• Welcome to Mango Smile Studio



Finger Painting Without the Paint

Wendy Picken is an artist and author, born in Manitoba. She gives credit to her first art teacher, the late Steve Repa, and the wonderful art programs in the ’70s offered at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Wendy moved to the west coast and settled in Sidney, B.C. in 1983. She studied art full time at the University of Victoria from 1985-89 with Pat Martin Bates, Martin Bates, Gwen Currie, Glen Howarth, Don Harvey, Barry Szekely and Victor Arcega. Out of her work at UVic she developed her technique of “finger painting without the paint.”

“While studying art at university, all my oil paintings looked like mud. It helped being stubborn and from a prairie farm background. I started painting with earth and ash and clay like cave painters, using my fingers.” She loved the tactile feel. The work was too dark for most people to appreciate, but it was the beginning of her unique style.

When her children were young, Wendy found inspiration in the work of artists Emily Carr, Gathie Falk, Remedios Varo and Anne Truitt. All were beacons, shining a way to heart, home and art. ‘Art from and for the heart,’ Wendy’s work is a colourful celebration of nature’s seasons of love and life… No one can say her work is too dark now!

She creates still life drawings which come alive – vibrant flowers and fruit sharing the paper with her tiny yellow birds which seem to be caught dream flying, trusting their heart and wings. Her visual world is also inspired by poetry, particularly Japanese poets.

This past decade Wendy struggled with an eye condition, and focused on gardening and writing. She published her first children’s book for grandparents: Gramma’s Pearl Soup and Grampa’s Mango Smile. She is happily finger painting and illustrating again, and offering drawing-storytelling workshops for grandparents and their grandchildren.

Wendy is a member of the Island Illustrators Society and the Sidney Write Group (see recent article). Her work has been available from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria Art Rental since 1993 and has also been selected for the
Sooke Fine Art Show and the Sidney Fine Art show.