Local artist has finished 60-metre backyard mural

November 18, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Victoria Botelho

Victoria Botelho

By Victoria Botelho

Dagmar Pinney is a budding artist with a heart as big as her backyard mural. In the late 1990’s, Ms. Pinney enrolled in a local arts program and continues to take programs and courses in art to develop a style of her own.

A long-time resident of Orangeville, she is currently an active member of the Dufferin Arts Council but hasn’t always been involved with art as heavily as she is now. Ms. Pinney is a retired special needs educator, having spent 25 years at St. Andrew Elementary in Orangeville and two years at St. Cornelius Elementary in Caledon.

“I miss teaching. I miss being with the special needs kids. That was part of my life. Teaching kids art fills that need for me to turn on that light bulb,” she confesses.

When asked about her view on teaching art, Ms. Pinney said, “Painting is one of the greatest learning experiences which you can have”.

She usually spends her downtime with her two dogs, her husband and their adopted daughter, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was adopted when she was only two weeks old.

By following in the footsteps of Ms. Pinney, Elizabeth was encouraged to embrace her inner artist since she was old enough to hold a paintbrush.

Since then, Elizabeth has always been able to express her creativity whether it be through food colouring in her vanilla pudding as a cute little baby or in her panel in the mural as a beautiful young girl.

Ms. Pinney has spent the past three years creating a breath-taking 60-metre-long mural on her backyard fence. The mural incorporates other paintings and nature aspects that she enjoys, along with bright and vibrant colours that she adores.

Inspirations sprouted when she began travelling in St. Maarten on the southern part of the Caribbean island and found a beautiful picture from the south of France.

“The theme is mostly my paintings that I love and the things I love in nature,” she explains.

That influence is evident throughout the mural. The whole idea began as just a little project to increase privacy in her backyard. She expresses her love for birch trees in the mural and the mountains were incorporated from her visit to the Rocky Mountains.

“I paint every surface I can find – I’ll paint anything,” Ms. Pinney said in response to why she painted a mural on her backyard fence.

She developed her love for art at the age of 12. For two years, she took classes that increased her art skills, but stopped at the age of 14 after the death of her father, and following a move. Later on, Ms. Pinney wanted to do a pen and ink of her own house, but wasn’t sure how, so she took a perspective course.

The learning of ink and water resulted in her love for watercolours and she “took course after course after course of watercolour.”

She painted like crazy from 2000 to 2006, but took a break when she adopted Elizabeth. Ever since Elizabeth was brought home, she has always been quite the artist. Being encouraged everyday to paint from the minute she was able to hold a paintbrush helped in the developing of Elizabeth’s love of art.

Elizabeth always loved the feeling of a paintbrush smoothly painting along a canvas, and what better way to embrace this love than to help with the mural. After finally receiving her own panel to paint, Elizabeth felt her own calling into the arts.

“I started to get into art and I felt like that is what I wanted to do”.

With her own section in the mural, Elizabeth relished in the time she could spend with her mother.

“I paint with her to give her some company,” said Elizabeth.

As they paint together, Dagmar still uses her educator skills and helps Elizabeth when needed.
Art means different things to different peo- ple. To Ms. Pinney, it means passion and happiness. Her artwork reflects the mood she’s in; when she is happy, the paintings are more freely done, but when she is upset, the art is more precise and tense. Art is a way of relaxation that allows her to lose herself.

“I can be troubled about something and if I’m painting, I can lose myself,” she said. “I don’t use it to escape, I use it to quiet my mind because my mind is always busy.”

This is the one phrase she used to describe the impact art has on her. In the same way, working at the schools brought the same feelings to her before she retired.

“I worked 110 percent for them,” she explained regarding her work with the special needs students.

She gave 110% for them, just like she gives 110% in her artwork.

When asked about visitors’ opinions on the mural, Ms. Pinney said that they help change her perspective on her own work.

“I take it for granted now,” she explained, “But when people come over, I look at it in different light.”

Having experienced this mural, you cannot help but feel connected to it. Certain aspects in the mural might allow viewers to feel connected through personal experiences, both good and bad. Artwork is created out of emotion in order to allow those who view it to feel something real.

As an artist, one of the greatest parts of creating is the opportunity to share it with others.

“There has just been so many people that know I’ve got this and I just want to share [it],” explained Ms. Pinney.

Her paintings are not the only impactful thing that she has done. Although retired now, Ms. Pinney has influenced many students in positive ways. Going from teaching around many to painting around very few, it is quite the dramatic change that some many not be able to handle, but as her favourite saying goes, “There is no such thing as can’t”.

As she continues to teach art, she always finds new ways to ‘turn on that light bulb’ for the kids.

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