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New art exhibit showcases the things Squamish loves: mountains and dogs

Angela Muellers' paintings are on display at The Artisan gallery downtown.

The images draw the viewer in the way their subjects draw folks to Squamish.

Angela Muellers' paintings of local landscapes and dogs are on display at The Artisan Gallery in downtown Squamish until Oct. 5.  

The landscape paintings were all created from photographs, primarily taken by Muellers on her trips outdoors in the Sea to Sky.

"I climb, I hike, I backcountry ski," she said. "My friends are quite frustrated because I am always taking pictures because when you are out there, it is 'Look at that cloud!' or 'Look at that lighting effect!' It is really hard to focus on just skiing or climbing because I am always looking at the beautiful landscapes and form and lighting."

The works in this show were produced over the last year or so.

"I love all the seasons to paint. This show, I have a fair amount of winter scenes, just kind of the way it worked out."

The portraits of dogs in the show came about by chance, Muellers said.

Last winter, she wanted to do something for friends whose dog was hit by a car.

She felt bad for them and decided to paint them a portrait of their dog as a memento.

Local photographer Roberta Holden allowed Muellers to use a photo she had taken of the dog to work from for the painting.

She enjoyed creating the painting, and the dog's owners were moved by it, so she decided to see if there was an appetite for pet portraits.

"When I was young, I used to draw and paint animals a lot — horses, and I enjoyed it so much," she said. "I asked Roberta if I could purchase some of her photographs to use as reference... the dogs in this show are from looking at her photographs."

She has also received a few commissions for dog portraits.

The artistic process

Muellers summed up the process of creating her paintings as the French academic method.

"It is a very multi-layered approach," she said. "You don't put the details in until the later stages. You have to use a lot of discipline to create the structure in the beginning, and that means having a patchy paint look, even if you want a very smooth finish. You have to start that way."

The beautiful details come later, and it takes many layers of paint for each piece, and it takes a lot of time as the paint has to dry in between the layers.

"I have a landscape painting that is 15" by 30" in the show and that painting took about six weeks to complete," she said. "They take quite a bit of time, but if you don't have the history of the paint layers underneath, and you don't build up the structure, it is just going to kind of fall apart. The details don't make the painting. it is the structure."  

COVID restrictions

COVID didn't change Muellers' painting process, but she stopped teaching art classes for a time over concerns for students' safety.

She focussed on her own painting and continuing to learn her craft, a life-long process, she said, that was enhanced by the availability of online workshops during the pandemic.

"You are always trying to learn more and you are always deepening your vision and your understanding of your field and that is always exciting. The more you give to it, the more it gives you back," she said.

Just before the interview with The Chief, Muellers took a master copies Zoom workshop from Florence, Italy, with renowned artist Michael John Angel.

Muellers’ show at The Artisan Gallery is on now at 1336 Main Street. Find more of her work on her website.

Her work is also available in the Britannia Mine Museum gift shop, and she will be showcasing her work at their annual Copper and Fire event Sept.18.

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