Stephanie Pete says teaching has become interwoven with her own artwork

For Vankleek Hill painter and art teacher Stephanie Pete, being a maker is as much about developing young minds as it is about creating her own artwork.

“Designing my courses to me is a part of what I make,” says Pete, who has taught youth and adult art classes at the Creating Centre in Vankleek Hill for the past several years. “For me at this time as an artist, teaching, creating course content and creating my own artwork is so interwoven that I think one wouldn’t go without the other.”

The artist says her personal style has changed over time. Describing herself as a painter who works in oil and acrylic, Pete’s studies include areas such as woodworking, electronics and welding. While it makes her extremely versatile as an artist, she says being a multi-media artist in some ways stalled her development.

“I’m so interested in making and creating and trying new materials that I never really found my niche,” Pete explains. “When I went to university for art, I was very excited about all the different classes they offered and the different skills I could get, so I tried everything – welding, plastics, woodworking.”

Encouragement from the community

After graduating from university with a major in Drawing and Painting and a minor in Integrated Media, Pete worked in the design field and left her artwork behind for several years. It was a move from Toronto to Vankleek Hill seven years ago which reignited the artist in her and helped her discover a love for teaching.

“I feel like taking a break from studio work and getting into teaching and being encouraged by people in the community like Samme Putzel, it actually helps me to understand my own knowledge better,” Pete says. “Coming to Vankleek Hill and connecting with creative-minded people here – it reminded me of the knowledge that I have.”

Included in that knowledge is the versatility that in the past had at times hindered Pete’s work. As an art teacher, her wide-ranging experience has proven invaluable.

“At this point I’m getting these older young people who are about to go to university and study art and I feel like I’m able to encourage them in different areas, because I understand the different programs,” she says.

Pete is in the process of expanding and has recently acquired a new location for students in her Art and Dream Studio classes. Her new studio at 27 High Street in Vankleek Hill will open in February and offer art classes for children and adults. For more information visit Art and Dream Studio’s Facebook Page, or contact Pete directly by email at [email protected], or by phone or text at 613-854-5226.

Students show at Arbor Gallery

The students in Pete’s Art and Dream Studio classes have a major show ‘On Your Mark’ coming up at the Arbor Gallery through the month of February. The show of creative arts is being curated by Pete and will feature artwork from her young students, including portraiture, painting and illustration. ‘On Your Mark’ will give the enthusiastic young artists a first chance to exhibit their artwork in a formal gallery setting and will be their first show outside of the Creating Centre.

“My students are so excited – it’s their first professional style show,” says Pete, who clearly is excited about the show herself.

The artist herself is planning a show at Arbor Gallery sometime in late 2022. While no date has been set, Pete is creating an oil-on-canvas series on birds of Ontario. She is working with both amateur and professional wildlife photographers to bring their photos to life on canvas. The series will also promote the work of the photographers themselves.

“Whenever my paintings are used the photographer is also getting credit for their work,” Pete assures.

Her students have become a major inspiration for Pete’s focus on her own artwork.

“My students want to see my work and are a huge motivation for me to create my own work,” she says. “They have an enthusiasm for my work and that makes me enthusiastic about it.”

“Teaching is helping me keep in balance as an artist. Every class I teach, I’m teaching myself again.”

Pete is currently working with wildlife photographers to create an oil-on-canvas series on birds of Ontario. Photo: Stephanie Pete Facebook