The Natural Way: Native Artist Peter Bighetty
For native artist Peter Bighetty, art begins with a memory. Hailing from Nelson House, Manitoba, Bighetty’s family is originally from Pukatawagan Cree Nation.
“Growing up, I was always fishing, trapping, and hunting, out and about in the wilderness. That’s where I get the ideas for most of my paintings,” Bighetty explains. “In the reservation, you’re surrounded by nature all the time. For me, nature represents my memories of the past. Bringing those memories onto canvas is something I really enjoy.”
In high school in Winnipeg, Bighetty began to experiment with painting and drawing, building upon his skills throughout his teenage years.
“When I first started painting on canvas, it was a completely new experience; I had never done anything like that before. It was a chance to try out something new and see if I had a knack for it. I got great feedback straight away,” he recalls.
Bighetty’s unique work features paintings of the Canadian landscape within the silhouettes of wildlife. The stunning use of bold colours perfectly complements his designs. “I gravitate towards red, orange, and yellow tones because they remind me of the sunset.”
When describing his artistic process, Bighetty says he uses freestyle with some pre-planning. “I try not to think too much and just go with it. I plan what kind of silhouette I’m going to work with, as well as the general colour range, but after that, it’s more of a freestyle flow,” he says.
“I don’t know exactly how to describe my own work. People tell me it’s contemporary and abstract. For me, it’s more about playing around with the colours and seeing an idea come to life.”
It is important for Bighetty to represent what it means to be a native artist in a positive way, and he aims to utilize his artistic success as a way to encourage others.
“Being a native artist is about showing my kids that they can do something different with their lives and pursue something that interests them. Just work hard at whatever it is you choose to do.”
Bighetty is adapting more advanced techniques to take his work to the next level. “This year, I’m going to be doing something new: painting with oils. I’m also learning how to create a 3-D appearance on canvas, which is a completely different style from my other work. I’ve wanted to do it for many years now, but this year I’m going to get it done.”
With Bighetty’s natural talent and dedication to supporting himself through work he is passionate about, this self-taught artist is bound for continued success.
Bighetty is an artist with Kitigan, a one-of-a-kind online Aboriginal art business that sells authentic and high-quality handmade Aboriginal goods. For more information and to view Bighetty's work, please visit kitigan.com.
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I have. A Peter bighetty painting that I would like to know if it’s worth anything, but I don’t intend to sell it.