Northwest Territories, Canada
humble, creative, innovative
I would say that my style is Impressionism with an abstract twist.
Art has always been a passion of mine. I come from a long line of artists. My mother is a highly creative soul and watercolour artist, as is my grandfather, and great-grandfather before him. As a small child, I remember watching my mother paint, in awe of her creativity. As I grew older, I would often gaze with bewilderment at my great-grandfather’s paintings that adorned several walls of our house. Even at a young age, I loved the feeling of creating “something from nothing”. I would spend countless hours sketching my favourite super-heroes and dreaming up new characters of my own. I can still recall the excitement that I felt when I completed a drawing. That feeling is addictive and is one that I still crave to this day.
As teenager, growing up in Barrie, Ontario, I continued to enroll in my high school art classes, but the time I spent sketching and drawing was replaced by afterschool workouts as well as football or rugby practice.
It wasn’t long before I found myself in the whirlwind of university life. I studied health science at the University of Western Ontario and indulged in the student lifestyle – late nights, spending time with friends, working out, and studying. The thought of creating anything but an essay or research paper was a distant memory.
After completing my first degree, my wife Nicole (girlfriend at the time) and I decided that we needed an adventure. At the advice of my grandfather who said, “education is something that no one can take away from you”, we enrolled in teacher’s college at the university of Waikato in New Zealand. My experience in New Zealand was nothing short of amazing. The culture and pristine beauty of this country cannot be compared. When I wasn’t attending classes, I was taking full advantage of the warm climate and my beautiful surrounds by spending time outdoors.
Upon returning from New Zealand with my teaching degree, I soon found myself in a major dilemma – no only were teaching jobs scarce in Ontario, but I desperately craved adventure and an escape from the ordinary, mundane lifestyle I found myself in. When searching the Internet one evening, I came across an advertisement for teaching jobs in the North. Without hesitation, I completed the necessary forms and submitted my CV.
A few months later, I received a phone call about a potential teaching job opportunity. Two days and two interviews later, Nicole and I myself agreed to move to a small remote community in the Northwest Territories. I was soon to be principal and K-3 teacher at Alexis Arrowmaker School in Weweet’i.
My first year in the North was full of unique challenges and experiences. Needless to say, I instantly feel in love with my new home. I was drawn to the rugged landscape, tundra, and crooked “Seuss-like” trees. A professor of mine once said: “you will know when you find your ‘home’”. Well, for the first time in my life I could relate to that comment…. I knew that I had finally found my ‘home’.
During my first year in the North, I found myself in an art store purchasing a sketchpad and some pencils. It had been a long time since I had sketched or drawn anything. I’m not sure what made me purchase these materials after so many years. Perhaps it was the childlike voice inside my head urging me to regain my former creativity…or maybe it was that the untouched landscape that surrounded me was simply begging to be revealed…Either way, the beauty of the North inspired me to connect with my creative side and passion for art.
My life has continued to evolve, both creatively and personally. I find that I either have a volleyball, pencil, paintbrush, or baby in my hand! As an enthusiastic gym teacher by day, and loving husband, father, and artist by night, there is never a dull moment! I live each moment in the present and am ever grateful for the opportunity to create.
When did you first know you were an artist?
From the time I was a child.
Northern Landscapes and animals.
Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from travel through the north. Hiking, skidding, flying up into the Barrenlands, etc.
Why do you create art?
I started to paint as a hobby when I lived in a very remote community called Wekweeti. Population 130...I needed something to do with all my free time.
From this point in time, my hobby turned into a passion. My passion turned into sharing my art with friends and family.
How often do you create?
I create everyday for at least an hour!
What is the best artwork you ever created?
I would say my best current piece would be 'The Northern Life'. I like to call this painting a 'hybrid'. It combines my landscape work with my animals. For quite awhile I kept the two concepts completely separate, but lately I have decided to combine both elements of my work.
What role does the artist play in society?
Art is a huge part of all communities being that it creates a sense of culture! Without culture how can any community truly consider themselves a community?
Do you make a living with your art?
I do make a healthy income from my work. Through commissions, shows, online sales, etc.
My favourite ways of promoting my work online would be the use of Facebook and great social media websites such as your site!
I also enjoy using my personal website www. rcraig.org.
Firstly, would be my mother. She's a fantastic artist and works with many mediums.
Secondly, would be the Group of Seven, Ted Harrison, Graeme Shaw, and Vincent Van Gogh.
The beautiful landscaping of Northern Ontario and of The beauty of The Arctic!
Can you recommend a great contemporary artist?
A great contemporary artist would be Ted Harrison. He's Canadian and also from the North, (Yukon). He has a very vibrant voice within his work! I truly have learned a great deal from admiring his work!
Please tell us something interesting in your life.
Something interesting in my life would be while living in Wekweeti, NT the porcupine caribou herd would migrate across Snare Lake which was literally in our backyard. For approximately 1 full week we would watch the caribou herd march across the ice. There was thousands of these beautiful animals with metres of our house! A truly spectacular site!
Did you ever feel like giving up painting? Never!
Where do you see yourself as an artist 10 years from now?
I'd like to hope that I'll continue to evolve, grow and learn new practices within my work. I'd like to be continually developing and redefining my style in a positive manner.
Advice for Artists
Becoming familiar with social media today is such a huge part of an artists success!
Robbie is a professional artist working out of Yellowknife, NT. His work embodies the natural rugged beauty of the northern landscape that surrounds him. With an impressionistic style that is truly his own, Robbie creates fluid and colourful pieces that have a unique abstract feel.
To see more of Robbie Craig’s paintings, please visit him at the following:Art Website: RCraig
Facebook Page: Robbie Craig's Northern Projects