Seeing Stories with Steph Whalen

My brother and his family are visiting from Dawson City, Yukon. I am in between studios, so I have set up a temporary painting station at one end of our 8 foot dining table. 


Six year old Lily: Aunt Stephie, why are you always painting?

Me: So I can see what the stories look like.

Lily: Oh. I do that too.

I paint so that I can see what the stories look like. If you spent a moment in my head, you would likely find yourself immersed in a beautiful mess of organized nonsense. A lifelong daydreamer with a childlike imagination, I have acquired an extensive collection of mental images that I refer to as “snapshots”, each one serving as an introduction to a story, song or joke that is yet to be written. My main objective with my art is to bring these “snapshots” to life through a unique and whimsical style that I am continually developing.

When I was six, I lived in a small mining community in the North West Territories. It was 1984 and perfectly acceptable to have no idea where your children were. We swam in the swamp with frog’s eggs in our hair and bloodsuckers on our legs and we built communities out of forts all through the surrounding forests. We went home when we were filthy and starving. 

Now we know where everyone is; even the people we don’t know. I have a difficult time recognizing our world now. I have trouble with technology, and the effort that it takes to keep up with the speed at which we are “advancing” It seldom feels like a peaceful or joyful place, as everyone rushes to the next place that they need to be, and I see that this applies to many of our overscheduled children as well. I worry that we will forget how to live in the present moment. I worry about the future generations.


Then, I remember that worrying doesn’t accomplish anything, so I make art.


I make art to challenge my reality and hopefully bring some lightness to this very serious world. There is no incorrect way to interpret the images that I create, and I encourage you to allow yourself a moment to engage with your own imagination while you view my playful paintings and illustrations. My show REVERIE runs until July 14th. I hope you enjoy. 

                                                                                                                   xo Steph Whalen