Aarron Chicoine has spent hours and hours in the waiting room of the doctor’s office.
One day, she saw a little girl who was noticeably sick. Chicoine happened to have a few paintings in her car, so she rushed outside and came back with the one she felt would suit the little girl the best.
This isn’t an uncommon gesture. She said she carries a stash of glow-in-the-dark necklaces in her purse to distribute to sick children she feels might need a pick-me-up.
Chicoine, who lives on a farm just outside of Prince Albert, is known as Accidental Artist. She suffered a brain injury after a car accident 10 years ago and, after a re-injury eight years later, she started practicing art therapy.
“I started going by Accidental Artist because I wasn’t an artist until after the accident,” she said, emphasizing that painting has a special way of relieving the pressure from her brain.
“There’s days when I have a hard time putting sentences together. If I paint for a while, it seems to help everything.”
Chicoine said she doesn’t use paint brushes because of a reduction in hand-eye coordination—she uses her fingers, sculpting tools or a zip lock bag with a tiny hole cut out of the corner.
The piping bag method allows her to create textured, three-dimensional pictures such as on the trunk of a tree. She also pipes tiny dots of paint onto the canvas to make the leaves.
This, however, requires weeks and sometimes months of work.
“Sometimes it takes five or six days of working on it and then letting it dry and then working on it and letting it dry to get the build up,” she explained. “Some of the trees take over a month to do because you’ve got to let the leaves dry, otherwise you end up with a big green blob instead of individual dots.”
In other pieces, she incorporates sheets of music, clock gears, peacock feathers, sand and real leaves.
If you see Chicoine selling her work at a trade show, you might not notice their most defining element—if you put them in a dark room, they transform.
Many of the paintings, for example, have a quote stencilled into a blank space that you can faintly see when in the light. At night, the quote stands out in black against the glow-in-the-dark layer over other elements of the painting.
The glow-in-the-dark idea started when Chicoine was doing a craft for her friend’s children.
“I was in bed for like seven years. When you stare at your walls for a long time, (you) think about things. I had the glow-in-the-dark paint because I was doing fairy jars for a friend. Burning candles are dangerous for kids and then electric candles were getting expensive because they left them on at night, so she wanted me to find an easy, cheap way to do them,” she said.
“Because the glow was so expensive, I was saving it on tin foil and I started to play with the paint on tin foil, so my first five paintings were done on tinfoil and then I wrapped them on cardboard.”
Because of the glow-in-the-dark element, Chicoine can’t do prints, making every piece an original. Additionally, sometimes she doesn’t know what the finished product will be when she starts.
“When I started it, it was just squirting paint on a canvas and smearing it together and seeing how it’s going to turn out. And then once I get a background, then it’s like ‘Oh, that reminds me of this.’”
Chicoine mainly sells her paintings at trade shows. She said she’s lucky if she breaks even, but she’s not in it for the money.
“I really am not making any sort of headway towards profit, but that doesn’t matter. It’s way better than having hundreds and hundreds in my house and having nothing to do with them. And I love giving them,” she said.
In fact, she takes a photo of every person who purchases her paintings so she “can look back and see their faces.”
“They’ll tell me their story or how this painting helped them,” she said, referring to a family who purchased a piece because it brought back memories.
“They had lost someone who was a piano player in their family and they bought one with music notes in the background and stuff to remind them of their loved one,” she explained.
Chicoine was set up at the Carlton Crushes Cancer fundraising trade show on Saturday. If she unexpectedly gets sick before a show, her daughter takes over the booth.
“The support they’ve given me and stuff has really made the difference.”