Whistler Artists on Finding Inspiration Outdoors

Snowy Whistler Landscape

Whistler Artists on Finding Inspiration Outdoors

Where natural beauty lives, so too do artists, and Whistler is no exception. Artists from around the world, and across disciplines, have flocked here. What starts as a visit, or two, often leads to setting up shop and putting down roots. With a high artist population it’s no surprise that we have a thriving art community.

You can engage with the arts year-round in Whistler though events like; the Summer Concert Series, Fall for Arts, Whistler Children’s Festival, Whistler Writers Festival, Whistler Film Festival, Cornucopia — to name just a few. There are also programs, courses, and events hosted by Arts Whistler, the Audain Art Museum, community groups, and individual artists. Local art peppers the walls of our cafes and shops, and public art can be found weaved along our walkways and parks — it really is everywhere you look.

Our artists are what make Whistler more than simply a ski town. They add a depth to the cultural experiences to be had here. With access to wildly different landscapes, changing seasons, and a vibrant community, Whistler artists have what feels like an endless supply of inspiration. We wanted into dig into their processes, and find out how Whistler embeds itself differently in their work.

Here’s what six, local, visual artists had to say about Whistler, and what inspires them.

Snowy Whistler Landscape

Inspiration is never far away. PHOTO JUSTA JESKOVA


Laura Scarr

Laura is an oil painter with a focus on landscapes, light, and wildlife.

How has Whistler influenced what, and how, you create?

I think an artist’s work will always reflect their surroundings. Growing up in Ontario I was painting mostly cities and buildings, but after living in Whistler for 11 years, it is really the forest, and the incredible light that cascades through it, that has captured my heart and imagination.

Where’s your go-to place in Whistler for inspiration?

The amazing thing about Whistler is that you are surrounded by inspiring landscapes the second you leave your doorstep. Inspiration can really happen at any moment; it could be a beautiful moment skiing through glades on the mountain, or the way light just barely trickles through the trees on the Ancient Cedars Trail. It’s the time of day that is most important to me. The light that bursts through the forest canopy during sunrise is my biggest inspiration.

How does your work reflect Whistler?

I am always trying to capture that incredible feeling of being completely submersed in the forest. Even when the weather is bad, the forest is beautiful.

Laura Scarr, Whistler Artist

Laura soaking up inspiration in the mountains.

Laura Scarr Painting

“Family” oil painting by Laura Scarr.

You can see Laura’s paintings on display from January 30 – March 4 at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

Cheximiya Allison Burns-Joseph

Allison is a wool weaver, who practices traditional techniques while incorporating her own modern style. She creates everything from wearable art to large tapestries.

How has Whistler influenced what, and how, you create?

Whistler influences my work by giving me inspiration in the colours I choose and the patterns I weave. One recent project I did had the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola woven into the wall hanging. The project was called Whistler and has been given to one of our tour partners.

Where’s your go-to place in Whistler for inspiration?

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is my main inspiration for weaving in Whistler. It looks out towards Lost Lake Park and the Cougar Mountain area, which are so beautiful.

How does your work reflect Whistler?

The colours, patterns, and designs I use to weave are reminiscent of Whistler. Most items I create are in blue tones representing the sky, lakes, and waterfalls that surround us here.

Are there any outdoor activities that are essential to your process?

Walking on the land helps me to ground myself. It makes me reflect on my ancestors and how they received inspiration for their weaving.

Allison, wearing one of her own weaving creations.

Wool Weaving of the Peak 2 Peak

“Whistler” wool weaving inspired by the PEAK 2 PEAK.

You can find Allison’s work at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, where you can also sign up and take a class with her.

Website: slcc.ca/allison-burns


Andy Anissimoff

Andy is an interpretive landscape painter known for his use of bright colours and bold compositions.

How has Whistler influenced what, and how, you create?

Most of my imagery is of the local landscapes, so these recognizable features have helped me build a bridge to people with my art style.

Are there any outdoor activities that are essential to your process?

Riding dirt bikes and mountain bikes in the woods. It’s a great escape, because you can’t think about anything else while you’re riding. I am able to take a mental break from my work this way, and get some exercise at the same time.

Any tips for artists creating outdoors, must have materials, or ways to stay warm?

You don’t always have to finish the piece, but there’s no substitute for being in front of your subject. So, I’ll get all the important information I need in the field, then finish things in the studio. I use an airbrush medium instead of water, as water and paint can crack when then dry as the water evaporates.

Whistler Artist Andy Anissimoff

Andy gets outside for a dose of inspiration.

Andy Anissimoff Painting

Andy’s signature landscape style.

You can find Andy’s work at The Tantalus Art Gallery, the Whistler Conference Centre and at the Whistler Farmers’ Market.

Website: andyanissimoff.com


Re:creation, Terri Gercovich

Terri of Re:creation makes unique hand made, and upcycled, clothing and jewellery.

How has Whistler influenced what, and how, you create?

