Artistic adventure 

Local artists head to Panama for fresh inspiration and insight

While the beauty of Whistler is an endless source of inspiration for many creative types, one well-known local artist is heading abroad to produce new artwork.

Daniel Poisson, perhaps known best within the community for his “Faces” series of paintings, is heading out with his girlfriend and fellow artist, Corinna Haight, to Panama on a contract that will allow them to surf and create.

They’ve been hired by a group of young American business people who are setting up a network of hostels and bars. The business owners admire the artistic styles of Haight and Poisson, and are paying their way to Panama, covering flights, accommodations and supplies in exchange for a collection of artwork.

“They have a very high appreciation of art and they want to start building collections of art that they like,” Poisson explained.

Haight already completed a similar contract with the business owners back in February, producing about 30 pieces within a five-week period.

On Monday morning, Poisson was busy packing and tying up some loose ends before heading down to Vancouver.

Poisson has called Whistler home for almost six years.

Growing up, Poisson moved around the province frequently. His family encouraged him to pursue his interest in the arts, but after about half a semester in a fine arts program, Poisson knew that the formal education route wasn’t going to work for him.

“They were doing colour theory and composition — very basic stuff that you need to know, but at that point, I’d already been reading a lot of books on my own and studying a lot of work, and I just didn’t find it was helping me at the time.”

That’s not to say he doesn’t want to push his artistic limitations — he’s always looking for new challenges, switching styles and mediums. Poisson is a multi-medium artist, and works with paint, a variety of print materials, and resin coating.

In fact, just about a month ago, during a trip to Revelstoke, Poisson found he was inspired to try his hand at fine ink illustrations on textured watercolour paper.

“I went out there to relax and get away for a while and enjoy my time, and while I was out there, I just started doing these new pieces when I was nice and comfortable at his place. It was more of a shift in my mentality, it calmed me down,” he said.

These intricate peace vortexes, as Poisson calls them, start at one central point and spread out symmetrically. Done with a fineliner pen, each piece is about 12 inches across, and takes about six to eight hours to complete.

“My intention right now is to spend a little bit more time and become more detail oriented and work on the skill of drawing and illustration, and really produce some… higher quality, cleaner pieces,” Poisson explained.

Ultimately, Poisson decided to get his education through travel, instead.

“It was fun — I saw some pretty amazing places. I crawled through caves with human remains and bats and centipedes six inches long. You can’t really do that around here,” he said with a laugh.

He also worked for a cruise line for years, which allowed him to travel while working, but he grew tired of chasing the almighty dollar. He decided to visit his brother in Whistler, and ended up settling in for a while.

Though he calls Whistler home right now, this artistic soul still has the travel bug, and jumped at the chance for an all-expenses paid trip to Panama.

While he doesn’t really know what the pieces he creates for the new collection will be like, he has a few ideas — cityscapes incorporating abstract and graffiti elements, a broadleaf series, and a spinoff series from his “Faces” series, featuring Panamian cultural icons and leaders.

This trip won’t be all business — the artists are definitely going to be balancing work with play.

“You paint until you get tired of painting and you can’t stare at a canvas anymore, and then you go surf, and when you get burnt out from the surfing… then you back to the painting.”

Who said artists lead tough lives?

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