Photo Credit: Britney Berrner
Hello friends! I'm so happy to share today's interview with nature painter April Lacheur. April's whimsical art is as poignant as it is lovely! Enjoy:
Where in the world are you located? What is it like being an artist there?
I Live in Maple Ridge BC, one of the ‘burbs’ outside of Vancouver Canada. There is a lot of inspiration for my work to be found here; lots of beautiful west coast nature and great forest for hiking with lots of wonderful trees. I am lucky enough to have a studio in my backyard.
I think for a lot of artists, there's a tension between feeling called to be an artist and the pull to have a "sensible" career. Have you always known that you're an artist? How has your art career evolved?
I have wanted to be an ‘artist when I grow up’ ever since I was a little girl. After high school though I ended up going to University for Nursing as it was seen of as more of a ‘real job’ in my family. While I was working full time as a Registered Nurse I was painting as a hobby. I was encouraged to hang some of my work in a local restaurant and had my work for sale. I was thrilled that my paintings actually sold and that gave me the confidence to pursue selling more of my work. That was about 11 years ago. Since then I have been ‘hustling’ to sell my work at artisan markets, galleries and online. I also do a lot of commissioned work and have started doing some public art projects. I have a line of art cards and prints that are sold at 70 retail locations across Canada. For the past 4 years I have been working just 1 day a week as an RN and otherwise, run a successful art business. I like the balance that my Nursing job provides and I like that it gets me out of the studio and into the other side of my brain once a week.
Can you talk a bit about your process? How has your work evolved over time? What are you working on right now? What's new or different about it?
I work in acrylic paints on canvas or wood. I have always used bold colors and clean line work and I often get the comment that my work is unique and distinctly my own which I am grateful for. I think finding an identity and style as an artist can be hard. I have always painted nature-inspired work and my biggest focus in on trees with exposed roots. In the past few years, I have been changing my style a bit to incorporate loose abstract backgrounds overlayed with my stylized line work and trees. I have been enjoying the freedom the abstract backgrounds allow me since most of my work is very structured otherwise. The theme of my work is the similarities between nature and humans and how we too have roots that need to be exposed, shared and celebrated.
Are there certain themes that show up in your work over and over again?
Definitely the exposed tree roots. I am kind of known for that now. Also different elements of west coast nature like mountains and waves. I am also known for my flowing crisp linework that I create using ink and a brush.
What is your studio practice like? Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get into the creative zone? Do you ever get creative blocks? How do you get unstuck?
I have become more structured with my studio time in the past few years which has been really helpful for my production of work. As a small business owner, there are so many different roles and hats I wear that sometimes I find it hard to get into the studio to paint. Having scheduled studio time allows me to feel less stressed out about deadlines. Because I have scheduled studio time however it can be challenging to ‘get in the zone’. Instead of just painting when I feel like it I have to paint which can be challenging sometimes. I really enjoy listening to podcasts which I only do when I paint so that will sometimes keep me motivated to get in the studio. I also like to make my studio cozy by making sure its warm and lighting an essential oil candle. If I am feeling stuck I find just playing around with abstract backgrounds gets me going.
I really love your Trees series. Can you talk a bit about what that series means to you?
I started painting trees when I was living in New Zealand on a working holiday. I had started to really take note of their shape and form. I began learning more about trees and how they live together in communities much like humans. When I walk through the forest I can imagine all of the roots systems hidden below the dirt tangled with one another. The roots are the trees stories and we too as humans have roots. I started to become intrigued by the idea that humans are not that much different from trees. In my work I always have exposed tree roots as a reminder to the viewer to expose their own roots, to celebrate and share their stories. Through this was can have more understanding of one another and thus more peace in the world.
Are you a full-time artist or do you also have a day job/side hustle? If you do have a day job, does it tie in with your art practice?
I joke that Nursing is now my hobby and Art is the real job! My art business is largely what sustains me and I keep up with the Nursing as I do not want to give up my license. Like I said I like the balance that continuing to work as a Nurse provides. I work as a Diabetes Educator in a family practice office which is pretty different them making art but I do find I have to be creative in finding ways to teach and motivate people. My Nursing Practice has taught me to be structured, organized and accountable which has certainly helped in my art business practice.
Let's talk about work/life balance. How do you balance family life, studio time, business and time for yourself?
I keep a pretty strict schedule, I am a person who functions much better with a structure I have learned. I start each day with a 6 am CrossFit workout. That gets my mind clear and energy up, plus I love being a part of a community at the gym, otherwise I am working alone from home all day so it gets me out of my ‘bubble’ on a daily basis. I schedule my week like this; Monday - Studio, Tuesday - Marketing and order shipping, Wed- Nursing, Thurs - Admin, applications and ordering, Friday -Studio. I try very hard to take weekends off so I can spend time with my husband and my dog Maple (named after a tree of course) and work on our house (we are always renovating!). Some weekends I am at shows etc. I have a day planner where I write to-do lists and schedule tasks and cross things off. This has really helped me stay organized and makes me feel like I am accomplishing things.
Photo Credit: Britney Berrner
What does being an artist mean to you?
It means I get to share my gift. It means I can use my creativity to bring others joy. It means I have to work really hard and be vulnerable. It means I have the best job in the world.
If you could give your 20-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
To stop wishing for things you can’t have and to be grateful for the things that you do.
Do you have any questions or comments for April? Add them to the comments below!