Rachelle Ymay Skilling

Rachelle Ymay Skilling is an artist and mother living in Calgary, Alberta. Rachelle graduated from ACAD in 2003. Her artwork

has been shown at the New Edward Gallery and Artpoint Gallery.

Recently her drawing, ’Podcast Bookclub’ was recently featured in the Calgary Herald as a part of the C.A.A.F ‘Petit Masterpiece’ online exhibition. Her paintings titled, ‘Breastfeeding Mother’ and ‘Winter Day Play’ have been featured in New Forum magazine

Her work can be described as ‘Narrative artwork’ illustrating experiences in her life. 

Rachelle co-hosts the podcast with her husband Eric, called Tip Tap Tip; “we are fun!”

Artist Statement

My paintings and drawings are bold, geometric personal narratives. The images are inspired by  personal experiences or depicting my emotions in relation to a personal situation. My artwork is a way for me to share my story, so the viewer can relate to some or all of the experiences depicted. Similar to a conversation but through imagery.

The main topics in my art revolve around motherhood and being a woman. In 2019, I created and exhibited a series of artwork exploring and documenting my role as a stay-at-home mother of two young boys in Calgary, a decision I came to after completing a BFA and then launching and eventually shuttering a small business (a hair salon).

Art about motherhood has been historically devalued. Themes of domestic life and the home are not frequently on display on our gallery walls. I challenge this within my art practice and believe there is a continuity between homemaking and art-making. My paintings are records of the daily moments that define my role as mother, wife, daughter and artist.

My paintings document chaos and quiet, the routine and unfamiliar, play and work, intimacy and emptiness, happiness and sorrow. In my paintings, toilets are overflowing. Parents have a moment of intertwined intimacy. A mother relaxes with a cup of tea. Two small boys play with a train set. A father naps holding his son. A mother breastfeeds her baby. My paintings always begin as quick pencil sketches in my drawing diary, moments captured on the fly.

I use vivid colour and geometric shapes that play with the tension between chaos and control, a reflection of motherhood and also art itself. I also often suffuse my paintings with a sense of humour, another element critical to parenthood, and joy. 

My medium of choice for my paintings is acrylic paint on a birch panel. My technique works well with the smooth non-textured surface of the birch panel. The paint is applied using brushes but showing minimal brush strokes. The colours are painted on, using painters tape to make straight edges and perfect lines and shapes. I prefer the birch panel so the surface can be used to cut the tape directly on the painting. The solid, smooth surface also allows the paint to dry with minimal texture.

My drawings are drawn with archival ink on illustration paper. They are stories within one image – utilizing the same geometric forms, lines and colours as my paintings. My drawings are sometimes used as a way to discover what my next painting will be. But other times they stand alone as a finished piece of artwork. My tools include a ruler, watercolour markers, pencil crayons or Artstix. 

Recently, I have increased the narrative element in my work by creating a graphic novel. This has introduced many new elements into my art practice. Formatting a story, sequencing images to tell a story and designing the page layout. The graphic novel is drawn in archival ink on illustration paper.