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Turner Valley artist takes watercolours by storm

Visual arts: Renee Carrier's art on display in Sheep River Library gallery
Renee Carrier  0023
Okotoks watercolour artist Renee Carrier works on a piece in her studio on July 19. Her work is on display in the Sheep River Library this month and next. (BRENT CALVER/Western Wheel)

A painting technique most artists move on from as their talent progresses continues to captivate an Okotoks artist 15 years later.

Former elementary school art teacher Renee Carrier expected to evolve from watercolours to oil or acrylic paints in her first years as an artist, yet she’s unable to put her watercolour brushes down.

More than a decade later, Carrier is filling Okotoks gallery walls with bright, colourful depictions of birds, wildlife, flowers and even candy.

“I started with it thinking it would be a stepping-stone and I would end up doing acrylics and oils,” she said. “A lot of people who use watercolour for sketches will go to another medium. Throughout the process of exploring it, because it’s got that vibrancy that you can’t get with other mediums, I couldn’t give it up.”

Carrier said she fell in love with the rich depth and details watercolours allow.

“I’ll sometimes do 20 layers or more - every layer brings out something new,” she said. “You can’t always control it. Sometimes it will surprise you. It’s really getting to know the paints and knowing how to use them. You can do anything with watercolour. There’s that vibrancy and there’s joy in it.”

Carrier’s paintings are now on display in the gallery at Turner Valley’s Sheep River Library this month and next, marking the first time she’s exhibited in the facility.

“To put your whole body of work out and people to come and see how you use colour or form, it’s a really good opportunity,” she said.

Foothills and Calgary artists display their work in the library meeting room for a month or two at a time.

Carrier said she received an invitation to do so while showcasing her paintings at Vale’s Greenhouse Cultivation of Art Show and Sale.

“I’ve gone and looked at all their displays they’ve had so I was really excited,” she said. “It’s just such a great opportunity. People who don’t normally seek out art and look for it, it’s there for them. It appeals to all ages.”

Carrier’s exhibit boasts paintings of food like candy, chocolate, fruits and vegetables, flowers, wildlife and birds.

Her watercolours are also displayed in Okotoks at Lineham House Galleries, A Very Delightful Boutique, and the Okotoks Health and Wellness Centre.

Carrier’s passion for art kick started 10 years ago after painting portraits for people who supported her in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2009. Since then, she’s continued to paint for herself and others, often using photographs as a guide.

“I’m captivated by landscapes,” she said. “I love to look at and experience everything around me in every way I can.”

Birds have been capturing Carrier’s attention in more recent years.

“They have so much more personality than you think they do,” she said. “When you look at them the expression you can see in them and the attitude that comes across and the energy that comes off of them, they’re just so fun. Red-winged blackbirds are so cheeky and they chase everybody away.”

Fifteen years ago when Carrier was hired as a kindergarten teacher at a charter school in Calgary, it was soon realized that two teachers were hired for the position and Carrier was given the option to teach art.

“It was a big opportunity for growth,” she said. “I did art instruction for five years. I really missed having my own class so I moved back to the classroom.”

Carrier currently works at Foundations for the Future Charter Academy in Calgary and teaches art classes through the Sheep Creek Arts Council in Turner Valley.

“When I paint I’m happy and I want that to come through in my paintings,” she said. “I paint for fun. It’s part of my self-fulfilment.”

To learn more about Carrier or to view her work go to


Tammy Rollie

About the Author: Tammy Rollie

Tammy Rollie is a staff reporter at and the Western Wheel newspaper, focusing on Wheel's West, local arts and culture and entertainment. For story tips contact
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