Celia is always looking for a challenge.
A talented painter, Celia Chaikin has a love for all art. She’s tried her hand at everything from upright weaving to soft sculpting, and has even considered jewellery classes.
“I work mostly with colours, since I was a child, I always wanted colourful things — colourful clothes and colourful beads,” Celia said. “I always loved art. I always wanted to be an artist.
Celia’s art is often large in scale, and wildly colourful. She likes to use different mediums, and often uses tissue paper to give her paintings texture. Her favourite artist is Matisse. “I like to paint in colours, I like abstracts. I just put it down and I match colours,” she said.
“It was pretty inspirational to see her artwork and the different mediums she used,” said Diane Toth, lifestyle consultant at Peninsula Retirement Residence in Surrey.
When Celia, who is 86, moved into Peninsula last December, she and Diane spoke about her love of art. Diane asked Celia if she’d like to have a small art show, to show off her works, and Celia said yes.
The art show, which happened in April at Peninsula, was a huge success, with residents and staff stopping in to enjoy Celia’s work. Someone even bought one of Celia’s more vibrant paintings.
“The woman who bought it said she liked the picture because Celia used such bright colours,” Diane said.
Celia’s sold a few paintings over the years, and been part of a couple art shows, but says she was never very good at promoting her art. “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t do it for the money. I do it for myself,” she said.
As a young woman, Celia said she was too preoccupied with a posting in the Israeli Army as a look out to go to art school, though she would have liked to. In 1950, at the age of 20, Celia moved to Canada. Her early days in Canada were spent in Montreal, where she met her husband and worked for Air Canada. “I was the worst secretary alive,” she said with a laugh. She had three children, and after 18 years in Montreal she moved to Toronto. Twenty-four years later she moved to Vancouver.
On top of crossing the country, Celia’s taken trips all over the world, and speaks three languages: German, Hebrew and English. “And I understand a little bit of French — I can get by,” she said.
Although Celia didn’t have a chance to go to art school when she was younger, she has made up for it. She’s taken several art courses at the Ontario College of Art and done many art workshops. She has an assortment of books, which she uses for inspiration.
“That’s one thing that I always grab with me. Some of them can’t be replaced,” she said.
Her books have helped her through hard times, including the recent passing of her husband.
“It takes time to get passed the grief, but I am getting there. I’ll be okay,” Celia said. “I’ll look in my books and I’ll find inspiration there again.”
Now, her suite at Peninsula is covered in art. “It’s just all over my walls. Upstairs and downstairs and sideways, just surrounded by it,” she said. “And I love music, I play it all the time, and that inspires me as well. Mostly classical music, sometimes jazz.”
“I just love to get inspiration and exchange ideas,” she said. “I always believed in sharing my art with others, and when you do that you’ll learn from them. Some artists don’t like to share any of their, quote-un-quote, ‘Secrets,’ I don’t feel this way. I feel that we should all share.”
“Her paintings, her work, is always full of life. It makes me feel like… I feel joy when I look at it,” Diane said.
“That’s what I want. If it gives people joy, that’s all I need. Then I am happy,” Celia replied.