“Though that park I learned to paint from within.”
This is a love story. The story of a man whose love for a woman released a suppressed love of painting which in turn has allowed him to overcome his insecurities and express his inner most thoughts and feelings through liquid acrylic paint. As he told The Expat in an email “I think artists paint because, at some level, they find the inner world of the imagination more compelling—so much so it wants to come out.”
As a child, the German born Canadian painter, Peter Stuhlmann, although gifted with a talent for drawing, had it impressed upon him that being an artist wasn’t a real job. As he said “I was 8 at the time and vividly remember hearing ‘you can’t earn a living doing this, you know.’ That one did not become an artist unless one wanted to starve and I really am rather allergic to starving.”
This unsuitability of art as a profession was further impressed upon him by a visit to his local university. “I did walk by a university art class once. Peered in through the windows at all the easels set up, the instructor penguining back-and-forth behind the students. It wasn’t for me. I’d be lying if I said it was to serve some higher aesthetic or philosophical calling, I was scared I’d be crap.”
So Stuhlmann became a cook instead. Although he did admit “I always did care more for arranging things [food on the plate] than how it actually tasted.” It was whilst working in a restaurant in Ottawa that he met Diane. She was a country girl up in the smoke who hankered to escape the city and return to the hamlet she called home, Chase. A short time later she did and he followed.
The British Columbia wilderness that surrounds Chase spoke to Stuhlmann. “It is astonishingly lovely and it completely suits my personality. You can truly be a loner out here,” he says. But being an outsider in a small town finding work as a cook was an unrealistic expectation and Stuhlmann, along with his two dogs, spent his days in the Niskonlith Lake Provincial Park.
It spoke so loudly to him that Stuhlmann decided to try his hand at painting. “Don’t know what it was, the landscape, the freedom, the environment, but try I did,” he recalled. He took a couple of lessons from a local painter and proceeded on his way. Two years later at Diane’s insistence he entered the local art show. He sold all his paintings, won a swag of awards and was invited to join the Federation of Canadian Painters.
Stuhlmann now has permanent representation with the Hampton Gallery and the White Dog Whistler Studio Gallery.
With his daily walks in the park Stuhlmann has it memorized. And as he says, “I’m definitely a person of ‘place’ now, having moved so much during my childhood. I’m interested in the meditative qualities that arise from knowing a place that well.”