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Skai Fowler, Interview

The two questions I get asked the most


How long does it take me to do a painting? 


It takes a life time. I’m not able to create one painting without having done the previous one. Each piece builds on the next.


Where do I get my inspiration and ideas from?


I’m inspired by my surroundings, my personal experiences, my approach to life and how I live my life. I am amazed by colour and I love its’ energy, its’ many meanings and associations.  Exploring and transmitting the expressive energy of colour is my life’s pursuit. It’s a constant learning curve. Colour means so many things emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, visually. When I talk about colour I don’t just mean the colour of paint I mean the world of colour of light and shadow. The main purpose for the colours I use changes how we feel, it connects us to memories and possible futures it connects us to our charkas, our energetic life within and around us. There is a transformational power there and I realize I am a vehicle for bringing about transformation through artistic expression. I am blessed with the ability to create joyful paintings, through joy comes change.


I work in themes. For example; a few years ago, I was having a difficult time appreciating the city I live in. So, I started to listen to the sounds of the city. I would walk from home to the studio, about 7kms, and listen to cars, airplanes, birds, people talking and walking, the sounds I made while walking. I then opened myself up to the different energies that different places in the city have.  It is this that inspired the Urban Energies series. The works are an expression of myself moving through the city and the appreciations I have gained for the city.     


Another series, Love Poems to the Soul developed as a natural evolution after the death of my mother and it’s about our current relationship now that she is in spirit. I found myself painting in a very different way than I had ever done before, I felt some essence of my mother co-creating the work with me. My relationship with her grew stronger through these paintings. I certainly felt my mother’s presence but I had no idea our relationship would take this form, in these very amazing paintings. 


I never know if a series is finished or not, I won’t know if it’s finished until I die – and who knows maybe not even then. You never know what’s possible.


Those are two examples of things that have inspired me: colour and life/death. 


The series I’m working on now, Stumble Into Life, is about the act of creating a painting. I started with the idea of a colour field then I insert personal signifying marks, some expressive detail into the painting.  The gestural marks I make inter-relate with the colour field. I’ve always been interested in abstract painting, it can stretch the technical and the expressive, it’s an amazing challenge in which I create ideas and set the parameters for how I want to create.  I get a deeper understanding of knowing what I want, I clarify my vision of what I’m going to do by making sketches and thumbnails of colour, design and composition.   I start from there and then translate that onto a bigger piece of canvas.  Once this foundation is layered I improvise, it’s a dance between what is happening on the canvas and what I have in mind. And yes, sometimes it goes off in a completely different direction then expected, and that is something to celebrate.


Through 30 years of artistic practise I have an accumulation of experiential knowledge. I study and research information about all sorts of different aspects of painting but I don’t think about those things while I’m painting, it’s much more visual, it’s something in me expressing itself. 

I love being alive in this world and I shine by creating images that express that love.



Skai Fowler © Vancouver 2020


bg_39471398451421.jpgEmbedded Rock, Acrylic on Canvas, 30" X 24"


This painting, Embedded Rock, was inspired by a small rock embedded in sandstone at the Provincial Dinosaur Park, Alberta, Canada. When I paint images from this incredible landscape, its not only the amazing formations and exposed layers of history that inspire me but the personal connection that I have to this particular part of the world.  My grandfather was the first park ranger when it was officially designated a provincial park. I spent I lot of time there as a child wandering around the surreal landscape. Now when I return I have the memories both visual, in my minds eye, and visceral, a body memory. My grandparent ashes are scattered there and this makes for yet another layer that merge and informs my approach to the badland paintings. I don’t always need to have such a personal connection for my inspirations, but I do need a connection. This convergence, for me, is a combination of the magic and wild part of life, a feel of a place, person or object and spirit. Much of the impetus behind my abstract paintings comes from this converging of energies.


This is an image from the Dinosour Park



As an abstract painter I draw from at least two forms of inspiration, one being my environment, from my studio to the city to the landscape of ocean and mountains. In the landscape I see different layers of colours, shapes, lines and textures. When I work this way I feel myself connected to the scene I am painting. I feel the roots of the tree growing, the steadfastness of the rock, and the energy of a building. And it is this connection that I translate to the canvas expressing another layer of our multifaceted existence.

Another form of inspiration comes from an internal source, but more about this at another time.






We had a small show at the Banff Centre, here's the work I put up in the show.


working in the vertical.

Here I am working on large canvases, 12' long, at the Glyde Hall studio. I have northern light,which is fairly consistant through out the day and a real pleasure to work with. 




Valley of the Moons, 18" X 72" from the badlands in southern Alberta.


Janurary 2013


The way I work

I often start with sketches some from nature some from my urban environment. The sketch inspires the composition. I will then gernerally work on several paintings at once, usually three or four.  I apply washes for backgrounds and continue layering washes and glazes until the spaces and colour saturations reach a certain point.  Then I focus on one canvas at a time and start painting the details.  I will then start the same steps with the next set of canvases. 


Later I step back and look at the series as a whole, seeing how they relate to one another. Some usually need changes or additions; others are complete, while one or two may need to take a different direction all together. The process is a continuous translation of emotion and psyche into composition, colour and line. The intended outcome of the series is to reveal different aspects of my connection with the Badlands. 


As a scenic painter for theatre ( I work at the GNW scene shop in Vancovuer, BC) I work in a large scale 50' by 30’ drops, using acrylic scenic paints and paint elevation plans from the designer. As a fine arts abstract painter I draw on my traditional training, working from sketches that translate to canvas, creating a composition, incorporating colour and line. These two ways of working inform one another in creating various sized works with their different execution techniques.