15 Oct Stories of Starting Episode 13: Patricia Srigley, Artist, Author
Stories of Starting Episode 13: Patricia Srigley is a Montreal artist who suffers from Multiple Creative Personality Disorder (MCPD–self-diagnosed). She paints, sculpts, writes, photographs, crafts, and always, always, try new things.
Watch the interview on YouTube:
Intro: Welcome to the stories of starting podcast. I’m Heather Boyd as a self-employed artist for the last 30 years. I’m fascinated with people’s passions and creative projects in this series. We discover how people like you have started new projects by thinking outside the box going with the flow and tapping into their childhood imagination.
Heather: Welcome to the podcast. Today I’m here with my friend Patricia Srigley. Patricia introduce yourself and tell everybody a little bit of what you do.
Patricia: I’m an author and an artist. My name is Patricia Srigley and I do a lot of different things. I write books and I illustrate them. I do collage and painting and sculpture and beading and pottery, etcetera.
Heather: Yes, and we are in Patricia’s amazing studio surrounded by a gazillion beads. I thought I had beads. I have nothing compared to you. Your canvases and work by others artist who inspire you. It’s a beautiful workspace. It’s fantastic. I always like to start the podcast by backtracking a little bit and telling everybody how we met. So you might have to refresh my memory. I don’t remember what year it was. But at least 10 years ago, I would say.
Patricia: Oh, more.
Heather: We met at Stewart Hall. Patricia was selling at an Art show at the Lakeshore Artists Association show at Stewart Hall At the time I used to go every year to the show. I wandered by and I was super impressed. At the time Patricia was selling exclusively the collages, right?
Heather: I had never really invested in Art. There was a piece that I loved with a baby done in a collage. I bit the bullet and I bought the piece. We got to chatting and I think at the time you had just started writing. You had just mentioned it but didn’t we didn’t really talk a lot about it. Then we didn’t really see each other and then we ran into each other one day in the IGA.
Patricia: Because I moved away.
Heather: Oh, that was it! That was a long time ago.
Patricia: Yes, at least 15 years.
Heather: That’s right because you moved away. At the time you were still teaching, right?
Heather: So why don’t we talk a little bit about that. You studied Fine Art and you started as a teacher. Tell us a little bit about that.
Patricia: I did teach art. I have to admit I didn’t love it. Being a high school teacher you do need to be a bit of a disciplinarian. As an artist and a quiet person I wasn’t. Also being a teacher it left no time for me to do my art. Not even a minute. So after about six years I stopped.
Heather: When I met you you were doing collage. Over the years you picked up you beading and you were doing pottery.
Patricia: I have always done pottery.
Heather: You had a kiln.
Patricia: I still have one. I was a painter before I was a collage artist. I have always liked trying new things. The beading came from you Heather. You started me.
Heather: Oh yes, of course, I corrupted you!
Patricia: Yes, thoroughly corrupted.
Heather: Yes, you have so many beads now. Patricia goes to a lot of garage sales and hoards beads.
Patricia: And people give me beads.
Heather: And then we’ve discovered a few really good bead stores in Montreal too.
Patricia: I found one in Toronto this week.
Heather: I’ll have to check it out. You did a lot of the pottery and then you were doing some smaller pieces. You did the bigger pieces like the masks and you did little magnets.
Patricia: Yes, I do the wall sculptures which are quite large and they hang on the wall. To fill all the empty kiln space I do smaller things. I do pottery magnets because I do a lot of arts and craft shows. The pottery magnets sell well so I make those.
Heather: Yes, it’s fun to have smaller ticket items.
Patricia: You need some smaller items at shows.
Heather: Definitely and of course you do cards with your with your collages and your paintings.
Heather: Patricia just showed me she’s putting out a colouring book. So that’s pretty cool. Here’s the test page and I’ll insert photos of Patricia’s work in the blog. Tell us how the colouring book came about. This is a pretty intricate design.
Patricia: Well, I’ve wanted to do one for a long time. When you break down the collages into black and white using Photoshop and turn them into line drawings they’re really interesting. They have some subtle textures that you can colour over with pencil crayons so the textures will show through. I thought of doing it for about three years. I’m finally doing it.
Heather: That’s amazing. And you have a good printer in town that does a lot of samples for you and your books. It’s nice to be able to work so closely with the printer to be able to get the types of products that you want. That’s fantastic. I love it. Patricia and I used to do a lot of Art nights where we would experiment with different media. I know you’re trying to focus a little more on on certain specific media now. Tell us a little bit about about the beading. What sort of things have you been making with the beads?
