Artist finds inspiration in the real world

Lilie Rutter displaying her work at North Shore Art Crawl this weekend

North Shore Art Crawl, 91 locations featuring over 280 artists, March 2 and 3. (

Lilie Rutter is no longer afraid.

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With every precise brush stroke that litters her canvas with vibrant colours, complex textures and abstract impressions, she attempts to recreate an original inspiration from the world around her, to tell a story of our collective relationship with, well, life itself. It took some bravery and soul-searching for her to realize that’s what she wanted to do.

“When I did my A-levels and went into university I didn’t know anyone who was an artist, who was actually having a decent living from their art,” Rutter tells the North Shore News. “I was too scared to go into arts and go to art school, and so I did economics and accounting and I became a financial analyst.”

As a teenager, Rutter, who grew up in France before moving to the U.K. to attend university, was passionate about painting. That burning desire to create art never really went away, even when her professional vocation was resolutely grounded in a world many might consider the antithesis of creative expression, that of high finance.

After 15 years spent in that world, and while closely maintaining her painting chops on the side, primarily as a hobby, Rutter has slowly been making the transition from the office space into the artist’s studio – or perhaps she’s finally arrived.

“Probably over the last 10 years, the idea of really becoming an artist started really working in the back of my mind,” she says.

Now a North Vancouver resident, Rutter’s work will be on display at Roll Academy in Lower Lonsdale (236 Lonsdale Ave.) this weekend as part of the annual North Shore Art Crawl.

She’ll be showing off more than 20 pieces that, through mixed media and acrylic on canvas, depict her reverence for the visual language known as abstraction. Her work may not be easy to decipher upon first glance, she insists, but she hopes that visitors will connect with the feelings her work may evoke, such as in her series on the four seasons, which appear as random splotches of colour and shape on large canvases, but whose colour palates faithfully stimulate a sense of winter’s gloomy clutches or summer’s vibrant charms.

“The piece called Spring is my favourite of the moment. There’s a hidden heart in there, not everybody sees it and spring is my favourite season, when things are coming back to life and you’re full of enthusiasm,” says Rutter.

She says she finds inspiration out in the real world, wherever she goes, and always makes sure to take a snapshot of what moves her so she can recreate it later on.

“I find inspiration everywhere. I’ll be going for a walk and suddenly the light will catch something in a particular way … and I’ll make a mental note about that,” she says. “I’m still on my journey.”

This year’s North Shore Art Crawl, running March 2-3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature more than 280 artists across 91 locations – at artists’ studios, galleries and more – from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove.

The free art crawl, which was founded in 2011 by local artists Norman Vipond and Sandrine Pelissier, is intended to feature North Shore artists in their own spaces and venues, presenting them and their work in a manner that encourages intimate connection with the community, said Michelle Richard, communications and grants manager at North Van Arts.

“It’s a great variety, there are some people who have been professional working artists, they make their living at this and they’ve done it for 30 years,” says Richard, adding there are other participating artists who have other careers entirely or, like Rutter, are still making the transition into fully fledged artistic professions. 

Richard recommends visiting the art crawl website at and browsing through the individual artist profiles and seeing where the different venues are located across the North Shore in order to plan a perfect weekend of experiencing artists’ work firsthand.

“It’s their opportunity to show the public how they do things – and that’s what I think is one of the most fun parts, is to walk into the studios and see. … You get a bit of a glimpse into their creative spirit and their creative processes,” said Richard.

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