Artist Profile: Renée Wahl

A sassy mushroom with a glamorous human face is foreground to a flowing rainbow background Renée Wahl

Regina artist showcases her distinct style

by hannah polk, Contributor

For Renée Wahl, a 20-year-old artist from Regina, creating art has always been a natural instinct. Her earliest memory of drawing comes from when she was no more than three on a roadtrip with her family.

“I was given a notepad and a pencil,” recalls Wahl. She says that over the eight hours in the car she, “drew on every inch of paper, front and back.” Drawing, “with as much detail as a three-year-old could!”

Over the years Wahl has developed her talent and created her own unique approach to illustration. She took to Instagram to find inspiration and found many artists that caught her attention such as Dutch illustrator, Eva Stalinski.

“I would try to mimic different styles until I was eventually able to develop my own,” says Wahl.

Now, her style is distinct. Mixing realism with exaggerated lines and colours, her portraits resemble those of a caricature but with a soulful element. Some of her pieces could be described as whimsical or borderline psychedelic. In one, a sassy mushroom with a glamorous human face is foreground to a flowing rainbow background. Others feel light and wholesome, such as one depicting Wahl and her girlfriend, Jade, with their arms outstretched. Where the two hands touch there are tiny hearts fluttering around.

She shares her work on her instagram page (@reneewahlart) where she also takes commissions from friends and fans of her art. Her prices range from $10 for a simple tattoo design, and up to $100 for a personalized portrait of you next to your favourite celebrity.

While scrolling through the depths of her Instagram page, there is a clear time when she transitioned from paper drawings to digital illustrations in late 2019. Wahl says she made the switch simply due to costs.

“Art supplies [are] expensive,” says Wahl, “I would rather spend one flat rate for unlimited art making than have to spend money on each individual piece.” The cost of art supplies is a common reason why artists stop creating, but for Wahl, she did what she does best – she got creative. She now uses an online platform called Procreate which allows her to continue drawing her portraits from any electronic device. Wahl is also a passionate advocate and member of the LGBTQ+ community. This part of herself has inspired a lot of her work, she says.

“When I was coming to terms with my sexuality I definitely used art as a means of escape,” says Wahl reflecting on her journey as a teenager. She goes on to say that around that time her emotions were reflected in her work. A lot of her drawings were, “very dark and [felt] very disconnected,” she comments, “now, I feel like my art is much brighter.”

In the future, Wahl hopes to explore other mediums of art – something that the pandemic has given her plenty of time to do. Clay, textiles, and jewelry are all forms that Wahl has been experimenting with.

“Looking at things more long term, I would like to be able to support myself full-time through my art,” says Wahl. Nevertheless, she is thankful for the opportunities that art has given her.

“Whenever I create a piece of art I’m always hoping that someone can feel a sense of connection with it,” whether it’s because they simply liked the colours or because they had an emotional response to it. “I’m always looking to connect with people,” she says.

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