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Featured Artist of the Week: Danielle Folkerts

Name: Danielle Folkerts

Age: 25

Medium: Mixed media artist (painting/fibre art) and instructor

Danielle Folkerts is originally from Alberta, but when her partner (who's in the military) got posted here, they moved to Kingston, where she soon fell in love with the arts community and landed a job managing/curating The Kingston Collective and its workshops. Folkerts says some of her earliest memories are of her drawing, colouring or sketching as a kid, and after a visit to Europe as a teenager she couldn't imagine not being an artist. She got a visual arts diploma from Red Deer College as well as a bachelor of fine arts from the Alberta College of Art and Design. Apart from work and making art, she loves the water and enjoys going kayaking and scuba diving.

How did you originally get into your craft?

I never even really painted as a kid. I drew a lot, but then when I went into school I just assumed I was doing painting. I don’t know why. I was like, that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to paint. Even though I was more of a drawer. But I feel like even though I majored in painting, it was kind of a loose term. I still drew, I still painted, I still did installations. And then I started getting into fibre art in my third year of school because ACAD had a really good fibre program.

How long have you been doing it?

Since 2009 would be when I really was like: this is what I’m going to do.

And that’s when I started to do markets – even though I didn’t know what I was doing – and then that’s when I also started to teach at the school and run workshops.

What artists inspire you?

In terms of historical, Monet. I love Monet so much. His colours are – I’ve loved them forever. His work is so textural and vibrant and it has a really nice atmosphere. And then (for) fibre artists, her name is Judit Just... and I believe she's from Portugal and she’s a fibre artist and she just makes really big, amazing colourful pieces. And it’s kind of inspired a new series I’m working on roughly, but I just love the scale and I love the colours and the textures. And they’re just really time intensive, too. So I appreciate artists who really put time into their work. And then one of my favourite artists that’s current for painting – she uses pastels, but she kind of applies it like paint… Zaria Forman and she does these huge, huge scale pieces of ice bergs… her work is all about climate change. And it’s just, it's beautiful, it's time intensive, it’s almost like photo-realism. But the colours are wonderful and I like that her work is kind of starting a conversation about things as well. So I think the activist part of being an artist is pretty powerful and that’s, I think, the direction that I’m going to try to start taking with my newer work that I’ve been working on.

What is your creative process?

I kind of go between painting and fibre art. And I find that I take a lot of pictures, so it kind of usually starts with pictures and sketches and kind of starting to think about what I want to do. But then when I actually get into making, I usually completely sideline from what I thought was going to happen and I really let the in-moment process lead where I’m going. So typically, I’ll go in with a vision and then as I get going it does a 180 and I’m like, alright this is where it's going. So, it’s pretty intuitive and I just kind of go with it.

Describe what your workspace looks like.

I do have a studio and I actually was joking the other day because I’ve got a nice little set up with a desk and I’ve got kind of my one wall of inspiration – so it’s all original artwork that I’ve collected from some of my favourite artists and makers and my own work, too, that kind of is almost like a vision board of the aesthetic I’m going for. But then on the other side of the studio is like mounds of totes: like containers for art supplies and class supplies and workshop stuff. So it’s a little bit chaotic. And so I’ll either – even though I have a desk – I prefer to work on the floor. So I’m usually just like, sitting in the centre of the floor working on things or I just haul everything and work in the living room.

What part of your style makes you stand out as an artist?

I have a pretty cohesive colour palette I tend to go by. Like if you look at a lot of my work: like my watercolours and my paintings, they kind of have that really colourful, almost pastel – I always say dreamy – quality. But I do like to do neutral stuff as well. But I find I try to keep things kind of consistent. And over the years, like when I was in school, I did a lot of figures and a lot of people and now I’ve completely went away from that. And I just enjoy adding a little more abstraction in my work.

Do you have a favourite piece you’ve made?

I have a piece that I have made recently, but I haven't even taken pictures or shown anyone yet... It’s not done yet, but it’s a big fibre piece and I’m really excited about it. It took like a month and a half probably. I don’t even know how many hours – 70 hours to make? Like, it was ridiculous.

What is the best part about doing what you do?

I usually feel like I don’t have a choice because that’s all I think about. No matter where I am, if I’m traveling, or at work or doing something, I’m always thinking about how to translate my experiences in art. Like, it’s just never not in my mind. So, I think I’m just happy that I get to have an outlet to process all of my experiences and then share that with other people as well. And then also just share the things I care about, so whether it’s a certain topic or just something I care about. And then it’s interesting to see, especially when it comes to artwork, when people resonate with it. But then also if it’s workshops – the same thing, where you can tell it’s affecting people, and that they're enjoying it and that maybe they’re discovering something themselves or that they’re getting inspired. And I think that’s usually the best part: seeing how people react and what they take away from it.

What is the most challenging?

Probably just balancing everything. So, finding the time to do the marketing and the social media and then just making art. And then, even now because I’m doing art and I’m doing workshops… it definitely has taken away time for myself to make new work. So, right now I’m kind of battling between ‘where do I put all of my energy?’ and ‘what’s most important to me at this moment?’ and then, even though I’m excited to be doing workshops, I still will feel guilty that I’m not making as much art, but you just kind of have to be easy on yourself and not think too hard on it.

What is something people don’t realize about what you do?

When I have time, I do commission work. I do like to take on commissions. I find because I’ve been so busy I definitely have been saying no more recently just because I can’t do everything all the time. But I also have a blog on my website which I’m excited about. That’s kind of new. And so I’m trying to add more stuff on there... because a lot of people, if they aren’t in Kingston, still want to be involved in workshops. So right now I’m trying to work on whether that’s making some videos, or e-courses – just stuff that I can maybe provide for people that are back home in Alberta that used to be my students.

What do you want people to take away from your work?

If I think about my maps or things that remind people of travel, my favourite thing is when people look at it and then start telling me their stories. Like, when it just kind of clicks in their mind, where it starts bringing out their own experiences and its not about me anymore. Because I put my experiences and my feelings into there, but it’s when people look at it and it just resonates with them. And that’s why I like doing a lot of the markets and art shows and being their presently because people will look at a lot of the work and just start talking and telling me how they feel about it.

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