Santa's Little Workshop

Cloverdale’s Santa house sparks artist’s imagination

Gabrielle Greig's cozy painting of a snowed-in local landmark earns nod from Surrey Arts Council.

A cozy winter scene painted by a local artist has won second place in this year’s Surrey Arts Council’s annual Christmas card and verse competition.

Gabrielle Greig’s charming portrait of a snug, red-roofed cabin in the snowy woods was inspired by a real building in Cloverdale – Santa’s Workshop at Clover Square Village, a hive of activity in the lead-up to Christmas, as children wait for their chance to meet the Jolly Old Elf.

“There is just something whimsical about that little house,” she says. “I love houses, and their stories.”

The multifaceted artist is also a professional face painter and balloon artist.

“I have a split personality,” she confesses, explaining she’s a member of a clown troupe. Greig has created two clown personas: The electric blue-haired face painter, Mrs. Picasso, and Balloonia the clown, who sports a neon-pink fuchsia hairdo.

Both have made appearances in Cloverdale at various community events, from the annual Blueberry festival to Surrey’s Doors Open, which expanded to Cloverdale in 2014.

“It’s so rewarding – that moment when you hold that mirror up to that child’s face and they just go, ‘Oh, wow!’”

GabrielleGreig Vienna Rooftops

She started her Santa’s workshop painting last year, hoping to enter the Surrey Arts Council contest, but she put the project on the back burner; she wasn’t happy with the way the trees looked.

“This year, I thought, ‘Well, why not finish it?’” She changed the trees, and transformed the painting into a snowy, winter scene – complete with smoke curling out of the chimney – before submitting it.

It’s a location she knows well.

“I always liked that little house,” she says, recalling memories of setting up her colour palette and painting the faces of countless eager children. “I have sat in there many times.”

Formally trained in oils in her native Austria, where Greig grew up in a town near Vienna, she’s lived in Canada for 25 years. These days, she prefers working in acrylics and mixed media.

[Vienna Rooftops, by Gabrielle Greig.]

She turned to clowning more recently. It’s a job that takes her to everything from community festivals and schools to openings, fairs, company picnics and Christmas parties – from Cloverdale to as far away as 100 Mile House.

As a painter, she’s drawn to landscapes but also creates abstracts. “Monet is one of my biggest influences,” she says. House portraits are another favourite subject.

Her artist’s antennae are always buzzing with inspiration for her next creative subject.

“I can’t go anywhere without looking at things that I could possibly transform into something else,” she says.

The winners of the Christmas card and verse competition are published in this month’s Spotlight on the Arts, the Surrey Arts Council’s newsletter.

The entrants were on view at the Newton Cultural Centre Gallery until Dec. 15.

Greig’s other work is currently on view at Sunflower Cafe in Crescent Beach, where she has a solo exhibition running until the end of the month.

This weekend (Dec. 20-21), she’s at Royal City Centre in New Westminster, where she’ll be face painting kids waiting to see Santa Claus.

Santa’s Little Workshop is available as a Christmas card. Contact Greig via her website at www.MrsPicasso.com.

Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook. View our print edition online.

Just Posted

White Rock couple to donate blood 325th time, collectively

Anne Friendly will make her 175th donation, while her husband Kevin Klop will donate his 150th time

South Surrey mothers to launch CBD-infused water product

Three friends say benefits may include anxiety relief, pain management

4-year-old child injured in Surrey after falling out window

Child fell out of third-storey window, expected to fully recover

City of White Rock hosts official pier reopening

Event included ribbon-cutting, speeches, live music

Surrey school district to allow students to miss class for global climate strike

Students must be excused from school by parents; will be able to make up missed work without penalty

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

Over 200 Hotel Georgia hospitality workers join ‘open-ended strike’

Unionized workers at Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Harbourfront have also walked out

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

Hiker rescued after spending night on Crown Mountain

North Shore Rescue spotted the woman by helicopter over Hanes Valley

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Vancouver Giants complete weekend sweep of Cougars

Back-to-back road trip victories for Langley-based team

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Most Read