The fall of 1999 was a turning point in Cam Wilson’s life. That’s when the Edmonton-based artist, then in his mid-thirties, first travelled to Southeast Asia. That introduction lasted six months and it immediately started to satisfy both his fascination with it personally and to serve his artistic purposes.
He’s since made the region his second home but also, he’s made it the constant source of subject matter for his watercolour paintings.
“I’ve been going there the last 14 years now,” he said, referring to Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Laos. There’s really no denying the importance that he has placed on the region, especially as he is now married to a Thai woman.
He even calls this exhibit My Asia.
Wilson started off his artistic path by graduating from the visual communications program, focusing on illustration for commercial arts, at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Afterward, he worked at an advertising agency where eye-catching details and imagery are the name of the game.
Now he works as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, which he finds affords him more time to build up his fine art portfolio.
“I don’t really restrict the paintings,” he said, remarking on the people, places, fauna and flora of his second homeland in Asia and of his works. “Some artists will just do landscapes or seascapes. “Travelling around, there’s all kinds of things that grab my attention.”
He finds that ad work doesn’t compare to how creatively fulfilling his personal art is.
“Not at all!” he admitted, frankly, laughing.
When I first got into the business, there was still a lot of hands-on skills [needed]. As time has gone by, its more and more automated with applications and computers. For quite a while I was doing digital illustration on a digital drawing tablet. Over time, Id gotten sick of it. The competition has gotten crazy. The world is just flooded with images now. Ive slowly been working my way to traditional art.
There’s no place like Southeast Asia to inspire one’s art, he added. He spends three to four months there every year. The works that come out of these travels are filled with wonderful details and rich colours. They might not inspire the same wanderlust that fills Wilson with a sense of urgency to return year after year to the area but it certainly delights the eye of the beholder. Perhaps the artist could develop a pictorial brochure to promote his adoptive homeland.
I try to keep [the paintings]fairly energized. Accuracy or realism really isnt the first priority for me. I like to be representational. I dont like to change the scene around but, at the same time, its the life of the painting. Its the most important thing.
That fine art portfolio of his is now extensive and has toured around via a number of exhibits over the years. This marks his first show in St. Albert.
Watercolour Paintings by Cam Wilson
On display until Friday, Nov. 28
Opening reception on Saturday, Nov. 1 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Artist will be in attendance
25 Sir Winston Churchill Avenue, in the Hemingway Centre
Call 780-460-5990 or visit www.vasa.ca for more information.