Catalysts for change come in many forms and the one that impacted a local artist was cancer.
A most unexpected diagnosis of breast cancer in 2017 was the jolt the now 32-year-old Kendall Lipsett needed to move toward art making, which is her true passion.
Lipsett's art is on the walls at Cafe Voltaire within Books & Co. until Aug. 15 and it features all things Game of Thrones.
Lipsett's compelling work is mostly acrylic on canvas with some watercolour pieces and the crowning glory of the artistic display is a piece depicting the three dragons featured near the end of the popular HBO television series.
She's created book covers and is presently working on illustrations for a children's book about therapy dogs, while showcasing her fantasy genre based work at Books & Co.
A cancer diagnosis for anyone brings about strong emotions.
"If you think of just cancer by itself that's terrifying," Lipsett said. "That's a scary diagnosis and it's still connected with a whole lot of fear and thoughts that it's a death sentence, right? So fair enough, it brings up a lot. It was a shock and a surprise and it's terrible to go through but it's also - if you let it - one of the best experiences for waking you up and making sure you pay attention. You have this life every day and every day this is all that you have and how lucky are we?"
Lipsett said, like most people, she got stuck in her day-to-day routine and took life for granted.
"So I have a lot of positive connections to cancer," Lipsett said. "So it was actually the big catalyst that helped me decide that I love this and I have loved doing art but I pushed it aside and I needed to bring it back because I have to feel alive in what I do and I have to enjoy everything that I can do and I love doing this."
The Game of Thrones fan art project has been a year in the making, but artistic endeavors started as a child and her interests were perhaps a little unusual.
"Things with sharp teeth, animals and nature and fantasy," Lipsett listed her favourites. "When I was five I drew a giraffe and my parents still have it - it was pretty good."
She'd always had plenty of encouragement throughout her childhood but when it came to making art for a living she moved away from it because there didn't seem to be a way to make it happen.
She didn't return to her creative ways until last year.
"An ah-ha moment came going through cancer treatment and it rekindle that - it made me decide that I have to do this - it feels so good - it's meditative and it's invigorating and I just love being able to put what's in my imagination on to paper and share it," Lipsett said. "I can't live without it and now I have to figure out how to make a living with it."
For Lipsett, creating the exhibit on the walls of Cafe Voltaire took some serious consideration before moving forward with it. There are copyright issues and guidelines for pieces which she has honoured.
"It has affected what I might do in the future," she said. "I think I might just like to do my own complete original works so I don't have to worry about that gray area."
Lipsett is hoping that fans of the genre will experience her work with joy.
"Joy for the characters, joy for the story," she said. "I would also like to generate curiosity about my own story and get people thinking that maybe anything is possible. You know, you can have a set plan for your life and things may change and they may become better. So I would encourage people to ask about me, ask me how I came to this, where I'm going from this, that kind of thing and how that might inspire them in whatever they love and bring to their lives to create their own passions."
Lipsett has two commissioned pieces she will soon be working on, one in the fantasy genre and the other one featuring nature and it's exciting.
"It's interesting when you start on a path, you begin with the thoughts 'I have no idea how to do this or where this will lead me or if it will even work' but if you can work with that and trust it anyways and keep going, it's like these things start unfolding one by one and I've been so grateful - I just can't even handle how amazing this is."
For more information about Lipsett and her artwork email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop in to Cafe Voltaire and see her work first hand.