As our climate in Whistler varies, and paired with the fact that most Whistlerites have tiny wardrobes / storage spaces, I design clothes that are multi-wear, or functional for most seasons.

Whistler is a beautiful place, the mountains and environment are constantly pulling us to play outdoors. My way of “giving back” is to help teach others about the importance of keeping our environment healthy. One way, is by making clothing and jewellery that is either upcycled, or is made in a sustainable way with more sustainable elements.

How does your work reflect Whistler?

I like to create unique, mindful, and beautiful clothing and jewellery. I feel this is a reflection of the beautiful surroundings of Whistler, as well as the people and community we have here. Whistler has that “special something” — it inspires me. It makes me want to encourage others to see that special something in their own lives, as well as remind everyone that we are all unique.

Are there any outdoor activities that are essential to your process?

I have to get out in nature every week. Whether it’s a hike in the mountains, a camp by a lake with friends, a kayak paddle down the river, or some fresh powder turns in winter. Life isn’t all work and no play, a big reason for starting my own business was so that I could have time to enjoy my outdoor hobbies.

Nature helps to reset and clear the mind, for me, it’s another form of meditation, which is essential for my creative process. The colours, smells, fresh air, and good times can help create an idea. All to often, I’ll be hiking up a mountain or snowboarding, when I have to stop to write down or record a new idea!

Re:creation, Whistler Art

Terri wearing her unique poncho creation while exploring one of her favourite places.

re:creation jewellery

You can find Re:creation pieces at The Oracle, Nita Lake Lodge and at the Arts Whistler Gift Shop inside the Maury Young Arts Centre.

Website: recreationdesigns.ca


Dave Petko

Dave is a tattoo artist, painter, and illustrator, who also creates and builds art installations for music festivals.

How has Whistler influenced what, and how, you create?

Whistler is a party town and almost everyone I have known in Whistler in the past 26 years has partied. Although I’ve been known to party, I like to paint in the evenings, and if you want to paint, you can’t party. So, to swim against the current and not party, but to create art instead, that is one way Whistler has influenced the way I create. Going against the grain.

Where’s your go-to place in Whistler for inspiration?

I go to the forest for hikes and walks to get inspired. My sketchbook and my studio are also sources of inspiration — there’s nothing like being around art to get one stoked to make art.

Are there any outdoor activities that are essential to your process?

I spend a lot of time out in the woods, walking, harvesting, listening, sitting — cleansing the soul so to speak. That recharges me and helps me get back inside to create art.

Dave Petko, Whistler Artist

Dave on one of the forest hikes that help inspire him.

Dave Petko Illustration

You can find Dave’s work in Whistler at Black Ohm Tattoos and in local, group art shows.

Website: davepetko.com


Salt & Snow, Kim Maitland

Kim creates one-of-a-kind textiles and home furnishings inspired by the outdoors.

How has Whistler influenced what, and how, you create?

Living here, you have the chance to escape into wilderness and into your own head. I see patterns and shapes everywhere in nature — in water, ice crystals, light filtering through trees, on tree bark, and cedar boughs. I try to pay attention and find the beauty in the everyday — noticing the patterns of the ice crystals as you scrape the windshield or tiptoe over frozen puddles.

In the summer months, I’m able to expand and work outside and make a big mess — a luxury I couldn’t dream of when I lived in the city.

Where’s your go-to place in Whistler for inspiration?

Anywhere my dog can run free, and see very few people. I love the trails and river paths behind our house, and the empty golf course takes my breath away late at night, lit by a million stars.

How does your work reflect Whistler?

The colours and patterns of natural indigo are right at home in a snowy Whistler landscape. I grew up on Vancouver Island and love to explore the pull that draws people to the ocean, as well as to the mountains.

I’ve always loved design and everything handmade. As an introvert, I get recharged at home and recognize the power that physical spaces have on our moods and energy levels. Especially in Whistler, where the weather can be so unforgiving, the power of home, shelter and warmth is so important. I know how much I look forward to coming home after a long day, to relax or to sleep in my own bed after a couple nights away, so I’m always honoured that people buy my pillows and bed linens to use in their homes.

Kim of Salt and Snow

Kim in her indigo colours in the woods.

Salt and Snow Pillows

Abstract patterns inspired by nature.

You can find Salt & Snow in Whistler at the Arts Whistler Gift Shop at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

Website: saltandsnow.ca


Have these Whistler artists inspired you to visit the muse? Discover more local art at one of Whistler’s galleries, on a tour, or at an upcoming event. Head over to Whistler.com to start planning your own art adventure. 

Nikkey

Nikkey

Nikkey got her start in Whistler as an outdoor guide and the habit of talking about the place has clearly stuck. Whistler’s general laid-back lifestyle and immediate access to fun is what’s kept her around. When not hanging out on the Whistler Insider team Nikkey works as a freelance creative for outdoor and wellness brands. Nikkey’s favourite Whistler animal is the marmot- she just wants to pinch those fluffy cheeks! (but never would because she respects wildlife and really likes having her fingers attached to her hands.)

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