Patricia: Well, I don’t do jewelry I make little gods and goddesses. They are to hang on the window or wherever else. They’re sort of good luck window charms. They’re all creatures. There’s Dionysus the god of wine and there’s Poseidon and guardian angels. I have about 25 characters now.
Heather: That’s amazing. I’ll definitely put pictures on the blog. But those are time consuming. I’m always trying to encourage you to find shortcuts to do these things. But I really think you’re a glutton for punishment. You really like putting all this time into little things.
Patricia: They have to look just right. I don’t want to make them if they don’t look just right.
Heather: The collages for example, how much time would go into your average size collage?
Patricia: I don’t time how long it takes because it’s just discouraging. I did time the one I did for the Mount Royal Cemetery. It took about 90 hours.
Heather: Wow, that’s amazing. I know when I work I do a lot of multitasking. I’ll listen to podcasts or things like that. I know at one point you were listening to talking books. Do you still do that?
Patricia: I still do that. Whenever I’m beading or collaging or painting I’ll listen. I go through about three talking books a week.
Heather: That’s fantastic. When you don’t have time to read necessarily it’s a good a good alternative. It’s good option. And what are your favourite types of audio books?
Patricia: Oh just the kind I write. Fun fantasy adventures.
Patricia: I had given up the collage for a while. It was so time-consuming.
Heather: I remember.
Patricia: You only had the one original to sell. In the last few years, over the last 10 years, technology has allowed for working digitally in Photoshop. Now when I create a collage I can also use it for my cards and my calendars and t-shirts and even book covers. I’ve gone back to it because I’m using it for different things.
Heather: That’s amazing because I had noticed in the last couple of years you’ve really gone back to the collage. It’s true if you can get multi-purpose out of one collage it’s well worth the investment in time. That’s a that’s a great way to look at it. You love doing it but at the same time you have to make a living. Tell us a little bit about the writing. I remember when you told me you were writing a book I was fascinated. There’s a lot of people that want to books. You didn’t go halfway, you went full on. How many books do you have now?
Patricia: I have three coming out this year. A children’s one, which I’ve geared it a bit younger. I started doing Illustrated children’s books when I had my first grandchild, which was nine years ago. This will be my eighth or ninth children’s book.
Patricia: It’s called Stomp, Stomp, Stomp The Elephant’s Lunch. It’s geared a bit younger than some. I’m also am doing a book for tweens or preteens. I have the advanced reading copy here. It’s absolutely full of little sketches. It was a lot of fun to do. It was almost three years in the making.
Heather: I remember when you first told me that about this book, I thought it was an amazing idea. I just love how varied it is, how interactive it is. It’s so cool. I’m so happy it’s finally done.
Patricia: And then the teen ones. This was this is the first book I ever wrote that Heather was talking about. I love that book. (shows April, May, June book)
Heather: It was a beautiful series. There were four in the series?
Patricia: Yes. The fifth is still in my head.
Heather: Cool. So that was the April, May, June series. That was a fantasy novel?
Patricia: Yes it’s a fun fantasy adventure. Everything I write has a happy ending, spoiler alert!
Heather: There you go. Patricia and I were talking earlier about how with so many projects that she’s working on, how do you combine all these in a way that people know you for something identifiable.
Patricia: As an artist so many people tell me you should really only do one trademark thing. For me that’s impossible. I like doing different things. I’m trying to find a way to bring it all together. You say you were mentioning…
Heather: Yes, we were talking about creating video trailers for her books to promote the books on YouTube. Already you have a channel you’ve done a few readings and different things. We spoke about the idea of having a persona that you would be able to use to overlap into the different age ranges and things.
Patricia: I need to find the right hat to wear for my persona.
Heather: Yes, start with the hat and then we’ll go from there.
Patricia: And funny glasses!
Heather: Yes, and definitely you guys look out for all kinds of really cool trailer videos and stuff. Remember that time we filmed that video. Patricia had a short story in the…
Patricia: Quebec Writers Federation short stories competition.
Heather: Yes, I’ll link up the video of your reading of the story. We had filmed all this footage, spilling wine and breaking glasses and making a huge mess in your old kitchen. I don’t know what finally happened with all that footage. Oh, and the Goldfish. Remember you had all those goldfish.
Patricia: I was stuck with those goldfish for three years.
Heather: All in the name of Art.
