Memories of a happy day with family and friends have earned artist Lisa Figueroa first prize and top honours at the Federation of Canadian Artists show in Kamloops.
Hosted by the Thompson, Nicola, Shuswap chapter of the federation, the show is a call to artist members from across the country.
Figueroa’s winning painting, “Lilies of the Upper Eagle,” was inspired by an area of the Enchanted Forest.
The attraction was a popular spot with Figueroa and her two boys when they were little.
When the owner added little yellow rowboats to the popular tourist draw, Figueroa, family and longtime friends tried them out – something that scared then-three-year-old Austin.
The day brightened considerably when a calmed-down Austin was able to get back in the boat.
“It was one of those fabulous family and friends times, when new experiences are scary,” says Figueroa. “But it was a stunningly beautiful day.”
Austin is now 19 and firstborn Eric, 22. And for more than 16 years, memories of that day have been percolating in Figueroa’s brain.
“It’s part of my way of painting through events of my life,” she says. “I hold onto the events in my head and they become more fantastic, or surreal or exotic than perhaps the present, so part of my process is how images live and thrive in my brain,”
Figueroa says photos and sketches aid her in eventually coming up with an image for her “idolized scenarios.”
“It lives in my brain for a long time, then I think about it and compose it, and it’s through that it comes down onto the canvas, differently than anyone else would do it.”
Figueroa, who teaches at her studio downstairs at the Art Centre on Hudson Avenue, calls this “innovating her experiences,” making them into something only she can see.
“I have wanted to paint it (Lilies of the Upper Eagle” forever,” she says, noting the other couple on that day-long adventure so long ago, has a shared and precious history that includes attending marriages and having their first children around the same time.
The other important aspect of her winning painting is the setting.
“It’s not just part of the Eagle River that flows into Sicamous where I live, it’s about my life with my husband, my children, my friends,” she says. “It’s like a diary, but it’s in full living colour and with the love I feel for my people, my rivers, my province and my home.”
And Figueroa wants her viewers to feel her intense, deep devotion and faithfulness to the land.
“That’s what painting and art are to me – a deep connection to the natural environment. Sockeye salmon come back there (Eagle River) to spawn and I love the life the river has led, and if you think about it the last spike is right there and the Eagle River runs right behind.”
Like an ever-flowing history book, Figueroa says the rivers have been witness to stories born long before humans, through the beginning of development when men with big axes appeared on the scene, to present day activities on and near the river.
“The Shuswap Watershed carries a lot of knowledge and I am passionate about the water and its journey,” she says. “Water is miraculous; it’s beautiful that it comes to rest in the valley. The water is peaceful – the fish can return, lilies can grow and then it makes it’s way to the Pacific.”
Figueroa calls the cycle astonishing and says she feels honoured to be able to draw and paint the surroundings in which she feels so blessed to live.
Now 54, Figueroa began painting when she was four or five years old.
She graduated from classical animation from Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., followed by a year of commercial art at George Brown College in Toronto and other courses at Ontario College of Art.
Figueroa offers multi-media courses in many styles. She is available at 250-803-3036.