Whistler Landscape artist Chili Thom lives the dream. He’s self-employed, sells paintings around the world and the more time he spends out in the Whistler backcountry the more inspired he gets to create the next masterpiece. But “living the dream” is rarely as easy as it sounds, otherwise everyone would be doing it.
“Anyone has the potential to live exactly how they want,” Chili explains, “but what most don’t realize is it takes a lot of work. You have to believe in yourself, but you also have to believe in constantly going and working to accomplish what you’re aiming for.”
It’s been over a decade since Chili quit his “real” job and began chasing his dreams full time and the workload isn’t easing up. “This month I’m working on another big commission for Parks Canada, trying to come up with 12 pieces for the WSSF, doing a poster for the Whistler Half-Marathon, working on two tattoo designs and DJ-ing at least three nights a week.”
He also has to pop in and give a talk at the “Art for an Oil Free Coast” opening reception and film screening at the Scotia Creek Gallery on March 4. One of his recent paintings will be hanging alongside Canadian icons like Robert Bateman and Roy Henry Vickers.
What Lies Beneath. Chili’s submission to the Art for an Oil Free Coast show.
The Insider managed to catch Chili on some downtime and ask him about some of his favourite Whistler spots.
Go-to Breakfast Spot: Elements. I like the selection and the shot of fruit juice smoothie that comes with every plate. They also have the coolest salt and pepper grinders.
Favourite Lunch Spot: I don’t “do lunch” too often but I enjoy a quick stop-in at Gone Bakery because they have awesome soups and a cozy atmosphere to hang out in.
Favourite Après Spot: The GLC, by far.
Favourite Coffee Shop: Moguls because it is local and you can get a cookie the size of your head.
Favourite Mountain: Blackcomb for all-mountain riding but Peak Chair on a pow day is incredible.
Best Pow Run: We found a new line that is epic but I can’t disclose the location. Otherwise, Peak to Creek zone has some rad areas to get fresh tracks.
Best Cruising Run: Backstage Pass, on Blackcomb. I like to ride out the cat track and link it with Schoolmarm. I really love the cut of Schoolmarm, big natural turns. In the Spring it is just incredible to open it up in there.
Favourite Viewpoint: I love the top of Corona Bowl looking back at Blackcomb and the Glacier.
Best Place for Peace and Quiet: I love the Ancient Cedars out at Cougar Mountain. Always good to go for a walk up there to get grounded.
Favourite Place to See Art: The Scotia Creek Gallery at Millennium Place. It has revolving local talent so I can see the up-and-coming artists in town and all the new work they are creating.
Favourite Thing to Paint: Trees. Heavily snow-laden trees are fun because I can dream about pow turns while I paint them.
Best thing about Whistler in the spring: The return of the colour as the brown and grey snowbanks melt and green comes back to the valley. Then the croqueses start poking through and bring in the purples and yellows. Colour is always nice.
“Whistler and the Sea to Sky are the perfect place for me to live,” Chili says, “because it is so easy to access incredibly beautiful and powerful landscapes. But at the same time you really have to balance your lifestyle with your commitment to work. It’s super fun to go up the hill every day and party every night but that can backfire. If you are disciplined and can seize opportunities when they arise, this is the best place ever.”
Chili Thom. Mountains In My Mind