THE JOY OF ART
Claudia Punter, AFC
Adventurous, full of enthusiasm for the unknown future, Claudia Punter’s parents left Switzerland to get married in Rome, the metropolis, taking along only their love towards each other, without belongings and no knowledge of the Italian language, but a child on the way. Punter’s father had just finished the apprenticeship as a goldsmith. The trust in the future paid off: he found a job at Bulgary, a world-renowned goldsmith atelier. Here he worked for 2 years, and his daughter could spend her two first years surrounded by Roman culture and art. Unfortunately, this all is hidden in the unconscious, Punter can not remember these times.
As a teenager and as an adult however, Rome draw her back several times and left a permanent impression.
Moved back to Switzerland, Claudia Punter got two siblings. Her dad and a colleague goldsmith opened their own atelier.
Punter’s art experience had not a happy beginning; in grade 3 the teacher in art class asked for a painting of an animal. Enthusiastically, she painted a monkey on a leafy tree, in colored pencils, and she thought it was a most beautiful piece of “art”. But the teacher looked at it and dismissed it, mentioning that she has no artistic talent. She was deeply hurt, has been made to feel foolish for believing herself talented. She was shamed in front of the whole class and she never tried to draw or paint again. The artistic side in her got dormant and was buried deep inside, for a very, very long time.
Shy and scared of the other schoolkids, she felt drawn to animals. This, however, was not easy. Living in a town apartment in Zug, Switzerland, and Mom not eager to have pets, she had to hide her beloved animals. Her first pets were a little bug and a little worm, which she smuggled in and hid in her room.
As she got older, her mother softened, and she was able to keep a bird, 2 goldfish, a mouse and a lizard.
Punter’s dad added to his fine goldsmith atelier a gallery. He exhibited mostly modern contemporary art. His daughter never understood this art. She often quarreled in friendly “fights” that this is not real art, everybody can scribble something, put blotches on a piece of paper. She did at that time not understand these abstract paintings at all. Even she was living with art, two- and three dimensional, she ignored it, turned away; however, the constant surrounding of art at home, in the atelier and on all the travels through Europe left an unforgettable impression.
Eventually in secondary school, her class had a project to incubate eggs. She asked to take home one of the hatchlings, and it grew into a rooster. Her father put his foot down when the rooster started crowing, and he gave the bird away.
In her teens she secretly asked a friend to give her a dog, so if it is a gift, Mom and Dad can not say no. They didn’t say no, but the dog had to live under the patio, he was not allowed in the house. Many long walks with him embedded the deep love for nature in Punter.
When she was twenty, her love of animals led her to leave home and she went to work on a small dairy farm milking cows. “I needed my animals and I was just too restricted at home”, said Punter. “That was the best time in my life when I was on that farm”.
Finally, she decided to go back to school and became a veterinarian.
In this time, she got engaged with her future husband. They both liked travelling and did so extensively throughout Europe and North Africa. They crossed the Sahara two times, a tremendous adventure.
After some time as an assistant veterinarian Punter opened her own veterinary clinic. It got a really busy time, especially when also two sons joined the family! After eight years the job was overtaking their lives. They had to make a change. The opportunity came to immigrate to Alberta, Canada and within 6 months the family was in a new country, with a new language, new people and lifestyle. They knew nobody, had to learn the language, and trusted in their love and capability to work. It was almost a replica of her parent’s journey. Her husband was a stone mason and they built up a successful granite business.
In the evenings, to wind down, Punter began to carve soapstone sculptures. It was not meant to be doing art, just a relaxing thing to do instead of watching TV.
14 years later her husband died of cancer. Punter had to sell the business and house and move on.
While visiting a gallery in British Columbia she met Keremeos painter Bonny Roberts. Her work made a huge impression on Punter and Bonny invited her to one of her two-day workshops. Hesitantly, since she never had a brush in her hands, she went. The first day was color theory and the second day they began to paint on a canvas. That was it. Punter loved it, she really loved it. This was in December 2013, and the passion for painting began and grew since!
Punter is inspired by nature, animals, people. Just look around, common places, anything gives her ideas. She takes photographs and makes sketches. She sees a landscape, a power pole, a rusted machinery, you name it, and she imagines an animal in or on it. She says:” I am inspired by the behavior of animals, of colors, the light.” There are endless options, reality and fantasy mingle. Memory and sketches help to keep the image alive, photographs she needs for the details represented in her paintings. First inspiration might be the landscape, or it might be the animal. And so a composition begins. The idea can start with a project or just seeing a scene that captivates her.
This led her to study with internationally well-known wildlife artists like Robert Bateman and Terry Isaac. She feels blessed that these great masters influenced her as well as many other artists around the globe and in the Okanagan Valley. And what else can be a better encouragement than the words she got in a letter from Robert Bateman: “keep on painting”!
At this time her medium of choice is acrylic. She likes oils, the colors and how they mix, but the slow drying doesn’t suit her that well. Watercolors are a medium she uses sometimes, just for the fun of it, appreciating the softness and the flow of the pigments.
Her tremendous love for all creatures, for people, animals and plants, the whole beauty of nature with all the colors, sounds, smells, tastes, shapes and expressions show in her art. She loves realism and details. Punter always gives attention that the animal is in the right environment and the right season. She tries to understand the animal; what it feels and thinks, it’s mood, what it struggles with and what makes it happy. Every single one is unique and she likes to show this individuality in her paintings and sculptures.
Punter believes in the sanctity of this world and its creatures. She is a dedicated naturalist and conservationist. Seeing the beauty in nature, appreciate, honor and respect it, is her passion. Her art is a visual message to a future where people see and respect nature.
We are intimately united with all that exists. The world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise. In her own words: “my goal is that the viewer develops through my paintings a consciousness to his immediate environment, appreciate it’s merit, takes care of it and ensures it’s conservation.”
Claudia’s artwork caught the eye of collectors in Canada, the United States and in Europe. She is represented in several galleries in British Columbia, Canada and won multiple prizes and awards.
The richness and high detail of each of her paintings clearly illustrates a dedication of a truly passionate, driven artist.
Travelling is still her passion, now going for adventures with her new husband, Tjipke, whenever time allows. Life is a voyage of discovery!
Claudia Punter has her studio in her home town in Osoyoos, BC, Canada
Widely admired and avidly collected wildlife artist Punter is represented in her own studio and in the Okanagan Art Gallery, Osoyoos.
Claudia Punter, 253 Chapman Road,
Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada, V0H 1V6 (250) 535-1956