Deciding to work as an artist does not need to be a full-time passion. It does not need to be something you pick up at a specific stage of life. And it does not need to be your sole identity.
For many, art is an outlet, an opportunity to destress. It can be something that complements your life.
And for Lanni Weingarten, art is exactly that, something that gives her a sense of freedom within her busy life.
“I’ve always had a creative side,” Lanni says. “I’ve always wanted to explore it more. And, you know, as a kid in high school and university … I didn’t study art, but I always took art as my elective.”
After university, art was pushed aside for career, family and other life commitments. But that need for a creative outlet was always there.
Lanni says she “dropped the ball for a while.” She was always finding new projects and ways to stay creative, but not necessarily where her artistic passions truly lay.
“Not until I was probably close to 40 did I really go back to it, and I started taking a class,” she says. “And I felt, honestly, like I was reawakened. I was like, ‘I cannot believe I haven’t done anything like this in 15 years!’”
Since that first class a few years ago, Lanni has started working with a local mixed media artist and has flourished under her tutelage.
“I don’t know where it came from, but my style has really developed to be—I really love the mixed media. I love kind of taking things by surprise and mixing up materials. I also love mixed media because I feel like there’s a great layering process that happens and where each layer is like a bit of a story. You can almost imagine the layers of an onion, and with each layer, you peel it away and there’s more and there’s more and there’s more. So, there’s this depth to it. And I feel that way with my art.”
When you take in Lanni’s art, there is a whimsy and cheerfulness to it. It is meant to be uplifting and aspirational.
“When you walk by it, I want someone to look and feel happy,” Lanni says. “You just want to smile when you walk by. That’s what I’m hoping that it does. That’s, I guess, my goal.”
And while going back to classes and working with other artists may have been the impetus for her to rediscover her creative freedom, she is also quick to credit the community and art lovers in general.
“The community has been so nice, in two parts: the classes I’ve taken, the people have been amazing, the teachers have been amazing. But also coming into Art Downtown in the last two summers and participating in that has been so nice as well.”
Art Downtown, the annual exhibition that runs during the summer in Vancouver and put on by VVAF, is a venue for artists to display and sell their work, mingle with other artists and art lovers and to just enjoy the sense of community that is created when people of a common interest come together.
She says she enjoys when people come up to her to talk about her art or simply when they stop by a painting and allow themselves to be surprised by where their eye goes.
“I want my art to let people have that freedom, freedom in your body, freedom of thought, just letting your mind go. Just letting go. I guess that’s the thing. Just let go. Let your eye wander around my painting.”
By Nathan Durec