British Columbia

A pet painter, a forager and a bike part crafter: meet 3 unique Northern B.C. artists

A pet-painting Picasso, a forest-foraging phenom and a wheel-working wreath-wright may just be three of the most interesting artists in Prince George.

CBC Radio’s Betsy Trumpener has been meeting some of Northern B.C.’s quirkiest craftspeople

A stunning likeness! Revel the dog was painted in one of Erin Stagg's Prince George pet painting parties. Stagg is one of three artists profiled for a series on CBC Radio One's Radio West. (Cassie Young)

A pet-painting Picasso, a forest-foraging phenom and a wheel-working wreath-wright may just be three of the most interesting artists in Prince George.

CBC Radio's Betsy Trumpener has been meeting some of Northern B.C.'s quirkiest craftspeople for Makers, a series on Radio West.

Here are those artists.

Pet portraiter

Revel poses for his portrait at a Pet Portrait Painting party, run by Erin Stagg in Prince George. Stagg helps beginning artists capture their canines and cats on canvas, but usually uses photos rather than live animal models. (Cassie Young)

Erin Stagg is a painter who loves teaching others how to get their furry friends' best side at pet painting parties.

Participants bring a photo of their pet to the party. Stagg gets the canvas started by sketching the photo and then instructs the participants how to interpret the sketch.

"We're able to do more interesting and complicated things even though the people that I'm teaching are total beginners," Stagg said. "It really just shows you like people can do anything."

Stagg has been leading painting parties for about three years now but said she enjoys the unpretentious work.

"Painting parties are definitely a less traditional avenue of a career option for an artist," she said.

"It's just really down to earth."

Listen to the full story:

'Wild crafter'

Crystal Kennedy gathers wild plants in the bush outside Prince George to make soaps and salves. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC)

Crystal Kennedy calls herself a "wild crafter."

Living off the grid outside of Prince George she harvests herbs and medicinal plants, berries, barks and roots. She says she infuses them with various oils and turns them into medicinal creams and salves, lotions and bars of soap and sells them.

"I have so much fun doing it that I forget sometimes that it is my job," Kennedy said. "Everywhere I walk I keep an eye out for things that I could bring to the people in towns and cities that can't necessarily get out to the bush and to the rivers."

Kennedy says her youth was largely spent in rural, isolated places where she and her family learned to make the most of what the bush had to offer.

A Metis woman, she credits her Indigenous heritage for many of the skills she uses today and says she feels fortunate to be able to connect with nature for her work.

"Every single nation under the sun on this world has their roots in herbal medicines," she said.

Listen to the full story:

Bike part recycler

Koops, who works at Koops' Bike Shop in Prince George, turns old bike parts into clocks, wreaths, and Christmas trees. (Marianne Koops)

Marianne Koops uses recycled bike parts for many things: clocks, jewelry, candle holders and Christmas ornaments like wreaths.

She works in a bike shop where she gets most of her parts, but garage sales and donations from friends are a big part of her supply as well.

"My pantry became my bike parts storage room," Koops said. "Most of my ideas just come to me in the middle of the night when I don't sleep right."

One of those ideas is a Christmas tree made out of bicycle gears.

"I had a stack of them sitting there one day on the table and I thought, hey, it kind of looks like a little Christmas tree," she said. "So I painted it green and glued them together and put some decorations on it."

Koops said one of her motivations is to keep material out of the landfill. She said the amount of "perfectly good" metal thrown away is a pet peeve and she wanted to find a way to reuse some of it.

"I had to do something about it," she said. "So I create cool stuff out of garbage."

Listen to the full story:

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West