I am Patricia Gail Clarkin. I was born in 1962 in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada to my father Allan and my mother Lois who were born in Charlottetown, PEI.
I'm the youngest of four children. Allan, who had been in the army, passed away when I was two. Lois, a nurse, began working full-time as a health nurse for Simcoe County, so we all moved from Creemore to Collingwood where I began kindergarten at Cameron Street School. From there I went to Senior Public, and at that time my mom hooked up with Syd. Before I started grade nine we moved to the small village of Thornton, Ontario, north of Barrie, and I began high school at Central Collegiate in Barrie.
As a young person I was always making things. I sewed and was really enamoured with fabric and design. I spent my summers as a teenager working as a camp counsellor at Camp Simpresca located outside of Midland Ontario on Georgian Bay. I loved being with nature and being with children.
I went to Georgian College in Barrie where I studied Fashion Merchandising and moved to Toronto for a work term at it’s completion with four of my schoolmates and started work as a manager trainee in the menswear department at Simpsons at Queen and Bay. I spent the following years in retail at Legs Beautiful, 290 ION which was a Canadian Designers women’s boutique on Queen West and at BB Bargoons.
During these years I continued to study. At the Ontario College of Art I took textile design and at Ryerson I took colour theory.
I moved to Portland Oregon to study Apparel Design at Bassist full time in 1996.
Having been diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy at age 30 I found I was becoming physically unable to do this work so I got my first computer, a blue iMac, moved back to Canada to Prince Edward Island and began my journey as a visual artist in 1999.
The last 20 years began with me doing digital art with Photoshop and Illustrator, then delving into making videos with video editing on Avid and Final Cut Pro. I worked closely with my late husband Michael over this period. He often shot the video and photos.
I also curated art exhibits during this time and participated in group art exhibits. I was a disability and social advocate; A volunteer for Muscular Dystrophy Canada and Health Partners. And a board member of People Living With Disabilities and Committee member for People with Disabilities in Charlottetown.
When I got my first iPhone through an arts grant, I shot the video and made documentaries and short Vines.
Then I got an iPad which I used as my main tool of creative expression. I made Mandalas for a couple of years and then started to paint. My focus was nature, specifically a plant a week. I would really spend time with this plant connecting and attempting to capture its essence. After doing this for a couple of years, Michael suggested I paint with watercolours and he gave me a gift of paper and paints for my birthday. Previously I believed I couldn’t paint this way because I was afraid that with my physical disability I wouldn’t be able to do straight lines. I could always use the undo function on the computer and iPad if I made a ‘mistake’.
I was ready for a challenge and told myself I could do abstracts. I reminded myself that I knew what I was doing, knew colour theory and had spent my lifetime studying art. I toured the art galleries of Europe and New York, and wherever I travelled. I had studied art history.
I knew art and in my heart I’ve always been an artist so I began my journey with the watercolours in the abstract. I started first in a small notebook and then another and then single sheets of paper and by now I have done hundreds of watercolours. Some will be on exhibit at my upcoming show Loves Hidden SymMeTrees.
Feeling more confident, I wanted to try a different medium and to continue to challenge myself. My husband bought me a bunch of acrylic paints for a Christmas present and a friend gave me some canvases and I explored this new means of expression.
I continue working across all these mediums and at this point in my life I find myself living rurally surrounded by trees, solitary except for two cats and with caregivers coming in throughout the day to help with my basic needs. I spend my time meditating, volunteering for Treesisters, encouraging others, praying, working with reiki, joining in healing circles, reading, studying philosophy and art online, and making art. Art is my medicine.
Any money that I make from selling my artworks after covering my expenses goes towards growing a forest in the tropics with Treesisters.