Local artist Paula Gush finds inspiration in Nicola Valley

·4 min read

Paula Gush is a born and raised Merrittonian, a self-admitted “old fashioned family gal” who loves living and creating art in the Nicola Valley.

Gush spent many years as a stay-at-home mom. Locals may recall bumping into her at Brambles, where she was a soup cook for about five years, something she enjoyed until the arrival of COVID-19, at which time she decided to shift her focus back to family.

“When the pandemic hit, I retired my soup ladle and jumped at the chance to offer my granddaughter childcare,” Gush explained.

During this time, Gush has also had the opportunity to expand on her artistic talents, which she had first discovered several years prior.

“I stumbled onto my art path around a decade ago when I painted a portrait of my sister for her birthday,” said Gush.

“I continued to paint sporadically for about five years, until a friend of mine suggested we take a stained-glass class at High Country Stained Glass in Kamloops. I was hooked! I gradually purchased all the supplies needed, and now have a dedicated studio space in my home.”

However, getting hooked on stained-glass didn’t limit Gush’s experimentation, with the artist noting that she has tried her hand at several different mediums and styles throughout the years.

“I went through an art exploration phase… I tried mosaics, acrylic painting, oils, and water colours,” said Gush.

“It was glass that stuck. I believe it’s because there’s a pattern involved, a structured plan that I find comforting. Stained glass is an extremely time-consuming endeavour. There are multiple steps in any project. Throughout the process, I tend to go into a meditative state. For me, it’s soothing with a proud jolt of joy when a project is complete.”

The process begins with coming up with an idea for a piece, and then creating or finding a pattern. That pattern must then be traced onto the glass, which will then be cut out into the appropriate pieces. The rough edges of the glass are then ground smooth and the pieces are washed. Copper foil is added to the edges before the piece is pinned into place and soldered. The flux must then be washed off and the entire piece polished.

It is only after this is completed that Gush can offer her pieces for sale, something she has only recently begun to do.

“My first and only market experience was at Akasa Yoga Studio… it made me realize I had marketable items,” Gush explained.

“The pandemic has shut down many market venues, therefore, I have made an effort to be visible on social media.”

Gush is active on both Facebook and Instagram, where you can view her work or contact her if you are interested in any of her pieces.

Although the pandemic has had an impact on sales venues and local artisans, Gush has seen the interest in her work increase, and people are enthusiastic about adding her creations to their collections. Gush has become so busy with her art that she’s even had to scale back on her grandma duties, though she is still able to spend one day a week with her granddaughter.

When she’s not spending her time being a wonderful grandma or creating art, Gush occupies her time in several ways.

“During the winter months, I tend to nest in my home, content in cooking delicious meals, spending time with my family and taking in vitamin D through walks,” said Gush.

“Summer, I come out of my cocoon and take advantage of our sunny days. We are fortunate to have a wide variety of lakes in the area. Paddle boarding has become a passion. And camper van road trips are a must!”

As an artist, it is possible to find inspiration almost anywhere and in anything.

“What do I enjoy creating the most?” Gush muses.

“Although I haven’t made many, I have a fascination with abstract faces. And birds. Birds are cool. I have created a few panels that were inspired by the Nicola Valley ranch lands. I pick wildflowers surrounding the valley and use them in my artwork. The Nicola Valley is inspirational.”

Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald