- Story by Natalie Bruckner Photography by Nina Dombowsky
In a world awash with colours, where brushstrokes dance upon the canvas of life, Nikki Litowski, a renowned abstract and landscape artist from Kelowna, emerges as someone unafraid to express her true essence and openly share her emotions through her captivating artwork. With every brushstroke she leaves an indelible mark on the canvas, extending an invitation to rejoice in the inherent beauty that resides within us and the natural world.
Nikki’s artistic journey has been a testament to her unwavering commitment to self-expression. Born in the Lower Mainland and raised in Vernon, she was a shy and quiet student, but during high school found a way to truly express herself through art. A pivotal moment came when, in Grade 10, she was asked to write a poem for an English class assignment, and she adorned the white space around her poem with a sketch depicting a seed’s metamorphosis into a blossoming flower.
Her teacher’s encouraging words, “Whatever this is inside of you, keep doing it,” ignited her passion for art.
Encouragement struck again during a school trip to Asia. As she was sketching a monkey from a magazine, a flight attendant leaned over and said, “You have an incredible gift, never give that up.” These affirmations from strangers bolstered Nikki’s confidence and belief in her artistic abilities.
Although she briefly attended art school, she found the experience somewhat stifling and incompatible with her personality. It wasn’t until years later that she began truly exploring her artistic abilities.
“I remember my first acrylic painting; it was of a section of bamboo, and I went large scale. I realized I wasn’t afraid to go big with my art. I loved capturing a snapshot of nature, rather than the grand panorama. For me, it became about how colours blend on a canvas.”
Throughout the years, nature became her most consistent source of inspiration. She observed the interplay of light and studied the brushstrokes necessary to recreate the many shades. It comes as no surprise then that Nikki’s own backyard—adorned with a cascading waterfall, the symphony of chirping birds, and the graceful wanderings of deer—has evolved into her personal sanctuary and muse.
In 2004, Nikki took the bold move to leave a well-paying job in visual merchandising and pursue her passion for art. Starting with local art shows and exhibitions, she built connections, sharing her story and selling her pieces. In 2005, an opportunity arose when she was accepted as one of the artists for Kelowna’s Art in the Park event. Displaying her art along the boardwalk, she made genuine connections and garnered a few devoted art enthusiasts. Throughout that summer, she continued to seize opportunities, and her dedication paid off when a coffee shop in Rutland offered to host an art show for her, which, incidentally, sold out.
Despite her natural shyness, Nikki found freedom in her art, often taking to the stage as an art performer among musicians, allowing the rhythm and energy of the music to inspire her.
“Painting live challenged me to work quickly and experiment with new techniques. These experiences helped me grow as an artist, expanding my repertoire,” she says.
Since establishing her business Nikki Fine Art almost two decades ago at the age of 26, Nikki has been on a relentless journey of artistic growth. Her distinctive style now resonates with a diverse audience, seamlessly switching between two genres: abstract and landscape. Primarily utilizing acrylics, she skillfully transitions between these contrasting yet complementary realms to craft visually captivating pieces.
Nikki derives immense pleasure from capturing the intricate nuances of nature—she endeavours to elicit the profound emotions associated with these moments. Employing a vivid palette, she breathes life into her canvases, enabling viewers to immerse themselves in the beauty of the natural world with her interpretation of the ocean, the land and plants.
“Many of my pieces start with a dream after spending time in nature. It evokes a colour in my soul, and I begin painting from the deepest parts of myself, because I can’t not,” she says, as we tour her home studio.
Nikki’s art has found a special place in many homes in the Okanagan. With a talent for establishing genuine connections, she goes the extra mile by personally immersing herself in her clients’ environments, accompanying them on walks and delving into their passions. It is through this unique approach that Nikki creates bespoke artworks that truly resonate with the individual. From creating delicate miniatures gracing watercolour paper and canvas to grandiose diptychs and triptychs, Nikki possesses an enchanting ability to encapsulate and immortalize those poignant moments that hold deep meaning for her clients.
While she admits the journey of an artist is filled with highs and lows, Nikki understands the importance of embracing failures and pushing yourself.
“Oh trust me, I have a closet full of art that people will never see as they are experimental, but that’s part of the learning journey,” she says.
While Nikki has built a oyal following in the Okanagan and along the West Coast, she dreams of reaching a wider international audience. She envisions having a summer space near water, where she can connect with different people and environments and inspire fresh ideas.
“All my dreams for my art business are very achievable. I would love to host a show in my own space, so art enthusiasts can experience the process firsthand.”
Nikki demonstrates unwavering dedication to refining her artistic talent, venturing beyond conventional boundaries through the exploration of diverse mediums such as felt and venturing into uncharted subjects like aerial views. With meticulous precision, her artistry adeptly captures the intricate subtleties of nature, inviting viewers to fully immerse themselves in the breathtaking symphony of profound beauty that envelops the Okanagan and our world.