Patricia: I don’t know what happened. I think we couldn’t get the digital stuff to work.
Heather: Maybe that was it. That was a long time ago.
Patricia: We were technologically challenged.
Heather: We had your old Panasonic camera. I bought one afterwards and used it for a while for my videos. Now of course it’s just filmed on your Pod, right? At the time it seemed so complicated but now it’s so much easier.
Patricia: It was complicated for us.
Heather: Now it’s much easier.
Patricia: So yes, video trailers coming.
Heather: I was telling Patricia the important thing on YouTube is the thumbnail. To have a really impactful thumbnail. That’s where the persona will come in. To be able to be identified when people go to your channel or or see it come up on YouTube. They’ll know right away. There’s that crazy author/artist woman!
Patricia: There she is.
Heather: That’s so funny. So tell me did you wake up one day and decided you wanted to write a book? How did it pop into your mind?
Patricia: I’ve always been very shy and I never liked speaking in front of people. I’d rather listen. I guess because through life I tried things that didn’t really work for me. Like being a teacher. It was not the right fit. I guess at one point I felt like I had lost my voice, my speaking voice. I replaced that with writing. Whenever I did my collages, all my collages have a story at least in my mind. Looking at them you can sort of probably imagine your own story. As I would do a collage it would have a whole story. I just switched to using words and I found it very smooth.
Heather: That is so cool.
Patricia: Just telling my story with words and instead of paint or collage.
Heather: Interesting. Certainly with collage being a very labor intensive process, you would have time to fabricate these stories and they kind of go hand in hand.
Patricia: Yes, it was very natural and I loved it and I still do.
Heather: That’s amazing and such a variety of writing too. I love that it was your grandchild that inspired you to write the first children’s book. That’s often the way. We’re inspired by people around us or what stage we’re at in our life to do different things.
Patricia: Yes, and this year I’ve written my first Adult Book. Here’s the advanced reading copy (shows book).
Heather: Yes, my sister got a little sneak peek of the advanced reading copy and and she said this was her favourite one so far. You’re on the right track. That’s awesome. And I love your covers to you. You do all the artwork for the covers.
Patricia: Yes, I do all the artwork.
Heather: That’s amazing.
Patricia: Yes, I’m excited about that one.
Heather: So it’s funny. I’m on my way over today I was thinking about different things we could talk about in the interview and it occurred to me that I’ve never really asked you what sort of things you did as a child. What art related things did you do? Did you paint, did you craft? I was obsessed with crafts growing up, but I’ve actually never asked you.
Patricia: Yes, I always did. I was always drawing. I had a chalkboard in my room and all kinds of coloured chalk. I would do beautiful pictures and then erase them.
Heather: Oh, that’s cool. I didn’t know that.
Patricia: When I was a child, in colouring books I always coloured in the lines.
Heather: That makes sense looking at the collages now. Teachers must have loved you.
Patricia: For a while. I know my mom has told me when we lived in a tiny little town in Quebec I started school there when I was four or five. They didn’t have kindergarten. There was an older couple who lived next door to us. My favourite thing was I would walk next door and they had lots of magazines believe it or not. The woman, her name might have been Ruth, she gave me scissors and I would sit on the floor and cut out magazine pictures for hours.
Heather: Well that makes total sense. Isn’t it funny that we’ve never talked about this, that I never knew. It’s true in those days we had the Sears catalog. We used to cut them up and make paper dolls out of those. Did you do the paper doll thing or it was mostly just to cut up.
Patricia: I just remember cutting.
Heather: Did you glue them down?
Patricia: No, I just cut.
Heather: You just cut! Jeez, you’re not a serial killer are you?
Patricia: Well, I would rather take things apart and put them together.
Heather: Well that’s interesting. But how cool is that? So you did the chalkboard that’s also interesting. Putting all this time into an image and then just erasing it. It’s like the Etch-a-Sketch thing. You spend all this time and then just shake it out.
Patricia: I had one of those too.
Heather: It’s a good lesson and get letting go. That idea of like creating artwork and just letting it go. It’s very appropriate for people that are very prolific artists because at some point you can’t keep everything.
Patricia: Well, if you look around my studio, yes, that’s very true.
Heather: I remember at one point I went through a lot of my old sketches from University and I just let them go.
Patricia: Keep the best.
Heather: At least now with digital photography, you can certainly keep a little sample of each. I’d be curious to know a little bit about where you find inspiration for your work. I know that you have a cottage, you go out in the nature, you like to walk, we play Scrabble.
