When Laurél Schmid returned to live in the Cayman Islands in 2011, the move presented a different picture from the new life she’d imagined.
Instead of taking a job as planned, Laurél began painting full-time, following up a passion and talent she’d had little time to indulge in previously.
Originally from Wisconsin, Laurél lived in Cayman from 1996 to 1999 then, after going back to the States, a work opportunity for her husband Paul saw the couple head south again for a second stint of island life.
Laurél had studied graphic design at Mount Mary College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, opting for that course when the interior design class she’d intended to take was already fully subscribed.
“The graphic design programme peaked an interest and I knew it would still allow me to use my creative skills,” she says.
Later, she went on to work as a graphic designer for several companies, and opened her own business while back in the States.
“Unfortunately, while focusing on the graphic design business there never seemed to be time to keep painting and it got put on the back burner,” says Laurél. “It wasn’t until moving back to Cayman that I could really focus on canvas art again.”
Not only has Laurél picked up her paint brush once more, but she has held her first ever exhibitions and become actively involved in Cayman’s Visual Arts Society as a board member.
She took tentative steps to show her work publicly at the annual Art@Governors exhibition in February 2013, where to her surprise, she sold four paintings.
In April, her confidence grew at a shared exhibition at Pedro St. James with Little Cayman artist Debbi Truchan and then, in July, she had a solo exhibition at Full of Beans, as well as artwork on display at the Kennedy Gallery and at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
“It is exciting, humbling, and at times nerve-wracking (to have work on display),” says Laurél. “To have one of your pieces of art noticed and enjoyed by someone is a tremendous compliment and truly humbling. I feel blessed that people enjoy my artwork.”
Although Laurél had intended to find a job upon returning to Cayman, the right opportunity has not yet arisen so she’s instead taken to painting in her kitchen, enjoying the time and freedom to let her paintbrush flow.
“The dining area (of the kitchen) provides the most natural light and views of nature,” she says. “I typically paint during the day and I work best in my own space, and more than likely with some music on.”
Working mostly in acrylic with various textures and glazes, Laurél’s work is influenced by the water, flowers, sunsets and life in Cayman.
Her work is bold and bright, with tropical colours and scenes that reflect her island surroundings, every day providing her with a different palette to work with.
“I love how different it can be from day to day,” says Laurél. “Some days there are fantastic cloud formations which can be quite dramatic when there is a storm over the sea, I get other inspiration from how the colour of the water changes throughout the day, and how the sunlight creates an effect or mood. I never get tired of painting the sea. And then there are the many colours of the tropical flowers to be inspired by. For example, the bright orange poinciana against a bright blue sky is always amazing.”
To add interest to her paintings, Laurél draws on faux finish techniques to give unusual effects to her pieces, working with plaster and tissue paper to create complementary textures.
“I would say my paintings lean more towards realistic but I love to experiment with texture to create something a bit out of the ordinary that complements the realistic element,” says Laurél.
“I am intrigued by finding a texture or background that you wouldn’t necessarily find in nature but that creates an interesting complement to the main focus of the painting.
“Perhaps the end result takes a person back to remembering something that makes them happy or brings them peace. I find the surroundings I live in, the sea air, the palm trees and sand provide peace and happiness to me. I hope I capture that emotion in my paintings.”