FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — An artist who lived in Fort St. John for several years recently opened an art gallery and studio in Australia to display and sell her art.
Jenna Chartrand, who lived in Fort St. John for most of her childhood, found a little shop for lease in a town currently seven kilometres from where she lives.
Chartrand opened up her shop on August 9th and said the decision to move from her home studio to an actual building was due to “a right time, right place situation.”
After finding out the building was within her price range, she got in touch with the owner and said everything happened very quickly.
“It’s the most beautiful building, it’s over 100 years old, it’s got these 12-foot ceilings. It’s quite small, only 20 square metres,” Chartrand said.
“It needed a little bit of TLC, new floorboards, and a lot of paint, but I could see that it would be fantastic.”
Not only is the studio a space for Chartrand to create, but it also allows her to display and sell her prints, original pieces, stickers and greeting cards. All of her work can also be found online.
The former Fort St. John resident has been a professional artist for three years but has been involved in art most of her life.
Originally, Chartrand had planned to go to the Emily Carr University of Art + Design after she did some travelling. She planned to backpack across Australia, New Zealand and Asia in the span of a couple of years.
However, while in the midst of her journey across Australia in 2015, she fell in love.
“When I came to Tasmania, I met my partner, Josh… I never ended up leaving,” Chartrand said.
She has been in Tasmania for about seven years and officially became an Australian citizen in 2023.
Chartrand’s interest in travelling was sparked while participating in a Sunrise Rotary Club of Fort St John program.
“I went to Belgium as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in 2011 and 2012, and then from there, it just all exploded,” Chartrand said.
The program was shut down during the pandemic, but the Sunrise Rotary Club told Energeticcity.ca they’d like to bring it back if students are interested in joining the club.
Chartrand’s preferred medium is coloured pencils due to her being able to get the details she wants in a mess-free way.
“It’s something that you can walk away from and come back from as many times as you like, and you’re able to leave it exactly the way that you want to leave it,” Chartrand explained.
“Whereas with painting, I mean, you have to clean your brushes, you have to reset your palette. It’s a whole process just to start painting, and I’m a very impatient, immediate person.”
Her focus is wildlife and pet portraits, but she recently started working in florals and botanicals.
Currently, she’s working on “The Wallflower” series.
“Instead of working on paper, I’m actually working on birch panel, and I’m exploring how that works,” Chartrand said. “It’s a much different process than what I’m used to.”