Patricia: I get very inspired by cemeteries and abandoned places. Whenever I travel I visit the cemeteries and I love how the statuary gets aged and weathered. The statues will lose their heads and their hands and they get all mossy. I just find this very beautiful. I find that more interesting than an Art gallery. And abandoned properties. I love finding those and going in if I’m brave enough.
Heather: Yes, there’s whole Instagram accounts of people that document old abandoned places and hashtag abandoned places. So if ever you want inspiration there’s so much on Instagram You do you do a show in the in the Mont Royal Cemetery every year. I remember one year Patricia got me to model for her in the cemetery. We ran around and you took photos and you did an acrylic painting from that. I thought that was really fun. I mean I’m not obsessed with cemeteries, but I understand the beauty of it. There’s something about the lack of colour in cemeteries. I do like black and white things. That’s the beautiful thing about a lot of your pieces done in the cemetery is they’re very monochromatic. It’s very different from a lot of what you do with collage, which is very colourful.
Patricia: Because it has a different mood when you’re in the cemetery.
Heather: You like the nature. I know you like the ocean.
Patricia: Yes, I do like being out in nature and being solitary and always being on the move. I find it difficult to sit still.
Heather: Definitely, I remember I think it was my birthday party and we had the party in the gallery and you were always up and around and doing things. Anytime we go places. I’m a lot like that too.
Patricia: You are very much.
Heather: Find me a craft corner. I’ll be there all night just crafting.
Patricia: As long as you’re engaged. If I’m collaging or writing I can sit still for 12 hours. But as soon as my mind is not engaged, my body has to keep moving. It’s painful to sit still when you’re bored.
Heather: Yes, and what about the whole beading aspect. It’s funny because for somebody who likes to be always be busy I thought it might drive you a little crazy to be one place doing all that beading.
Patricia: As an artist I do have to try and make a living. The beading does sell well at my shows. You do have to do the things that pay for the table and pay your way so that’s beading.
Heather: That’s part of it. That’s right.
Patricia: And it is fun because I do create these designs. It’s like little sculptures. I really think of them like little sculptures. It’s a whole process because I have to find the right beads. I do the write-up about the character. I have to design it and make it. There are a lot of different steps.
Heather: I love your little ones with the cats. And I remember at one point we were looking for little cat heads. I like to take on these projects for Patricia. I’m like, how can I make a cat head out of material. I think we tried Fimo and felting.
Patricia: It was hard. I tried a lot of things. Nothing worked.
Heather: Although there’s a lot you could do with the clay to to make little shapes.
Patricia: I tried it, but I haven’t been happy with the results. It’s working very small. To get the head glazed completely isn’t easy either. I haven’t made one I’m happy with.
Heather: I’ve done clay with you a couple of times. Personally I don’t love clay because I don’t like the feel on my hands. I think I don’t like that there’s a delay between the final project and creating the item. It has to be fired and glazed. Maybe because I don’t have experience in the foresight to know what it’s going to look like. You’ve been doing pottery for a long time.
Patricia: Since I was eighteen or seventeen.
Heather: Okay, and what was the attraction to that?
Patricia: I really like Pottery. You make what you envision. It’s actually easier in some ways. It’s three-dimensional like life. Whereas the things that are two-dimensional are different from life. I find it harder. Sculpting comes quite naturally to me. You can see what something looks like you just make it look like that in 3D. We all like different materials. I don’t like chalk pastels.
Heather: I actually tried. I did a class in chalk pastels.
Patricia: Remember I went to one of yours because you couldn’t go.
Heather: I didn’t enjoy it either.
Patricia: It’s too dusty.
Heather: I agree with you. It’s a little a little too dusty. But it’s funny because you did it as a kid on your chalkboard, but it wasn’t something you really wanted to pursue.
Patricia: As a kid I think we’re a lot more open to things. We haven’t got set in our ways.
Heather: Yes, it’s true. And I just love that about the collaging with your neighbours when you were younger.
Patricia: I remember three or four and I’m sitting on the floor cross legged. Cut, cut, cutting.
Heather: We have to weave that into your story as an artist because I think gradually we’re going to develop this whole persona. Something like that could be a part of it. I got a flash of Edward Scissorhands with all his scissors.
Patricia: That’s first how I feel sometimes. I feel like Edward Scissorhands. When I’m working on collage cutting for hours I end up holding the scissors and not putting them down. So I’m doing all kinds of thing with scissors. I sort of learned to manipulate my hand that way. To hold scissors and do things other things at the same time.
