I grew up on the outskirts of Chicago when there were still swampy vacant lots, forest preserves and farmland near our home. I was the eldest of seven children, my grandfather was a gardener, attuned to weather and devoted to growing food and flowers, my mother loved nature and poetry. Experiences of the natural world still make for some my most glowing memories of chldhood. In our busy house, my interest in arts and crafts was encouraged. My father, a dentist, was also a project person, trips to lumberyards and watching him build taught me the possibilities of envisioning and then making things happen! I graduated from high school in 1967, then studied English, Art and History at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois near our home.
In 1971, I moved to Toronto with the opportunity to learn at Patmos, a Christian Art workshop, and to take other classes in Toronto. Canada was an eye-opening experience. I went to the west coast for a winter, did some traveling across the country the next year, and then moved to the "country" near Tweed, Ontario in 1975. I worked at settling in, a "transplant", sending down roots among friends and in a landscape I had come to love deeply. I worked at various jobs, many of them outdoors, and kept quilting and drawing and painting part-time, learning as I went, fortunate to have mentors who were exceptional artists.
In 1991, I married; my name changed from Vander Weele to Vander Wey. I moved to my husband's family farm, still in the Tweed area. I worked at a group home for autistic young adults. In 1994, our daughter Emily was born, and I cared for her, for the farm and garden, meanwhile doing art in winter. Joe died suddenly in 1999, and as time went on I realized that holding our home space and raising Emily meant the most to me. I continued with some artwork and commissions, local shows and studio tours and have had work at Quinn's of Tweed Art Gallery. I still do art in winter, spending other seasons on farm and garden and on projects with Emily. I'm grateful for our life in such a beautiful part of the country.
Soft pastel resembles chalk but is made of pure artist's pigments. It works like drawing, hand to colour to paper. I appreciate it's immediacy and texture and fresh colour and the way it suits working in snatches of time. My art can be called "pastel paintings" as they are developed very much like a painting, although they must be framed under glass. Over the years, I have made many portraits from favourite photos that people have brought to me. My style is changing with my eyesight, less precise, but perhaps more insightful. I do many more landscapes now, often of our farm and the surrounding countryside. Animal portraits began with requests, but having horses, goats and pets has helped me see and appreciate their life force and expressiveness.