On this year’s cover of NorthwesTel’s 2018/19 phone directory is Gabrielle Watts’ sensational painting, Mount Lorne From Above. Watts has always been intrigued by the majesty of Mount Lorne, so she produced a landscape painting inspired by it especially for the annual NorthwesTel Directory Cover Art Competition.

Watts was also the winner of the 2011/12 NorthwesTel competition with her painting Yukon River Valley and has come to be a renowned local artist who continues to pursue and share her passion as a member of the Yukon Art Society.

A Whitehorse resident for just about 24 years now, Watts considers the Yukon home and continues to be fascinated by the beauty of its landscapes.

“There are not too many places like this, elsewhere,” she states before explaining what peaked her creativity to paint Mount Lorne from Above. “On flights in and out of the Yukon, I am always taking pictures from the air.”

On a clear winter day, in January, Watts captured this particular shot of Mount Lorne. The sun was low, she described, which gave the snow a warm, glowing colour while also forming long, dark shadows in the valleys. She took the photograph, which she used as a vision for this year’s submitted piece, in 2013, and found it fitting to recreate it in just four short days for the annual NorthwesTel competition.

Watts is a self-taught artist who took an interest in art at a young age; however, she only started to pursue it after she came to the Yukon. Never having taken a lesson, one day she decided to put paintbrush to canvas to see how she would do.

Painting landscapes is what Watts has come to enjoy most, as she looks for scenes that have something unique about them, something eye grabbing that sparks the inspiration to create.

For Watts, painting is a form of relaxation that takes her into another world. Watts feels that she is not a prolific painter, but paints only when she feels the need to do something creative. “I have a pile of pictures that I know will make good paintings … I look to those for inspiration,” she shares.

Watts believes that some people are born with the desire to create art, as it is ingrained inside them, but also believes that life experience has a huge influence as it leads people in certain directions. Throughout her life, she has had the opportunity to live in and travel to many different places around the world. Exposure to diverse cultures, along with the ability to visit art galleries and museums, further familiarized her with the world of art and has contributed to her art career.

Watts expressed how extremely excited and honoured she is to have won the NorthwesTel Directory Cover Art Competition for a second time. “I am really humbled to have been chosen again.”

Gabrielle Watts is a member of the Yukon Art Society and has participated in several collaborative art showcases over the years. In 2019, Watts, along with a group of women, is hoping to do another show to display her work. So make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for a collective art showcase featuring Gabrielle Watts, early next year.

Yukon Landscape is Poetry for the Eyes