An artist from Okotoks has recently sold several pieces of her artwork to Google.

Artist Laura Payne says that her artwork caught the eye of an art consultant with Google while they were shopping around for new pieces.

"I wasn't very involved in the process, honestly. That was all, sort of, managed by my Montreal gallery," explains Payne. "So, Google, they have offices all over the world, and I think they were opening an office in Montreal. And that's when they had somebody who was working as an art consultant to kind of look around."

According to Payne, it was a very long process.

"It was a very long, drawn-out process. Which I have experienced before. You know, a lot of... 'Can you hold this for three months?' and it's like 'Okay...they are good for it, right?' And fortunately, they [Google] were," says Payne.

Payne adds that there were a lot of requirements around posting about the sale on social media.

"It was like, 'You are not allowed to post about this acquisition, without our approval,'" explains Payne. She adds that they asked for mockups of how it would appear on her website and social media accounts. "And then it still took, like, two weeks for them to approve it. It's very, very controlled because they had to hire a photographer to document the space. Because they don't want too many photos of their office space out there, I guess."

So, a few photos that Payne isn't even positive where in the Google office her artwork has been hung.

"It looks like it might be by an elevator, or in a hallway, I'm not sure," Payne adds.

Originally from Caledonia, Ontario, Payne says that she has always been artistic. 

"It's just something I always knew was going to be a big part of my life. I'm fortunate to have very supportive parents, like, they always were very supportive of my pursuit of the arts," Payne says. She explains that they always brought her to art galleries, museums, and would help figure out complementary careers, such as working at an art gallery or being an art teacher."

After considering becoming a High School art teacher, she realized that wouldn't be a good fit. So, she went to Western University and received her BFA. From there, Payne went to Baltimore to get her MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

She attended the Mount Royal School of Art at MICA, which is a multidisciplinary MFA. 

"That was great because I felt like that looseness gave me the freedom to, not only work across mediums, but to completely change my style," Payne explains. She started out doing portraits and animations.  "A few weeks into my second year, I started doing these secret little line drawings. I was doing, kind of, photo-realistic portrait painting. And I was playing with ways to make them more than just a painting of a portrait."

So, she started doing Anaglyph style 3-D portraits.

But instead of the piece being two different perspectives (think of those silly red and cyan glasses that make movies come alive), she would make them two different images that would merge. Such as an image of a lady crying and an image of a lady laughing.

"And then I started painting these lines over top of my portraits," Payne says. From there she began to experiment with colour and shapes.

After her MFA, she moved to Saskatoon to reconnect with her husband, who moved there to begin grad school. The Land of the Living Skies inspired her to explore different colour gradients, which led her to creating shaped paintings. 

After being inspired by the way the light hit buildings in downtown Saskatoon, Payne started changing the shapes of her canvases.

Originally, she was trying to create a 3-D illusion, just using different colour gradients. She eventually realized it would be easier to create the shape out of the canvas first.

While in Saskatoon, she began selling her artwork at the gallery she was working at. But, after a seven-year stint at the gallery, the owner of the gallery passed away suddenly.

After the gallery closed, Payne and her husband moved to Okotoks in 2021, to be closer to his family. Payne now works part-time at the Okotoks Art Gallery.

Payne creates art in a few different mediums. 

"The show I had at the beginning of this year, at the Okotoks Art Gallery, was an electronic media-based exhibition," Payne says. That involved projections and a special type of light boxes that she created. 

Light Box created by artist Laura PayneLightbox created by artist Laura Payne

The other side of her art practice is her painting practice. She describes her painting as Geometric Abstraction.

"They are shaped paintings that sort of simulate a 3-dimensional effect, though they are painted flat. And they also have some elements of glitter in them to add some movement and life to them," describes Payne. 

She designs the shape in Photoshop and then gets a local company to use a CNC router to cut out the desired shapes. From there she sands and paints the shapes. 

Her artwork is on display at the Slate Gallery in Regina and the Gallerie Robertson Ares in Montreal. She also has her artwork exhibited in a group exhibition at the Soft Times Gallery in San Fransisco until December 9.

For more information about upcoming shows or to explore her artwork, check out her webpage.

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