WEST COAST – Chris Doucette, a full-time teleworker with the federal government, was born and raised in Kippens, and he moved back to the community in 2014 after living in Prince Edward Island since 1998. While living in his hometown, and navigating through the ‘new normal’ the pandemic created, Doucette discovered a new passion that he has turned into a successful pursuit – painting.
“The first few months of COVID, when all the lockdowns and stuff were here, I was getting bored. I didn’t know what to do and so I started watching videos on YouTube of people painting. There’s a gentleman by the name of Bill Alexander who I watched and another fellow named Kevin Hill. I liked the technique that they used and so I took a leap of faith and I ordered all the supplies I needed online. About a week after that it all arrived, and I started painting."
Doucette said his first painting was completed in May 2020 and it wasn’t good, but he didn’t give up.
“I practiced for probably four months. I practiced the technique, and I did a lot of studying on how they loaded the brush, learned how to mix my colour on the palette for colours that I didn’t have, and I did all of that simultaneously. I wasn’t too concerned with the what the colouring was on the canvas because I knew that would come. I just wanted to get the techniques down and develop my imagination.”
Doucette said he doesn’t paint from a photo; he paints from what he sees in his head.
“Previously I did paint from pictures while I was learning, but now it’s completely by imagination. I don’t do any sketching on my canvas at all before I start. I have a time of day and the season, and a basic composition in my head and then I just go from there.”
Doucette said he was painting for four months before he sold his first painting.
“I looked at it and thought it was not near good enough for someone to want to hang on their wall, but this person really wanted it. So I sold it and they were really happy. I was horrified that they wanted to have this on their wall at the time, but it all went from there.”
Doucette said when he began painting it was never his intention to sell any, so he never had any advertising in place, but he started posting his completed paintings on his Facebook page, Chris’ Art, and it started taking off in a big way relatively quickly.
“This was my creative outlet. While I was growing up, I never had anything that I was really good at. I was one of those people who could do some things okay, but I never really had this one thing that let me stand out from everybody else, so when I found it, I was really excited. I knew my first few paintings were garbage, but I could see something in there and I knew if I practiced and put the time in, that this would be something that would let me stand apart from other people.”
Doucette, who considers his art to be abstract/nature inspired, said he currently only does landscapes, but he is actively practicing portrait painting as well. Once he finishes a painting, he posts it on his page and it usually sells in a couple of hours. He doesn’t do commission work, and instead paints what he feels, but can make adjustments for people on request.
“I’m at the point where I know I could do it, I just don’t know if I could do it justice, so my confidence is not there yet. So I’d rather just do what I can think of, what I post. I will get people who say, ‘Yeah, I really like that one, but could you maybe put a couple more trees here or there.’ I paint what I feel, put it on a canvas, put it on my art page, and usually I will get a response back, sometimes in 15 minutes, sometimes in an hour, and sometimes the next morning.”
Doucette estimates he has sold 120 pieces in the past two years, and surprisingly not a lot is sold locally.
“I would say 90 per cent of my work goes to Ontario and another 10 per cent goes to Alberta. I’ve sold six or seven pieces and shipped them over to England, and I’ve sold maybe five, six, or seven pieces down to the United States. My page has reach. That’s what’s allowing me to have the awesome customers that I do, because I have a pretty big following.”
If he sits down and works on a painting, with no interruptions, usually during the weekend, Doucette said he can get a painting complete within a day.
“If I got up on a Saturday morning at 7:30-8:00 and went down to my studio at 9:00, usually around 7:00 that evening I can come up with a finished painting.”
Doucette said he does a lot of giveaways as well as charity work, which he thinks is an important aspect of getting people interested in his art.
“When I do that, it spreads the word even more, and it seems like it returns it to me times four. To me, I’m not losing anything. I get to help people, and at the same time, my name is reaching other people. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Doucette keeps his paintings at an affordable price because he believes everyone should be able to afford art if they want to own a piece.
“I think that allows me to sell more of my artwork. I think I’m at the price point where people want something different that you can’t get in the store, and they don’t have to pay a fortune for it, then they’ll come looking or they’ll come inquiring. I want everyone to be able to afford it.”
Doucette said the experience he has had since starting this journey has been extremely humbling.
“I don’t think that ever goes away. When somebody messages you and says I really love your artwork, and they may not even have any intentions of buying it, but they take the time to say they really love your artwork, and then you get people who want to purchase a painting, it’s like a skin-pinching experience.”
Doucette said he is extremely thankful to all of the people who have supported him.
“To get this much attention in such a short period of time, the 5,000 plus followers, the 120 paintings I’ve sold, all the attention I get from people sending me messages, it’s such a good feeling. The public support, I’m so thankful. It’s been so overwhelming for me, but I want to thank them. It’s been such a positive confidence builder for myself. It’s unbelievable.”
Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News