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Category: Celebrating Success
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Art is a way for Craig Erickson to communicate, despite his disability
2 min. read

Craig Erickson began painting in 1983. He went to art school and did well in classes where he worked with his hands; however, he was unable to pass the electives due to undiagnosed dyslexia. He ended up dropping out and working in the oil patch, where he painted during his down time. He says art is a way for him to communicate despite his dyslexia. “My language isn’t really written. It’s in paint. Without paint, I would be lost in this world.”

In 1992, he had a fire where all his paintings, except one, were destroyed. The next year, his girlfriend died and Erickson stopped painting altogether. His return to art-making resulted from a chance encounter in 2001. He was walking down a street in Saskatoon when he came across a sign for the Darrell Bell Gallery and decided to check it out. The work he saw there made his heart skip a beat. Erickson struck up a conversation with Bell, the owner of the gallery and the artist who had created the work, and told him that he used to paint. Bell encouraged him to bring his work by the gallery and was impressed by what he saw.

However, Erickson hadn’t painted seriously in so long that he needed to work hard to get back to his previous skill level. “We represent artists, but we also mentor them,” says Bell. “Some people never get back to where they were. But I kept telling him to keep painting. His work got better and better over the course of eight years, and we eventually took him on.”

Erickson says that getting his skills back felt like an accident. “One day, it just happened. I thought, ‘Ah, I remember this. That’s all I have to do – play with the paint.’ The more you play with paint, the more the paint tells you what to do,” he says. “You can’t make a painting – the painting makes you.”

Erickson’s day job is in construction framing. He wakes up at 3 a.m. and paints before work, as well as on weekends. An Independent Artists grant enabled him to create 60 new works, many of which have already been purchased by patrons of Bell’s gallery. “Much in the way construction happens, I like taking the little pieces together for a final product,” he says. “Painting helps me to make sense of the world. It gives me purpose. I’m just lucky to paint.”

 

 

 

Top:

Craig Erickson
Meadow Green, 2017
oil on panel

Bottom:

Craig Erickson
Living Sky, 2017
oil on panel

Photos courtesy Darrell Bell Gallery