Excerpt from Federation of Canadian Artists article - September, 2018
PATRICIA MANSELL, FEATURED ARTIST
Our featured artist for this month is Patricia Mansell, a woman who is passionate about wildlife, as is reflected in her artist’s statement:
“One of the strengths of wildlife art is its ability to tell stories. In my paintings I try to bring out the individuality of each animal as it goes about its everyday life. I portray many endangered animals, hoping that bringing them to life in my art will raise awareness of how close we are to losing them.”
Patricia’s style was originally established as realism, but to speed up the process of working in oils, she increasingly did more and more of the preliminary work for her pieces in acrylic. Eventually, she felt she could switch to acrylics completely, and make this medium do everything she wanted it to do. She feels that she still has an “oil painter’s style”, even while working totally in acrylics.
For some time now, Patricia has been a Signature Member of the international, Vancouver based prestigious Artists for Conservation (AFC). Patricia told us,
“We use our art to educate people about the animals that live around us, and donate part of the proceeds from sales to promoting conservation causes. Recently I have painted six critically endangered birds as part of AFC’s Silent Skies Mural, an international collaborative super-mural mosaic featuring all 678 endangered species of birds of the world. The mural will form the centrepiece of the 27th International Ornithological Congress in Vancouver’s Convention Centre in August 2018.
While painting, I was very aware that our artwork may well be the last time many of these birds are depicted before they become extinct – a heavy responsibility.”
When asked what inspired her to become an artist, and by whom she has been influenced, Patricia had an interesting story:
“I had tried painting a few pieces in oils at my local art club in Kent, England, when I was 16, while trying to get my mum interested in painting as a pastime. She only painted one piece which I still have, but I was hooked.
However, I was 16 and no one else that I knew painted, so I dropped it, but hung onto my oil paints and brushes and brought them with me to Canada in 1981 when I and my husband emigrated to Edmonton, Alberta (I must have known somewhere deep inside that they would play a big part in my life). I was immediately captivated by the wildlife works of Robert Bateman and the way he was able to bring out the individual character and uniqueness of each animal while depicting them in a totally realistic way.
It wasn’t until 1994 that I could grab a couple of extra hours in my week (after raising two daughters) to allow me to take up a hobby, and I knew that I wanted to revisit my early interest in painting. I felt instinctively pulled to paint wildlife, and was excited by the challenge of learning from the best. The trouble was that there were very very few teachers of wildlife around and I could only tap into a few lessons, so for the most part I would have to be self-taught by following in the footsteps of some of the top wildlife artists.”
Recently, Patricia has downsized from a very large studio space to a bedroom of her very small apartment – a challenge for any artist, for sure! This meant keeping only the necessities, and making use of every inch of space.
“All that I really need though is my angled drafting table, side trolley for my palette, room for my computer (as I have to be able to research animal habitats and migratory habits etc.) – as long as I have these (and a chair to sit on) I can paint effectively in a small space. My bedroom studio is overlooking a beautiful pond with Kingfisher, Mallards, Canada Geese and Heron, and a mother Raccoon and her young – not a bad outlook for a wildlife artist even though cramped.”
When asked what advice she would give to an emerging or aspiring artist, Patricia shared with us what many artists are told, yet she refused to listen to this “advice”, and followed her heart’s desires:
” I was told so many many time by family member and friends – “Patricia, you know of course that you can’t make a living by being an artist, that most artists won’t amount to anything in their lifetime” – I am just so glad that I chose not to listen to any of them.
In each painting that I do I only ever focus on using it as a stepping stone to my next piece, challenging myself more each time, and keeping my inspiration of Robert Bateman’s work in my mind always urging me forward to do better. I am humbled and honoured to say that in August this year I will have seven of my paintings exhibiting with Robert Bateman’s work in Vancouver, the fifth time I have been selected to show with him and the other Artists for Conservation.
My advice to any aspiring artist would be to follow your star and never let anyone talk you out of it – painting will be your life raft and if your are lucky turn into your life’s work.”
Patricia’s ultimate goal is to reach her full potential as an artist. We congratulate her on the many successes she has already achieved, and we are sure she will continue to make an impact in our world with her beautiful wildlife paintings! Patricia closed this interview with these wise words:
“I realize now that growing as an artist is a never ending journey to be enjoyed along the way – I hope that “my full potential” keeps growing with me.”