Susan Schaefer still has the first oil painting she ever made.
It was a partridge in a pear tree, painted when she was 15 years old after receiving her first set of oil paints from her parents, while living on a farm in Saskatchewan.
“I remember them telling me ‘these are really expensive, so you’ve got to make sure this is really what you want to do’,” she laughed.
That was in 1974.
Today Schaefer continues to create vibrant acrylic and watercolour paintings. She likes to paint land and seascapes, sunsets, Mexican scenes, pottery and the odd Prairie cow, among other eye-catching images. Her work is currently hanging for sale at the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply.
Schaefer moved West after graduation and took a computer graphics course through the Emily Carr College of Art & Design in Vancouver in the early 1980s. This opened her eyes to the world of graphic design and she continued taking classes after moving to Toronto, and learned everything she could about the printing process. Following that she ran her own graphic design company in that city.
From Toronto Schaefer did some travelling to the Caribbean Islands and Latin America, where she had a business for a number of years creating post cards and distributing them. The post cards featured her art work and graphic designs and also blended the two. She took many photographs during her travels, including underwater shots, where much of her inspiration for her paintings came from.
Upon moving back to Saskatchewan, Schaefer continued to paint and also ran a graphic arts business. She published the Prairie Guide Magazine, the annual Travel guide and the Prairie Guide Valley Calendar. Today she continues to work on publications for that province.
Since moving to the Island in 2007 Schafer has created a successful magazine called the Island Arts Magazine, currently in its sixth year of publication. The magazine is distributed from Cowichan Bay up to Port Hardy, and includes some gulf islands.
Schaefer also created the Island Arts Expo held in Qualicum Bay for the past five years. The expo features 24 artists, live music, food and workshops, and last year attracted renowned artist Robert Bateman to come give a talk.
“Every year it just gets better,” said Schaefer. “Last year, we had over 1,000 people come in. And it’s really good for the whole community.”
In May she will be fulfilling a long-awaited dream of visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico on an arts and culture tour.
“I just know it’s going to blow my mind,” she said. “And my colours are going to become even more bright when I get back.”
Schaefer continues to paint for the same reasons she did when she began so many years ago on the farm. It’s simply the feel of the paint going on the canvas, she said, it reminds her of being a carefree child and having fun.
Stop by The Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply to see some of Schaefer’s paintings or visit her website at www.youngatart.ca.