For Lauren Morris, becoming a painter has been a journey that has come full circle, complete with across the world travel and years of establishing herself.
Now residing in Vancouver, she has been able to pursue her passion as a full-time profession, not only as an artist, but as a teacher as well.
“I always wanted to be a fine artist, and but father said to me, ‘You’ll never make it as a fine artist.’” Morris says. “Not meant to be negative, but in those days, he didn’t think it was a way to make a living.”
But a living she has made. Originally educated in graphic design in South Africa, where she was born, she cut her teeth in the publishing industry.
Morris credits her work in graphic design particularly in helping her with commissions—being able to speak with her clients and disseminating what it is they are truly wanting.
“I like to work with people,” she says. “I’m a people person. I like to get to know them. And I like to make people happy. I like it when my art makes people happy.”
After a short relocation in Washington, D.C., Morris moved and eventually settled in Vancouver. But she quickly discovered there was much less work for a graphic designer with a work history in publishing.
She says Vancouver is a much smaller market for publishing, compared to Toronto.
So, she returned to her earlier desire to paint, the one she was told could never be a career.
“I paint my kitchen floor. And even though I had some fine art training, it was more in the graphics. Next, I put my paintings up in coffee shops, and that’s how I got started.”
As her paintings became noticed in the coffee shops of Vancouver, this exposure led to commissions.
Today, Morris works as a full-time artist, exhibiting in galleries, selling her commissions, and as an art teacher.
“I like to teach people. I like to help them to create something that they think they cannot do.”
Morris has taught for two years. She relishes the achievement of helping others overcome fear.
“It’s always fear that stands in someone’s way,” Morris says. “But if you just let it go and let your creativity come out, then it’s amazing what they produce. And they’re also amazed at what they produce.”
In her own work, Morris feels as though she has grown over her years as an artist. No longer worried with her own fear of making a mistake.
“I got to the stage where if I start a painting and if I’m, ‘Ugh, this is really not good,’ I now go, ‘I’m so happy it’s not that good,’ because in my eyes, whatever I do will be better. It’s a challenge for me and it’s growth. And I realize the more that I paint, the more I learn.”
Morris will be exhibiting in her second Art Vancouver, coming soon.
By Nathan Durec