A painting easel and paints sit in the corner of Bobbi Pike’s living room, lit by a large front window. Finished paintings cover most walls in the home, with others stacked against a table near her painting area. An in-progress piece sits on her easel; a postcard-size photo nearby serves as a reference.
Many artists have a dedicated area in the home they use as a painting studio, and Bobbi tried that, converting an area in her basement to a studio. But she found it wasn’t working for her – she wanted to be upstairs, able to look outside, and to be with her husband and pets. So she moved her workspace into the living room.
It’s an unconventional move, but then there’s nothing really conventional about Bobbi’s approach to painting. For most of her life, she considered herself unartistic and had no interest in pursuing the arts. She couldn’t draw a straight line or stick man to save her life, she says. Still can’t, she says with a laugh. She’s never taken an art class and isn’t too concerned about what others consider proper when it comes to painting. She does it for herself, she says, and has no interest in appeasing critics.
It was her new house, she says, which prompted her to start painting. She and her husband, Geoff, had been spending money on updating and personalizing the house and it got to a point where Bobbi didn’t want to spend any more money on the house. But she wanted new art on the walls of her bedroom, the last room in the house to be updated.
She went downstairs, mixed up some paints, and found two old department store canvas paintings to paint over. She announced her intention to paint them, and her husband laughed. She told her father and her son. They laughed, too. “Everyone in my life had a big hee-haw,” she says, not letting their mirth stop her.
The painting, which she still has on a wall at home, wasn’t great, she admits, but it wasn’t horrible either. The day after doing it, she was in an uncharacteristically bad mood. Crooked and foul, as Bobbi tells it, until she realized it was because she missed having a paintbrush in her hand.
“So we went out that day and bought some real brushes and some real paint and canvases and it’s been absolutely crazy,” she says. That was in about 2012. She’s been painting ever since.
Her husband, who calls himself her biggest fan, built a website and Facebook page to promote Bobbi’s art shortly after she started painting. Still lacking confidence in her artistic abilities, Bobbi wasn’t ready for the world to see her art.
“When we were going live I literally cried ‘Don’t do it, people are going to laugh,’” she says. But they didn’t laugh.
Her work has been well received, with canvas reproductions of her paintings now being sold in stores across the province. Her Facebook page has more than 12,000 fans, and her booth at shows like Made Right Here, Christmas at the Glacier, and the Downhome Expo draw sizable crowds. She has done commissioned works, and people have asked her to teach art classes. This newfound popularity hasn’t gone to her head, and she still admits she has a lot to learn.
“But at the end of the day, people tell me it looks good. I enjoy the process, I enjoy the end process,” she says.
Her paintings, which she describes as a new take on what our parents used to hang on their walls, are mostly scenes of Newfoundland. Until recently she was an avid motorcycle rider, logging 20,000 or more kilometres each summer. She’s traveled nearly every road in the province and the memories of those trips now inform her paintings, which she describes as based on real scenes, but not necessarily realist.
Once a person who would laugh at the idea of calling herself an artist, Bobbi has become enthralled with paints and finds herself completely immersed in her art.
“Painting is pretty much it these days,” she says. “It’s my passion, it’s my life, it’s my work, it’s everything.”
Find Bobbi online at www.bobbipikeart.com
This article first appeared in the winter, 2014 print issue of Home & Cabin. Some details have been updated.