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Local artists add colour to Metro Vancouver transit hubs

New series kicked off with a 'live painter' at SkyTrain stations

"I heard people say they don’t know how anyone ever gets the courage to create art under pressure or scrutiny, but honestly, it’s probably the only thing I can do under pressure," says artist Madeleine Wynne.

The 30-year-old Metro-Vancouver animator and landscape painter has been participating in live painting events like Art Battle (a tournament of painting which she won) since she was in university and most recently people may have seen her at various transit hubs as part of Art Moves.

TransLink introduced the live performance series at the beginning of August, starting with Wynne, and will continue with other types of performances until the end of October. Waterfront Station, Lonsdale Quay Seabus Terminal, Surrey Central Station, Bridgeport Station, and Coquitlam Central Station are all welcoming a performer once a month as part of an initiative to bring vibrancy to the transit system.

Wynne says during her time painting in public she has received a lot of comments from people showing her photos of their own art, "or from people telling me they want to start."

"I also get a lot of 'how long have you been painting?' They’re never satisfied when I answer 'since 4 p.m.'"

She's also had people come and ask her if she's an Emily Carr student (she was eight years ago and graduated with a degree in animation). At live painting events, she creates landscapes which she says is a skill that is largely self-taught. 

Using art as a coping mechanism

"I’ve been using art and drawing as a coping mechanism for restlessness or anxiety since I was about three," shares Wynne. "Even before I started painting at events, I would paint or draw in public settings as a way to meet people, start conversations, or just experience the world." Her interest in landscapes began in childhood but she says that she didn't start painting them until her late teens. "It was because I kept hearing other people my age complain about how they didn’t know how to draw environments or backgrounds. I really didn’t want that problem, so I dove headfirst into practicing drawing backgrounds," she says which has helped her career as an animator.

While people may not be able to understand her urge to create art in public spaces, Wynne explains, "I have pretty severe ADHD, and the art gives me something to focus on or fidget with."  She continues, "When I was younger I often struggled with social anxiety, and while I’m a pretty extroverted person, I didn’t really know what to do in social situations. But if I was drawing something in my very well-used, duct-taped [sketchbook], I had an icebreaker, [a] conversation starter."

She was also able to turn her painting into a side hustle pre-pandemic when she hosted live or guided painting nights. Her last live paint for TransLink was on Aug. 29, but people can find her art here.

Breakdancers Phil Wizard with Thaiyo and Eloquence will be performing next in September and then Adrian Sinclair also known as Prof Prawns will be performing with various guest DJs and spoken word poets in October. Find the full schedule here.