OLDS — France Nadeau is the featured artist for the Olds Art Club’s fall show and sale which takes place Nov. 4-5 at the Olds Evergreen Centre.
On Saturday, the show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday it runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Nadeau, 59, is originally from Longlac, Ontario, a small town about three hours east of Thunder Bay.
She moved to Olds around the time of the pandemic to be with her sister and mother who had moved to the community.
It was an opportunity to be near the mountains and especially to bond with her mother who required some care-giving.
Nadeau had always done sketches, even as a young child, but didn’t really get into painting in a serious way until about 10 years ago after being inspired by an exhibition in a northern Ontario gallery.
“I was always so moved and impressed by how people could just paint a landscape. And I mean, I love being out in nature and stuff like that, so I thought, ‘someday I’d love to (do that),’” she said during an interview with the Albertan.
Initially, Nadeau took some art lessons from a close friend, but later took some online classes.
For the past six months or so Nadeau has been working at Nutter's. But before that, she worked at Sobeys.It was then that she decided to join the Olds Art Club after hearing about a fundraiser that club members were doing to help Ukraine.
“A lady by the name of Doris came to my till and said they were doing this and I thought, ‘oh, I want to help out,’ so I painted a little something,” she said.
“So I got to know the people and then yeah, I just thought, ‘this is the way,’ because to paint all by yourself and not show your art is not really conducive to any kind of growth or connection, which is why I paint in the first place.”
Nadeau works mostly with liquid and/or heavy body acrylics. She said oil paint dries too slowly for her liking.
She anticipates having at least 25 pieces in the show. When interviewed, Nadeau was working on one about three feet by four feet.
“With acrylics, I often work on two canvases at a time and if mine is too wet, I’ll put it down and then start a new one, because it gives me a new perspective,” she said.
She describes her work as “kind of intuitive.”
“It’s a little bit of imagery, a little bit of abstract. But it’s not landscape per se,” Nadeau said. “I like to put animals, birds, people (in there). But it’s very loose and kind of abstract-ey.”
“I don’t have a plan when I start painting. I try not to,” she added. “I don’t paint from a picture. It’s mostly from experience and just showing up and not having a plan.”
“I feel like I’m still developing my style.”
Nadeau said she's really coming to enjoy living in Olds.
"I’m getting really fond of the quietness, the open space,” she said.
“I live not far from the Botanical Gardens at the college and I love that. It’s my sacred space, I tell you.”
Nadeau enjoyed last spring’s Battle of the Brushes, a revival of the Art Battle which ran from 2014 until it was sidelined by the pandemic.
In that event, artists complete paintings in competition with each other during several rounds and the crowd votes for the winner.
Last spring’s event raised about $,000 for the BGC Olds and Area (formerly known as the Boys and Girls Club of Olds and Area).
If another Battle of the Brushes is held this spring, Nadeau was asked if she would take part.
“I mean, I’m always up for a challenge, so who knows?"