not being quite as crazy, a lot of the art walks are coming back. I find that at lots of art walks I don’t sell a ton because I only do original artwork, as opposed to prints, but I do end up getting a lot of commissions because they saw me and talked to me at one of these events.
10. Where did your passion for art start?
I always liked drawing. I have a girlfriend I run into sometimes that I went to elementary school with. She still has drawings of Garfield I gave to her when we went to elementary school . She thought they were brilliant and kept them for 30 years. I’ve always liked doing stuff like that and trying things whether it’s taking a flower-arranging class or taking crafting.
I think my mom used to take me to those classes because I was the youngest of three kids because it was like if she wanted to do any of these things she could leave the older two at home but she had to take me.
I actually have a great uncle who was a professional artist his whole life. I only met him a couple of times but I’ve been collecting his artwork over the last two years and it’s kind of fun to think about how he was able to make a full living up into his 80s as an artist and all the different things he did in that capacity.
11. What would be the most annoying thing about having yourself as a roommate?
I’m not the neatest. I have a friend who cleans for meditation and relaxation. That’s the opposite of me. I’m a procrastinator. I have the capacity to get a lot of stuff done but I have to push it right to the deadline.
12. What is your go-to band or singer?
I have a playlist on my phone for painting. I can’t paint to angry music or anything like that. I like music like Eddie Vedder with or without Pearl Jam. And Fleetwood Mac, too. I like to hit it a little old school when I’m painting.
13. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t got around to?
I have never really done a lot of plein air painting. Because I work in encaustics, I can’t do a lot of outdoor paintings. But I did a plein air session recently with artists from the Federation of Canadian Artists and there was an artist there that does sketchbook journaling. Her and another lady will do a sketch every day and one of them went to Europe and just did sketches. I think that would be a really neat thing to have to document your life in a really neat way and could be something really neat to leave your kids. I think that would be fascinating to look back on years from now.
14. What household chore do you actually enjoy?
I don’t mind folding laundry. It is kind of relaxing because I’m by the open windows to my backyard and folding laundry and that puts me in my own little world.
15. What app do you use most often?
That probably is the most used app. When I upgrade my phone, I always need the bigger storage option because the camera roll gets full.
16. What is one common misconception about being an artist?
I guess that it’s easy, maybe because it’s something one enjoys doing? I don’t think most people realize that it takes a lot of work and energy to produce art, not to mention all of the behind-the-scenes stuff required to get your art seen and hopefully sold. Not to mention how stressful it is having strangers look at and judge these pieces that are often a reflection of your most vulnerable thoughts and feelings!
17. What is your favorite drink?
Pina Colada. I’m girly like that. I need a fruity drink.
18. What do you hope people get out of your art?
I hope they smile.
I did a painting of Casey and Finnegan from Mr. Dressup (classic Canadian children’s television show) because that’s a happy childhood place for me. And I had a 60-year-old man that stopped at my booth at Strathearn Art Walk with tears in his eyes tell me that it brought him back to a happy place for him too. That’s like, “Job done.” You never know how your art is going to resonate with somebody else.
Even sometimes when you’re at an art walk and people are walking by quickly trying to not make eye contact but then, all of a sudden, something catches their eye and you see them stop and smile. I’m like, “Yes.” *fist pumps*