Angie Rees is an artist currently living and working in Calgary, Alberta. Although she has painted her whole life, she sought formal training from Grant MacEwan College and the University of Alberta where she graduated with a BFA in 1990. Angie’s work is widely collected and can be seen in many galleries across western Canada. Angie has been donating her art to UNICEF Canada’s Water For Life Gala for many years, but 2017 is the first year that we’re happy to welcome Angie as an official UNICEF Cards artist.
Tell us about your artwork, style and inspiration.
The artwork I enjoy doing the most is whimsical, colourful and humorous. I paint animals predominately but sometimes fantastical landscapes or wonky little buildings like in my series, Itty Bitty Cities. I think my strongest source of inspiration is humour and wordplay. I love to laugh and to make others laugh. It’s so satisfying to me when people walk through the gallery looking at my work and laughing out loud as they read the titles.
I hope people feel joyful when they see my UNICEF card; it’s called “A Closely Knit Family” and it depicts a family of penguins clad in winter sweaters. It’s bright and colourful and whimsical!
What is your fondest childhood memory?
My first awareness of UNICEF came from carrying little coin boxes around trick or treating. Every penny counted towards change. My neighbours were very generous and I always arrived home with a full box of coins—sometimes a little heavier than my candy haul.
What kinds of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
My creative process varies: sometimes it starts with a funny title or pun I’ve thought of; other times it’s an image that captures my fancy. Either way, while painting I’m always tossing around title ideas. It’s a eureka moment when the right title and image come together (I usually know that I’ve found it if it gives me a little chuckle). The perfect title can say just that little bit more that you can’t with your brush - it’s like the cherry on top of a sundae. My sketchbooks are an integral part of my process. A perfect afternoon might involve a latte in one of my favourite cafes with a pencil, sketchbook and a head full of ideas.
What are you most proud of?
I believe strongly in what UNICEF does around the world and I was so honoured to be asked to contribute a card image. I have donated paintings for the past few years to UNICEF’s Water for Life Gala, and it’s wonderful to know that something I’ve created can translate into a generous donation. I had a lovely thank you note come to me this year that said the money my painting raised equated to four pumps that will provide clean water to 1,200 people for 10 years! I sincerely hope my cards are well received by people and can translate into much needed funds for all of the good work that UNICEF does around the world. It feels good to give something back; I think that we all have a responsibility as human beings to care for one and other.
What does UNICEF mean to you?
UNICEF’s emphasis on children not only surviving but thriving really speaks to me. I am the mother of a 16-year-old son; it’s my number one job to see that he is looked after emotionally, physically and spiritually. It’s an awesome responsibility. UNICEF does this work on a global level under really challenging circumstances; I have so much respect for the work they do all over the world.
Any words of wisdom to share?
My message to Canadians this holiday season would be to count your blessings. We are so fortunate to live in such a peaceful and beautiful nation. Get outside and enjoy all that Canada has to offer.