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Joni Laberge

“Following Paint”

Artist Statement

Watercolour is a medium of letting go. In 2019 I burned out from writing a trauma memoir. In 2020 I gave up struggling and shelved the book. I started painting on a whim that quickly became a daily practice. Unlike writing, I had no ego tied up in it. It was all play, experimentation and wonder. Awash in water and colour I found the subconscious world I’d buried under intellect, anger and words. Every day I returned to swim in the vulnerable magic that had sustained me through everything. My work is both subconscious and informed by nature. Abstract figures inhabit imaginary worlds of improbable physics and chance. Natural elements are dissected and recomposed. Clouds roll and landscapes tumble. My process is to start from an object, place or idea, then follow whatever unfolds on the paper. It’s about being as much as doing. Water flows and paper absorbs. Pigments granulate, settle and lock in. Chance is as important as composition. Improvisation is how I got beyond myself. Working in this way rewired my brain from “forcing” to “allowing.” I’ve been asked about my titles, how I come up with them. I believe these are subconscious as well. Words roll around my brain like stones in the river. I know a painting is nearing completion when the title becomes clear to me. Painting gave me a new relationship with words just as much as it gave a gentler way into my story. This year of following paint is how I reclaimed sensitivity. This body of work contains the
imprints of my healing. I hope these paintings give something to you too.

Artist Bio


Joni Laberge studied mixed media and writing at Kootenay School of the Arts. She is a human rights advocate and defender of the young. She loves cats and flowers. She lives in Sparwood with her partner and children.