Sit Down with Artist Amy Dixon
“I grew up in a very rural area in a super beautiful part of the country, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. So, I’ve always felt really inspired by and drawn to the outdoors,” explains Amy.
Colour is also another main source of inspiration for Amy. “I’m less concerned with realistic depictions of a landscape, and much more concerned with reinterpreting them and depicting the way they make me feel,” she adds. “So, my pieces are typically abstracted in some way, but are still based on nature, whether it's a landscape, or flowers, or whatever else. I never really decided on painting landscapes, it just intuitively feels right for me!”
In 2009, Amy exchanged raging waters for vast prairie skies when she settled in Edmonton, Alberta. She has since been captivated by the yellows, blues, and pinks of Albertan summers as much as by the comforting stillness of frigid, untouched fields of snow during the winter months.
“I usually feel motivated to paint in seasons of change - spring to fall, fall to winter,” she states. “Big changes in my environment get me refocused on my surroundings and noticing sights and sounds that make me want to explore in my paintings.”
In 2015, Amy met Heather, Meadow’s owner, through the local market scene. “I immediately fell in love with her sense of style and aesthetic,” says Amy. The two of them became instant friends.
Two years later, Amy was getting tired of juggling a full-time corporate job and an art practice. So, she decided to quit her 9-5 job and focus completely on art. “Immediately after making that big change, my partner and I made a leap and traveled Europe for a year,” she says with excitement. “Scotland was our first stop.”
She loved how everything seemed haunting, ancient and so moody. While spending time in the Highlands and the Isle of Skye, the landscape reminded her of Cape Breton. “My first full collection of paintings when I got back to Canada was ‘Stravaig’ which is an old Scot word which means ‘‘to wander aimlessly’. We were there for a couple of months, and ‘wandering aimlessly’ is definitely what I did.”
When asked about the impact these travel experiences had on her and how it affected her art she answers, “From an artistic point of view, the list is probably endless but just purely being exposed to so many different environments, people, art, architecture has shaped my practice.” She continues, “I spent days wandering art museums admiring the works of the Masters… that was pretty amazing. From a very practical/non-romantic perspective, I learned a TON about the logistics of transporting and shipping art from around the world.” While travelling, she constantly painted both commissions and smaller bodies of work that she sold on her website. “One huge commission painting travelled with me from France, Croatia, Montenegro and Italy,” she reminisces.
“We certainly have our own issues with the postal service in Canada, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to navigate than a lot of other places,” she jokes.
Spain was next and one of Amy’s absolute favourite places in the world, “specifically, the southern part of the country,” she adds. “I love the mix of Christian and Moorish architecture. It has a fascinating history that is translated so beautifully into all of its iconic structures." One of Amy’s majors in university was history and her area of focus was the relationship between different cultures in the Iberian Peninsula. “I haven’t yet figured out how to translate all the things I experienced into my paintings, but it’s in my running list of ideas.”
It was also through a series of somewhat serendipitous circumstances, that Heather was travelling through Spain at this time and the two of them connected. "Possibly one of the best moments of the trip is when Amy and I stepped out of a flamenco night into the largest and most joyful Pride celebration I had ever seen," reminisces Heather. "People were dressed head to toe, singing, dancing, and open-air buses were cruising down the streets playing the most booming music. It was such a happy celebration."
Before heading back to Canada, the following two months were spent in Montenegro in a small, walled village called Kotor.
“We were there before the tourist season started, so it was completely empty, aside from locals and hundreds of cats,” she jokes. “Montenegro is a jaw-droppingly beautiful country, but has a complicated past and in many ways still feels a little undiscovered.” The country is still isolated in a lot of ways, and simple things like finding art supplies can be difficult. “I’m generally a go-go-go person and our time in Montenegro forced me to chill,” adds Amy. “Something I struggle with is slowing down, but I think really important creative breakthroughs can happen when you pause.”
Upon returning home, Amy expressed she felt prepared to launch her business in a more global way. “When we moved back to Canada, I transitioned into pursuing my art-practice full time,” she says. “For years, it was just my ‘side hustle’ and moving into this next phase was definitely daunting.” However, after committing she found her new path to be both exciting and fulfilling. “My community and my collectors have been incredibly supportive of my work,” she adds. “I still regularly pinch myself. Even when being a creative entrepreneur feels exhausting and overwhelming, I know I'm doing exactly what I'm meant to do.” Amy recently moved into a bigger studio and hired her first part time team member. “It's been great,” she adds.
Like everyone around the world, COVID halted all of Amy’s 2020 trip plans and she has been grappling with ways to stay inspired. “Instead, I’ve tried to use my art practice as a way to seek out the good in an otherwise bleak year,” she says. “Over the summer, I spent hours driving down dirt roads and taking day trips to spots outside of the city that, although not far from home, were still able to provide inspiration for me. I won’t lie, it hasn’t been easy and I’m itching to get out of the small geographic bubble I've been living in, but I think not being able to leave has also made me re-evaluate and really hone in on all the different ways I can get inspired.”
Amy believes that inspiration and creativity is like a muscle, “you have to continuously use it for it to get stronger,” she adds. “You build muscle memory when it comes to creating. So, I’ve been focusing on not stopping and not getting too stuck in my head.”
When asked if the colours used in her art are a reflection of her feelings at the time of creating that piece she answers, “Totally. As you can probably tell from my paintings, I’m generally a very happy person. The tortured artist stereotype certainly doesn’t apply to me.” Most of her paintings come from a place of joy, and so the bright, bold colours are a reflection of that. She also draws colour inspiration from interior design, textiles, fashion, and interesting colour combinations from nature.
Recently, Amy has been inspired through pottery and has taken a few classes, “which, for the record, I was terrible at!” she jokes. “I am obsessed with ceramics now,” she adds. “I have no idea how this is specifically going to be translated into my work, but the tactile and fragile nature of pottery is inspiring. Taking mud and transforming it into a beautiful sculpture or utilitarian object is so wild.”
When asked what a future collaboration with Meadow could possibly look like, Amy answers, “I would love to someday design a custom textile. I feel so viscerally connected to Meadow’s aesthetic and style, I know we could make something amazing. I’m imagining a beautiful scarf, or a slinky silk blouse. So many possibilities. Or, maybe an awesome co-event someday hosted in my art studio,” she adds. “When we’re allowed to safely be around people again.”
Lastly, when asked about what advice she’d like to pass on to the next generation of artists, she says, “Don’t be afraid to forge your own path and make up your own rules. I think traditionally there has been a pretty rigid trajectory and milestones to hit if you wanted to pursue art as a career. Those days are over. There are so many different avenues to connect with people and share your work.”
Amy adds, “I know Meadow was a long-time dream of Heather’s and I love nothing more than seeing my friends do what they’re most passionate about. Meadow has introduced me to so many new, amazing brands I wasn’t familiar with. Brands like Rachel Pally, Zulu & Zephyr, Seadog Designs, and Mercurial NYC.” These are now some of her absolute favourites. “What I also really appreciate about Meadow is their focus on slower fashion,” she adds. “Heather has a great eye for curating effortlessly cool clothing and home-goods...number one fan!”
At the time of this being published, Amy is currently working on a collection of smaller works being known as 'Range Road’ which will be released in November, 2020.
Connect with Amy:
Website - https://amydixon.ca/
Instagram - https://instagram.com/amydixonart
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/amydixonart
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/amydixonart
Story written by Dean Douglas (Douglas Marketing Inc) in collaboration with Amy & Heather.