Valerie Hounsell


For Valerie Hounsell, painting is a lifelong obsession
COVID-19 has proven to be a time to slow down and focus on a new direction
There is a stillness to Valerie Spence Hounsell’s paintings. The kind of stillness you feel when you are floating softly in a kayak or canoe, easing along the water admiring the shore, the trees or maybe the sky. And that is, of course, exactly how and where she gets her inspiration.

“Kayaking and painting. They really combine my two absolute favourite things,” says Hounsell. “You know, the stress relief you get on the water, you’re floating, and the buoyancy and fresh air. All the sounds and the sunlight. Oh, it’s just amazing. And I’m taking pictures. And then I go back to the studio and I process all my photos and pick the ones that I think are strong enough to be a painting and to convey the feelings I had out on the water.”

For Hounsell, painting has been a lifelong obsession. The daughter, niece and sister of women who loved to paint, she says there was never really any chance that she would not pick up a brush. But life being what it is, painting was for a very long time, only a hobby.

Valerie, right, and her daughter Carina in Jasper, Alberta | Photo submitted
“I feel like I’ve been on this path for most of my life, headed in this direction. I mean, I had a career and I had a large family, so I wasn’t painting a lot until, well, until I became an empty nester. And now I have time. But I’ve always wanted to paint and be an artist and do that for a living, and now, finally, I am able to do it.”

Her timing, it turns out, was not great. She held her first ever show at her house in 2019. Hounsell lives just outside Lyndhurst, and she timed the show to coincide with the always well-attended Lyndhurst Turkey Fair. It went very well. She sold a couple of paintings, the word started to get out, and things were looking up for the new career of Valerie Spence Hounsell, professional artist. And then COVID-19 hit.

The Lyndhurst Turkey Fair was cancelled for the following year. The show she had coming up in her old hometown of Belleville was cancelled. There was no way of having people into her home studio. Like many people, Hounsell had to rethink how to make things work. A website, a Facebook page. There are only so many ways you can get people to look at what you’re selling when nobody can leave the house. The truth is, though, the way she looks at it, it hasn’t really been that bad for Hounsell.

“COVID has almost kind of been a good thing for me. And don’t get me wrong. I know it isn’t a good thing for anybody. But it has in some ways helped me because of how introverted I am. It has allowed me to sort of slow down and take baby steps and really figure out what direction I want to take instead of maybe just putting myself out there in ways that I might not have enjoyed as much.”

Baby steps. For a woman whose life is focused on capturing calm and beauty, that may just be the ticket. Hounsell plans to get through COVID as best she can. In the meantime, there is kayaking to do, there are pictures to take, and there is much painting to be done.

“With those photos, you know when you’ve taken it, you know, the light is right, and you know, it’s going to be fabulous. You get it back. And then, of course, it is fabulous. As soon as I put the paint fresh onto the canvas, it’s like – it’s magical. And my brain is working the whole time. You know, how am I gonna do this, and how am I gonna do that? And there are paintings where the paint just flows off the brush and things just happen on the canvas. It’s like I’m not even in control anymore.”

Enjoy Valerie's art online or in the gallery. You can see her available works here.