LIFE: Local named Artist to Collect
By Dawn Smith, The Airdrie Echo
September 30, 2015
Airdrie artist Veronica Funk has been honoured once again.
The prolific artist was one of 10 artists featured in the summer edition of Arabella, a Canadian art, architecture and design magazine.
Funk is no stranger to accolades, but she is thrilled to have the 16-page spread in the Artists to Collect section of the magazine.
“It’s pretty special,” she said. “It’s such an honour; it really is.”
The magazine featured 18 of Funk’s paintings from her Sacred Vessel and Totem Animals collections.
Funk grew up in northern Manitoba in the community of Leaf Rapids and her childhood was filled with images of the boreal forest and First Nations people she shared her community with.
Funk, a mother of two who has turned her creativity into a career, got an early start in the world of art.
While still in elementary school, she was exposed to the arts of beading, mocassin making, weaving and photography through her involvement with 4-H.
Several of those teachers were Cree “grandmothers” who inspired her in many ways, as did the beauty of her environment: the rivers, trees and animals that made up her surroundings.
One neighbour shared her wisdom with the young Funk.
“She told me, ‘We have to stop looking backwards. The only way we can heal is to move forward’” said Funk.
Funk, whose parents were Mennonite immigrants from Paraguay, named her after the Veronica in the Archie comics series, so it’s only natural that the artist began recreating those characters.
As her abilities grew, Funk began specializing in portraiture, noting it was her drawing ability that got her a spot in Red Deer College’s art department after her family moved to Alberta when she was in Grade 11 due to the failing mining industry in her beloved hometown.
But drawing was a difficult taskmaster.
“ I used to get so frustrated sitting for hours working on a drawing,” said Funk, who eventually pursued a career in bookkeeping as an alternative to becoming a professional artist.
She also had several bad experiences in the art world, pushing her into a deep depression.
But her talent still pushed Funk to create, and she was inspired during a workshop by a leader who told the class to “do what you love.”
When Funk realized that art could be freeing, she began to once again create, this time just to please herself.
“When I had a whole bunch of work I decided to put it out there,” said Funk.
She fell in love once again with painting and that passion still shines through in her current body of work, which feature highly saturated canvasses with abstract backgrounds teeming with the images and symbols of her youth.
Her Sacred Vessel collection features images of canoes or teepees.
“The canoes started because I missed [my hometown] so much,” she said, noting her first canoe painting sold before she even completed it.
Funk said the joy of splashing large swathes of colour onto her canvas and the freedom of not knowing how her paintings will end up is fulfilling.
The prolific painter is currently challenging herself to create 52 canvases featuring wildflowers in a year, much like the challenge she completed last year with her Totem Animals collection.
In addition to her large quantity of paintings, Funk does art journalling and writes for her numerous publications, such as Artful Blogging, Somerset Studios and Cloth, Paper Scissors.
She also puts on workshops, is employed at the Airdrie Public Library and is an active volunteer on numerous committees in Airdrie.
Her past work, Simple Pleasures, which features images of chairs, was featured on television, in magazines and at galleries around the country.
This time around, Funk is more selective about where her work is shown.
“I am only dealing with people I respect and admire,” she said. “It is just wonderful.”
Funk’s work is sold in Ayr, Ontario; Invermere, B.C.; and at four Alberta galleries, the closest being Inglewood Fine Arts in Calgary and Cochrane’s Just Imagan Art Gallery & Studio.