The featured artist in the May/June issue of WHERE Edmonton Magazine is the talented Samantha Williams Chapelsky. Her vibrant artwork has been displayed as far away as India and Italy, but this successful working artist was almost never an artist at all; “I was planning to be an engineer. [I] decided to apply to the UofA to [both] fine arts and engineering and see what I got into. I got into both and had to make a choice. I chose the art direction.”
For the last four years, Samantha has been creating, exhibiting, and touring her incredible oil and acrylic landscapes — inspired by her travels, and artists like Monet and Jules Olitski — around the world. She creates all of her pieces in her home studio in St. Albert; “ It works best for me because of the hours that I work (6 pm until 2 am) and I know that I can make all of the mess that I want, and clean it up whenever I want. My paint drips everywhere.” Like most artists I talk to, all that Samantha really wants is to continue creating her work and sharing it with the world; “Income aside, as long as I can get by, this is all I want to do. The more time I spend on my artwork, the more I improve, and the more I enjoy it. I think that my paintings show that I truly love this. You have to follow what you are passionate about.”
Here is our full interview with Samantha, continued from the article in the May/June issue:
WHERE (W): How long would you consider yourself to be a working artist — selling your work, exhibiting, touring?
Samantha (S): Probably about four years.
W: What would you consider to be your big break into the art scene?
S: I guess when I got my first solo show, and that was a pretty big deal for me. It was at the Daffodil Gallery in around 2011.
W: You are obviously a lover of landscapes, is that where most of your inspiration comes from?
S: A lot of it — the landscapes of where I’ve travelled and what I’ve been looking at while I’ve travelled are incredibly inspiring. I love going into galleries and museums as well though. Looking at different artists’ work is always inspirational.
W: What mediums do you use?
S: I use both acrylic and oil. I use acrylic on [one half of my studio] and oil on the other half. I love acrylic for the vibrant colours and for how fast it dries, and the oil — I just love the feeling of oil paints.
W: We featured your hand painted Habotai Silk Scarves in the gift guide of our November/December 2013 issue. Where are they sold?
S: At the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. I have shipped them all over the place as well, so some have gone to California and I have them up on an Etsy site. They are my fun, crafty activity. They are simple and fluid and look natural. They are not really stiff and confined.
W: I couldn’t help but notice the half painted wedding dress behind me. What is the dress for? A client?
S: It’s for a show I am going to be a part of in Vancouver at the Port Moody Art Centre. They contacted me and asked if I could fill their gallery with my silk scarves. I said ok, but the scarves are very small and they don’t take up a lot of space, so I thought I would do some tapestries, and the dress will fill the space as well. I think it would be so much fun if someone wore it at their wedding.
W: Do you take commissions?
S: Yes, I get a lot of commissions — and it is anything from a mother’s day gift to a birthday gift.
W: Approximately how much do you sell your pieces for?
S: It depends on the size. I feel like I am fairly reasonable. It can range from a few hundred to my max, which was $5000 for a painting that is 5 ft x 7 ft. For the most part, oils are more expensive then acrylics.
W: Are there any specific galleries in the city that you would recommend that a visitor check out?
S: I do love the little gallery strip on 124 Street. You’ve got the Scott Gallery, which is a great gallery; there are great artists in there as well. The Front Gallery has a couple of friends of mine, and I really like the Art Gallery of Alberta — such a fun building.
W: Do you have a goal for your work or career as an artist?
S: I so badly want to just be an artist. That is all that I strive for. Income aside, as long as I can get by, this is all I want to do. I love coming down here [to my studio] in the morning. The more time that I have been able to spend on my artwork, the more I think I am improving and the more I think I enjoy it. And that’s the best part, being able to see the improvement as well as the love of what I do. I believe that my paintings show that I truly love this — whether it is the colours or the style, it just really makes me happy. I think that you have to follow what you are passionate about, especially in the arts because they are not going to make you a fortune, but I don’t expect to. I want to get by and be ok, and travel the world and showcase what I can do.
Photos and interview by Lindsay Shapka