West End artist Suzann Kingston invites you to enjoy her open-air gallery Saturdays and Sundays at English Bay. (Garry Checora Photo)

Artist Suzann Kingston Invites You Look And Touch

(click images to enlarge)

Have you ever struggled against the urge to reach out and touch a beautiful piece of artwork, wondering what the paint textures and brush strokes would feel like, knowing that if you did you’d probably hear a word or two from the gallery security guard?

Well, West End artist Suzann Kingston names her annual outdoor exhibition, just past the Sylvia Hotel on your way into Stanley Park, “Touch The Art Today”. And she means it!

“Chorus Line” (20” x 24”)

“My art is meant to be touched” says Suzann. “I am extravagant with paint, so that I can create textures that are intriguing and welcoming. The desire to touch is instinctive when people view my art in person, so I encourage them to do just that. By enabling them to engage with my art work on a more personal level, their experience is intensified and suddenly 'art' becomes something more. Touch my art and feel something, anything... but have an art experience like no other and call it your own.

“By making my art touchable, I reject the conventions that force us to keep our hands in our pockets and our enthusiasm politely in check even while our fingers and minds and hearts are itching to touch, to get involved, to engage.”

“Lake Bella Rosa” (20” x 28”)

Every summer, Suzann sets up an open-air, art gallery beside the breathtaking beauty of English Bay. She is introducing locals and tourists alike to the beauty and necessity of art, but also getting them to engage with her art on a more personal level by touching it. As a result, her art is making its way into homes around the world.

Nature plays a major role in her artwork, as does the lure of the abstract. As she continues to create, Suzann’s textures evolve as she experiments with new and different ways to manipulate paint even as she is creating the overall work. Her colour palette grows as well as she works to bring unexpected combinations of colours together in a harmonious way that will intrigue the eye.

“Crossing Over” (24” x 36”)

“We live in a world crawling with judgement” Suzann notes. “The list of things we are not allowed to do grows every day. I want people to experience art in a different way. We have had the wonder beaten out of us on so many levels. I just want to bring a little of it back.

Suzann was born in Montreal and grew up on Cape Breton Island on the East Coast of Canada. The expanse and beauty of the Atlantic Ocean ( the visual backdrop to her teenage years) left an indelible impression. Introduced to art in junior high school, Suzann discovered Vincent Van Gogh, drawing and photography. High school led to art school and a visit to New York City where the treasures of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art were revealed and she got to see her favourite painting in person - Van Gogh's, 'The Starry Night'.

When Suzann looks at her art now and thinks back to those days, she can see where her desire to paint with bold colours, create rich textures and explore abstract themes was born. But at that time, another dream took precedence.

Having been bitten by the performing bug in high school, Suzann entered Dalhousie University's music program and began her classical training in opera. A performance career that spanned several decades saw her on stages cross the country singing everything from opera to jazz. This journey led her to Vancouver, British Columbia where a personal crisis ended her performing career. She began writing to deal with the loss of a dream and produced several books which she self-published.

And then, one day, while visiting an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, she saw several of Van Gogh's paintings - mere inches away. The desire to return to the creating of visual art was reawakened. On impulse, that very same day, she decided that she wanted to explore creating with paint. Completely self-taught, she let her instincts guide her.

Suzann lives, paints and works in the West End, minutes away from the ocean and the stunning beauty of Stanley Park.

You’ll find Suzann and her exhibition just down the path from the Sylvia on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weather permitting. Learn more about this extraordinary artist and see her online gallery at her website here.