Artist Profiles - Carol-Ann Touchette

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the August 31, 2005 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Multi-talented artist agent for change

by Catherine Joyce

Carol-Ann Touchette - painter, musician, writer, linguist, pedagogue, and co-owner of Chelsea's Galerie Du Parc - believes the artist is an agent for change. "Creativity is not innate. It can be taught."

Born in Toronto in 1964, Carol-Ann's life bears eloquent testimony to this philosophy. She began her studies in piano, becoming an organist from the age of 13 to 23 for the Thorncliffe Park Catholic Church and the Thorncliffe United Church - in charge of two adult choirs and one children's choir. She went on to take her first degree at Trinity College, University of Toronto, in French Language and Literature, where she pursued her music at the Royal Conservatory on the side. Three years in France teaching English at the Universite de Franche-Comte also produced a Masters in English Literature, specializing in Canadian author, Margaret Laurence.

Artist Profiles
Carol-Anne Touchette.'At night I paint until my hands are numb.' CJ photo.

Home to Canada, she earned her Bachelor of Education at Ottawa University during the day and her Certificate of Education at the Universite de Quebec in Hull in the evening - after which she began teaching English as a Second Language at Grand Riviere Secondary in Aylmer. Five years later she bacame a Consultant in ESL and the arts programming, a two-year experience that led her to travelling throughout the province, teaching and writing on Quebec's new educational reform initiatives on competency-based learning.

"It is natural for me to go from one discipline to another without questioning. I learn by doing. I don't hesitate. When I got into painting five years ago I picked up my paintbrush and just began. It is very freeing - a way of expressing the uniqueness of one's identity. Each discipline - like a language - changes the way you think, colours your thought."

A recurring dream from childhood expresses the challenge of such creativity. "I kept dreaming of this huge stream of energy that I was struggling to put through the eye of a needle." Prophetic, biblical in its simplicity - the dream would lead to a whirlwind of achievement that is only now slowing down.

"I was an only child. My father, an electronics engineer with NASA, left early. Alone with my mother, an ESL teacher in Toronto, I was encouraged to succeed. "Whatever I tried I had to give it my all. I felt a certain pressure to perform and yet there were so many things I wanted to do in life - it still feels like there's never enough time or energy!"

Carol-Ann's paintings rereflect this tremendous life force - a world in explosive motion, strong in colour, rich in texture. Flowers dance, pianos - nostalgic emblems of an old love - emerge from the wings, sheet music floats above the vibrating keys with pieces entitled 'Scherzo', 'Sonata' or 'Concerto'. "You can play them. They are my own compositions. The harmonies work out."

The struggle of the creative spirit to be released, expressed - the tension and joy are palpable. "At night I paint until my hands are numb, the way I used to play the piano. You reach, you develop, you share your talents with the world. Whether you paint, play music, write or teach, you can become an agent for change."

(Carol-Ann Touchette's next show, 'Blossoming', runs from August 31-September 18 at Galerie Du Parc, 827-3888)

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