DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Dawson Creek artist Payge Fortier says she’s had one her best years ever for being able to just get into the studio, launching her exhibition Bos Taurus this past spring at the Kiwanis Performing Arts Centre.

Fortier says receiving the Dawson’s Creek Artist in Residence allowed her to push her creativity, and dedicate a significant amount of time to the craft, beyond the few hours she could spare from her 9 to 5 life.

“Bos Taurus was my first solo show, so that was a huge step for me. The residence really made a difference. I was able to create a lot more. When I had my business I could maybe produce three paintings a year that I was happy with,” said Fortier. “There were eight pieces that I created for that, and that was only in a three month period.”

Fortier says the great thing about being part of the Dawson Creek art community is that everyone is highly supportive of one another. Fortier was mentored by Haley Bassett, the new executive director of the Peace Liard Regional Arts Council.

“We’re super supportive here and I think that is a rarity, actually. You’re never competing here, and that’s really how it should be all around,” said Fortier. “If someone’s influencing you or inspired by you, you should take it as a compliment.”

Fortier was raised on a small cattle operation outside of Dawson Creek, with creative types of both sides of her family, and took first her art class at the Dawson Creek gallery when she was nine.

It became a lifelong practice. Fortier enrolled in Laine Dahlen’s Visual Arts Program at Northern Lights College before transferring to Alberta’s University of Arts in Calgary.

She’s looking forward to teaching the craft through pet portrait workshops, and continuing the cattle theme, with more bovine-inspired art to be entered into the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) juried exhibits.

“I’m just hoping to keep going. Right now I’ve been entering into the juried shows. The last one was in Grande Prairie, so I’ll be actively engaging with that chapter and continuing to do that. I’d love to get another artist in residency,” said Fortier.