Showcasing emerging writers


As a lead-up to the Mayor’s Spotlight on the Arts on September 26th, five young Canmore writers have interviewed and written articles about the artists being recognized this year. Their articles will be featured here at over the next few weeks. Local writer, Heather Walter, is serving as mentor for the project.

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By: Britanny Burr

Photo courtesy of Patrick McCloskey

Photo courtesy of Patrick McCloskey


In 1987, Shirley Chinneck retired from a 45 year nursing career to pursue life as an artist. She received a great deal of support from her family, her husband in particular, who told her to “go for it!”

Since her retirement and the beginning of her career as an artist, Shirley has actively participated in the thriving Bow Valley arts community. She recently applied for and was selected to be one of five artists to create artwork for the Town of Canmore’s new Utility Box Project. You can see her blue delphiniums on the utility box across from Elevation Place.

Shirley has a 10 year pin for her time spent drawing weekly portraits of patients in long term care at the Canmore Hospital. The original drawings remain at the hospital, but she made copies for the patients’ families. One patient’s family was enormously grateful for the portrait because they did not have any pictures of their loved one. Shirley said that the patients love having someone pay complete attention to them, and she was happy to fulfill that best online casino role while working on her drawing skills.

Shirley responded with characteristic humility about her perception of herself as an artist, saying, “I’m self-taught, I’m still not very confident.” However, she admitted that that changed when she started to get accepted into galleries. Shirley”s work is exhibited in the Avens Gallery on Main Street in Canmore.

Shirley uses a number of different media for her art. “Someone told me to specialize, but I didn”t,” she explains. “Some things look like water colours, some look like acrylics, so I paint what I see.” When choosing what to create next, Shirley says that she simply paints what she wants to paint, not what a gallery wants. Throughout Shirley’s art career she has created countless gorgeous works of art, of different subjects and by using different media, yet she often finds that she is not entirely satisfied with what she creates. She enjoys the chance to paint with others so they can step in and say, “Stop before you spoil it!”

Shirley believes that making art requires “a little bit of talent and a lot of hours spent.” She also emphasizes the importance of working hard on one’s drawing skills. She has spent countless hours drawing in studios, parks, nurseries and ballet classes, all following shifts at the hospital. While living in Montreal, she would sit in the park in Westmount, drawing. When curious children would approach her and ask what she was up to, she would draw them, showing them as she went. Similar to her experiences sketching patients, the children were excited to see their faces come to life on the page and to have the chance to take their drawings home with them.

Art work by Shirley Chinneck

Art work by Shirley Chinneck

When Shirley received the news that she would be featured in the Mayor’s Spotlight on the Arts, she was both surprised and delighted, pleased to be recognized among  the ranks of “so many talented and interesting people” in Canmore.

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Shirley made a big decision to transition from life as a nurse to life as an artist. Luckily for us, Canmore played a part in this transition. And luckily for us, this wonderful woman and artist has made Canmore her home.

Britanny graduated from Mount Royal University this April with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is excited to be back in her hometown doing some freelance writing in this amazing arts community. 

The Mayor’s Spotlight on the Arts will take place at the Canmore Miners’ Union Hall on Friday September 26, 5:30 pm. Tickets are $20 through the Arts and Culture department at Canmore Civic Centre, 403.678.1546. Join us for an evening of wine, appetizers and a celebration of the arts in Canmore. 

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Highline Magazine

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