Sue Pyper and her octopus creation. Photo supplied

Sue Pyper and her octopus creation. Photo supplied

Courtenay artist creates images on sustainably harvested wood

Sue Pyper draws inspiration from the peace and serenity of the Comox Valley

Courtenay artist Sue Pyper has a knack of instilling life into wood — live-edge wood, to be precise — with beautiful depictions of wildlife.

A work dubbed Coming Home, as an example, tells a story of spawning chinook salmon, ‘swimming’ across a piece of wood seven-and-a-half feet in length.

She loves sculptural forms such as sea lions, elephants and octopus, which lend themselves to her technique.

“I use an old-fashioned dip pen a lot of the time, and acrylic ink,” said Pyper, whose studio is in Cumberland. “I use a technique called pointillism, which means the image is made up of lots of little dots. I use live edge-wood that’s sustainably harvested.”

By using dots, the wood still shows through. It appears the art is emerging from the wood, as opposed to being painted on it. The technique requires patience as it is time-consuming, but Pyper finds it to be a meditative experience that takes her to a Zen place.

“I love working on wood. It’s my thing.”

Pyper had attended art school in her hometown of London, England, after which she “did practical things” such as magazine design and production. She’s also worked in photography and graphic design, but returned to the world of art about 10 years ago.

Pyper emigrated to Canada in 2000. The peace and serenity of the Comox Valley contributes to the art she creates. She has exhibited in venues and at events throughout Vancouver Island, including the Sooke and Sidney Fine Arts Shows. A highlight has been the One Tree Exhibit at the Robert Bateman Gallery in Victoria.

“They take one tree, and 76 artists will create art and furniture and instruments from this one tree,” said Pyper, who met Bateman at the opening. “The highlight of my career so far, I think.”

Her work can also be found at the Salish Sea Market in Bowser and the Reflecting Spirit Gallery in Ucluelet, as well as private collections around North America and the UK. Her design and art also appears on the label of Raven’s Moon cider.

“Starting to get a little bit of a name,” she said with a laugh.

Pyper has entered her elephant piece in the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s Wildlife Artist of the Year contest.

She has not won an award for art, but has for music. The singer/songwriter won the Best Song category of the Vancouver Island Music Awards for the tune, Before You Learn to Fly.

“I mostly do solo, but I was part of a band called Voices Three with Helen Austin and Judy Wing.”

The trio used to perform an annual charity show for the Comox Valley Hospice Society.

She continues to fit in gigs as she focuses on art. Pyper has performed a few times at Vancouver Island MusicFest. This summer, she will perform at Nautical Days in Comox.

She also plans to exhibit her art at the Filberg Festival, also in the summer in Comox.

Pyper will be hosting an open studio April 9 and 10 in Cumberland with fellow studio artist, Corre Alice. It runs from 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. both days at 2782 Allen Ave.

At other times the studio is open by appointment only.

ArtComox Valley


Sue Pyper