There is always a hint of spring around the work of Pemberton painter Valerie Butters.
Known for large and lush florals and landscapes, Butters has been named "the Canadian artist to collect" and is the feature artist in the spring issue of Arabella Magazine, the Canadian consumer art, architecture and design magazine.
"When I got the PDF of the article I don't think I was able to stop crying. Five or 10 times," Butters says.
"It's a lonely world and even if I'm in my studio and I think I'm onto something, sticking to my personal expression, there's still that little thing in the back of my head that says I'm alone in the world. It's just so nice to be recognized at that level."
Living in the Pemberton Valley for the last four years is a big change from her previous life in Montreal.
"I found Montreal was suffocating me. There were so many artists, and many who had strong opinions on what art was and what art wasn't," Butters says.
"It got to the point where I felt like I had to unlearn everything I had learned in art school. It was confusing and frustrating because I found it difficult to follow my own path, in my own voice, when so many people were telling me what I should be doing or shouldn't be doing."
Now married with a two-year-old, she and her husband decided to try Whistler for a season before they married.
"I found it quite lonely being in Whistler and the second year we had an opportunity to live in Pemberton — my husband's parents run the Lillooet River Lodge. When we had the opportunity to live here I really fell in love with it," Butters says.
They bought a house they saw for sale during the 2010 Olympics, flew back to Montreal and packed up their homes and work spaces, got married and moved to Pemberton for a new life.
"I just wanted to do my own thing and that's exactly what I did. Four years later and it's almost like there has been a complete shift," Butters says.
"Now I'm ready to be part of the world again. I've been painting alone; I've had shows, mostly in Ottawa and Toronto. I've been keeping to myself and getting lost in my own head and now I'm really ready to connect with other artists again."
The editor of Arabella, Debra Usher, originally contacted Butters in order to do an interview for an upcoming coffee table book on floral paintings.
Artist contributors to the floral book are writing an essay to go along with their images, which Butters found an interesting challenge.
"Florals aren't just florals. Every artist who paints them has a history and a reason why they do that. It's more than what you'll see on the canvas, so I am pretty excited to see how that will turn out," Butters says.
To keep her approach to work fresh, Butters teaches workshops, travels (she spent last fall painting in Tuscany) and is also taking a workshop offered by landscape painter Brian Atyeo.
"It's an exciting time now," she says.
"It was like a rebirth for me conceptually. The economy has been working itself out again and I am open to anything coming my way. The timing is all great, in it's weird little way."
Butters is represented in Whistler by the Adele Campbell Gallery
The next time she will be seen at work in Whistler will be at Adele Campbell's Spring Fling, where she hopes to do a painting demonstration.
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