BY SARAH LINDSTEIN

Fast friends and fellow artists Marie-Hélène Comeau and Virginie Hamel have found the secret to success: a great partnership. Together they share their art with the world at the Fireweed Community Market, painting, selling and socializing with fellow artists.

“Good friends collaborate. To get ahead in the art world here, you must be open to sharing,” says Virginie Hamel.

It is a very special friendship that has allowed Comeau and Hamel to share a space at Fireweed. Among many friends in the Yukon, the two artists found each other and discovered the laid-back appeal of a partnership while showing their artwork.

“We gain a lot of positive energy from the market. By the virtue of living in this community, you have a large network of friends and the chance to do a show with just one friend is very precious,” says Comeau.

Their art is very different, and the two artists gain inspiration from diverse ideas.

Hamel’s art is ephemeral and eclectic. A former theatre set designer from the small town of Beaumont, outside of Québec City, she draws on her former aspirations in her painting. As always, her style is constantly evolving. The prints she currently has show women in 1800s dresses, hats and bustles with dark colours and intense detail.

In contrast, Comeau’s art, at this moment, is big and splashy, large brushstrokes with pastel colours. Her art shows a marked difference from Hamel’s, but is always changing as well.

Developing as an artist is an important part of life. The friends see painting together at the Fireweed Community Market as a bonding exercise and feel that it has added to the quality of their work.

“There’s no pressure, like at an art show. We are free to experiment, discuss techniques and share freely.

“The wall between the public and the artist is dissolved and we are more open and accessible,” says Hamel.

As well, community is important to the artists. Without the Yukon and the Fireweed Community Market, support and sharing might not happen. Comeau emphasized that, in a smaller city, everything is more accessible, including the art scene, something that’s a bit of a best-kept secret.

“In Montréal, everything is a bit tougher. Art professors don’t always tell students to go to smaller markets first, build their art and then take it on the big stage.”

Comeau and Hamel will be manning their booth at the Fireweed Community Market on Thursdays, and say they are taking it “week by week” to see how the public response is. They say sales aren’t the main reason for showing their art; it’s the exposure that is important.

They are making sure their art is seen and appreciated by the public. Who knows, maybe next time someone sees it, they will remember the two partner artists.

The Fireweed Community Market runs Thursdays until September 17 from 3 to 8 p.m. in Shipyards Park.