Gentle Giant is one of Nicole Cardinal’s coloured pencil works that will be on display at the Kelowna Airport. Courtesy Nicole Cardinal

Restart breathes new life into artwork for South Okanagan woman

Artist returns to her passion

Nicole Cardinal has done what many people sometimes dream of, but never actually do.

The Summerland resident decided to restart her life. After meeting up with her partner, Ed, at a previous place of employment, the two not only started their own company but with Ed’s encouragement, she renewed her interest in creating art.

Suk’wtəmsqilxw West Kelowna Arts Council (SWAC) was so impressed with her work, they are going to be showcasing it in the departures lounge at the Kelowna airport.

“It’s amazing to get back into art again and then to have it be recognized is encouraging for me,” said Cardinal, who said she applied for the program “on a long shot,” not expecting to have her work chosen.

“I’ve been away from the arts community for a while,” said Cardinal, saying it was “a lifetime ago” she went through art school and was very passionate about it.

But life intervened, and a lot of things fell by the wayside, including her artwork.

“In the last couple of years I kind of left almost everything from my old life behind, found the love of my life, restarted everything and got back to some of the things that I’m passionate about, which includes my artwork,” said Cardinal. “He really lit the fire under me: ‘If you’re good and you’re passionate you need to follow what makes you feel good. You’re more talented than you think you are.’

“That’s been an amazing journey. The two of us rebuilding really a life from scratch and in lots of different ways.”

The SWAC program is open to all artists in the Okanagan. Cardinal said she is initially required to produce six original pieces, celebrating the Okanagan. They also need to be carry on sized, easily purchased and transported by travellers.

“What I’m focusing on now is coloured pencil,” said Cardinal. “It was just something I hadn’t really explored in earlier years but I’m really grabbing onto and loving doing right now.

“They’re very realistic, high detail kind of work, lots of colour layering and focusing a lot on light and shadow, and textures.”

Cardinal said she’s finding that with this medium, she’s been able to achieve a different level of layering and depth than with any other method.

Along with other life changes, Nicole and Ed started Lake City Deliveries, a delivery and moving company, about a year-and-a-half ago. The two met and connected on a personal level at their previous employer while working in two different departments. It wasn’t long before they started talking about how they would run a business, which led to action.

“We said life is too short to be complaining about things if we really feel strongly about how things should be run. Let’s stop talking and start doing,” said Nicole. “On a leap of faith we both handed in resignations on the same day.

“We just you know if you’re going to do it you have to do it 100 per cent. And we’re still going, we passed that magical one year mark.”

Nicole said she and Ed have both had rough times in the past, including bad marriages, but her new life is bringing her joy.

“I don’t make the money I used to but I’m happier,” said Nicole. “There’s a price to be paid for all things, but at the end of the day it’s wonderful to live life for yourself not for someone else.”

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