Growth of an artist

Honing one’s craft can require a lot of work and dedication, and for Nelson-born artist, Kristy Gordon, it’s meant a lot of traveling.

Kristy Gordon first had a show in Nelson’s ArtWalk when she was 16. She has now returned and will open her new show at Bibo on Thursday.

Honing one’s craft can require a lot of work and dedication, and for Nelson-born artist, Kristy Gordon, it’s meant a lot of traveling.

“I don’t even know what to say anymore when people ask me where I’m from,” she says.

Gordon is based in Toronto but has recently returned from studying with a master painter in Norway.

She’s also travelled to Sante Fe, New Mexico, and may soon be bound for New York.

Her journey as a painter began as a teenager living in Nelson. Her mom was very involved with arts and had a lot of art books around the house.

“I remember really liking Group of Seven and Colville,” said Gordon.

Growing up in Nelson, she said she was encouraged to pursue art and showed her work for the first time in one of the ArtWalks when she was 16.

At that time Gordon said she was painting a lot of portraits.

“I was painting my boyfriend at the time, and a lot of self-portraits. I was also inspired by things I saw in magazines,” she said.

Gordon said on some level she always knew she wanted to be a painter but didn’t realize it was possible to make a living off it.

“I was actually an animator in Ottawa for a while, and I started to paint on the side a bit. I started to get to know one of the owners of one of the animation studios there, who was like a really well known painter, and being able to see him make a living off of his paintings, sparked the idea that that’s possible so then I started to just leave the animation stuff and paint more,” she said.

In 2004, she began moving away from animation and began focusing more on painting.

“At first when I got back into painting later on I was doing more landscapes, but eventually I found my way back to doing portraits. Now I seem to be more in like with what I was doing as a teenager,” said Gordon.

“I took a class at the academy of realist art in Toronto and that was a bit more classical, and that’s when that started to come out a bit more. In one week my paintings really transformed and now they’re similar to that turning point.”

Since leaving animation to pursue painting full time, Gordon has had many exhibitions and has received many awards and honours including the merit award from Salon International in 2009 in San Antonio, Texas, the finalist from The Artist’s Magazine 25th Annual Art Competition in the Portrait/Figure category and the Award of Excellence in the Human Figure Show at Federation Gallery inVancouver.

“It’s always really nice to hear that people like your pieces,” she said.

One of the most surprising sales was to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen.

“Whenever anyone buys your paintings it’s really flattering,” said Gordon.

In 2007, she left for Sante Fe, New Mexico to study with master painter Yuqi Wang, where she learned techniques of classical painting in oil.

“It was very technical and totally mind blowing, I can’t even put it into words,” said Gordon.

Recently, she traveled to Norway to study with another master painter Odd Nerdrum.

“It actually wasn’t so focused on the technique, it was more his ideas surrounding painting and symbolism and his philosophical ideas around painting,” she said.

“It really impacted the messages in my work. It sort of helped me combine painting out of my head with realism, so the painting is something real with something that never really existed and that’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but was really challenging for me. It was neat to start trying stuff.”

Gordon has now returned to Nelson to share what she’s learned in a workshop. She will also be showing her art at Bibo, and the opening will be August 11 at 4:30 p.m..

For more information on the workshop contact Bev Gordon at 250-352-3936 or by email at

**Correction: Kristy Gordon’s workshop will not be held at Touchstones Museum; please contact Bev Gordon for information on the location of the workshop.

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