Like so many artists, when Judy Pohl is creating one of her mammoth murals, it’s often difficult and distracting to break from her work to chat with the public.
But at this Saturday’s Arts Alive Festival, the Langley City artist looks forward doing just that.
“My ultimate goal is to get out in the community and meet other business owners, residents, and artists,” said the 35-year-old painter who will be participating in Arts Alive for the five consecutive year.
“When I’m working, I so often have my face in the wall and don’t get a chance to interact with people,” Pohl elaborated, noting that she’s also often on the clock for a client and obligated to finish the piece in a timely fashion.
Pohl is a two-dimensional mixed media artist, who likes to produce art on a rather large scale.
Some of her most recent pieces have been murals she’s painted in downtown Langley City.
Although Pohl makes her living painting murals, chalkboards, windows and signs with Judy’s Custom Art Services, a few months back, she and her oldest daughter Maddie, 14, donated their time to create a bee mural on the side of the old Easingwood building in Salt Lane. [Langley City’s Salt Lane infused by artist’s inspiration, July 4, Langley Advance].
She called it a gift to her community.
The next week, she painted a mural at the entrance to All of Oils on Douglas Crescent. And, at present, she’s creating a series of four community-themed murals inside Timms Community Centre multi-purpose rooms.
Each of the murals focuses on a different area of the City. One, already finished, is of Brydon Lagoon, while the others are Sendall Gardens, Penzer bike and parkour park, and one of the historic downtown (including Michaud House).
Those murals should be complete part way through September.
But this weekend, with her bee mural as her backdrop, Pohl is taking part in another Arts Alive and tackling another mural. This one for herself.
“I’m going to be displaying pictures of my previous work, and I have a large mural demo that I will be bringing along and painting throughout the day. It’s a piece of art I have wanted to paint for myself for a long time, but haven’t had a chance,” she explained.
It’s a five-foot-square piece of wood, she’s hoping to begin this week and finish on the weekend – during Arts Alive. The goal, she said, is to ultimately hang in her stairwell.
“I’m going to leave it incomplete, approximately 50 per cent done, so festival-goers can view the process,” she said. “It’s all drawn up in my head, but I have nothing on paper or wood yet. It’s going to be a waterfront scene with a red canoe. We have a canoe that’s red that we love to spend time in as a family visiting the different lakes around the area.”
Pohl was a stay-at-home mom when she made the leap from a hobbyist to professional artist.
Sure, like many, she’d studied art in school – at Rick Hansen Secondary in Abbotsford.
“During high school I had a really inspiring teacher that always worked hard to challenge us as individuals,” she recounted.
Pohl even studied art for a year at the University of the Fraser Valley, but much of her artistic skills have been self taught.
The turning point came when she responded to a Craigslist posting.
“I saw an opportunity to use some of my time to help the family by making some extra money.”
That was 11 years ago now, and she was subsequently asked to paint murals in the bedrooms of each of the family’s three children. It was a pivotal project for the Langley City artist.
“I love painting murals, I like taking a small concept and turning it into a huge piece of art. It is very gratifying!”
The community seems equally appreciative of her work.
The recent bee mural, as an example, continues to generate public reaction.
“I have received several emails from community members, including one email was from the granddaughter of the former owner of the building,” Pohl said. “And my daughter always likes seeing pictures pop up on Instagram of people posing in front of the mural.”
Pohl is one of about 140 artists, artisans, and crafters taking part in this weekend’s Arts Alive Festival, Saturday, Aug. 19 on the one-way section of Fraser Highway, in downtown Langley City.
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