Heather: Wow. So in the evolution, we’re going to evolve and there might be an Edward Scissorhands in the scheme of evolution.
Patricia: Yes, there’s all kinds of funny little quirky things with collage. In the summer when it’s really humid and I working here. There’s so many tiny pieces of paper and you’re bare armed and bare legged because it’s so hot. You sweat a bit and I will just be coated in little pieces of paper.
Heather: That’s hilarious.
Patricia: Even when I walk out of the studio they stick all over my feet. I can leave a little paper trail around the house like cookie crumbs.
Heather: It’s like getting glitter on you. When you’re working with glitter, you’ll find glitter on you for days.
Patricia; And it’s paper.
Heather: So you find paper on you for days.
Heather: That is so funny. One of the hazards of being an artist. So do you have anything you’d like to share with you audience? Any any tips for any artist? Things you’ve learned along the way.
Patricia: Like most artists I spent most of my life not marketing just sitting in my studio making things. You have to get out there and learn to market. I’m still in the process of doing that now. I’ve written my 24th book, and I’m just starting to market hopefully properly.
Heather: Yes, luckily now with social media it’s a lot more accessible.
Patricia: And the digital books.
Heather: So Patricia I know you do a lot of craft shows these days. Do you have any words of wisdom with regards to the doing craft shows for people that want to get started?
Patricia: I have a few words. One thing I struggle with, and I’m just the worst at it, is my table is always overcrowded. I do so many different things. I could easily fill three tables at any craft show. have to bring it down to one. I end up squishing too much stuff on that table. I think that’s hard for people to look at stuff. I always try and put less. Having a nice table with not too much stuff and a nice display. And always having some small items. A lot of people aren’t looking for big items and if they want to support you if you have something small they can pick that up.
Heather: That’s always a challenge. When I go to craft shows and I see people with a very sparse display I’m envious because I always tend to have too much stuff. You don’t want to leave anything out, right? It’s contradictory because sometimes people just go and they get so confused they just keep on walking. You need a couple of focus things that will pull people in.
Heather: What about online? Where can we find you online?
Patricia: I have a website, it’s SrigleyArts.com On Facebook I have a public page Patricia Srigley Author Artist On Instagram, it’s my name Patricia Srigley and Twitter Patricia Srigley Luckily. I have a very rare name. It’s easy to find.
Heather: And YouTube which we’ll be doing more on YouTube It’s the way to go. It’s really a great way to get your voice heard. I’ll link up the videos you have so far.
Patricia; There’s more coming very soon. I did some filming at the cottage. I’m not sure but the clips could work for The Top Secret Life of Timbuktu Kalamazoo or could work for Universe Idol. I got these little they’re blown glass spaceships, a flying saucer and a spaceship. They are Christmas tree decorations, but they’re quite large and they’re very nice. I made a campfire at the cottage and I put them in the fire and I filmed them burning.
Heather: Oh wow, that’s exciting. But what a cool idea to have a little bank of videos even if you’re not sure what you’re going to use them for. Just to keep them. I want to start doing that. A little video bank.
Patricia: I gave you an idea!
Heather: That’s awesome. I’m not sure what I would do with it. Mostly I do my DIY but I do have another channel that’s more experimental. That could be really cool for that. Isn’t it amazing anybody can become a filmmaker. When we were kids there was nothing like that. Some people had little video cameras, but now you get your phone, film a few clips and it’s like creating a collage in video.
Patricia: And the software is there to put it together and do few special effects and put text in.
Heather: Thanks everybody for watching and thank you Patricia for coming on the show. <hug>
Patricia: Thank you for having me on the show.
Heather: That was really fun and we look forward to all your new projects and creations.
Patricia: Can’t wait to make my video promo videos.
Heather: Yes, that’s next. We’ll get right on that.
Patricia: We’ve been saying that for two years.
Heather: We’ll do it.
Patricia: We’ll do it.
Heather: So bye everybody. See you next time.
Outro: Thanks so much for tuning into Stories of Starting. If you would like to inspire others with your story, big or small, be sure to reach out via StoriesOfStarting.com Until next time always remember your story matters.
Patricia’s Kindle books on Amazon: https://amzn.to/32hNnFu
Patricia’s short story Misguidelines received Honourable Mention, Quebec Writers’ Federation/CBC Writing Competition. Listen on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trB6xQR15D4