Celebrating Difference and Diversity in Our Creative Community

October 8, 2021

Our creative community thrives on difference and diversity, and in honour of October 10th’s World Inclusion Day, we’re delighted to have caught up with three exceptional artists, who we will hopefully be working more with in the coming months. 


Michael Niculeac

A pandemic pastime for Michael Niculeac very quickly revealed an incredible talent. Working out of Kelowna, he creates colourful, textured abstract paintings, often made bespoke for a wide range of clients. 


Art came into my life at the onset of Covid in March 2020. I started abstract art, because being a person living with muscular dystrophy, drawing an image or colouring within boundaries is a difficult task. I discovered abstract painting as it includes mixing colours to create a painting which is something I have an eye for. The process of painting from start to finish is enjoyable, relaxing and satisfying.


It is important to include everyone in the arts whether it is shown in the actual painting or in teaching art to someone, because everyone has the ability to create or to be a part of something unique.


Being a self-taught artist with no formal schooling or teaching, I have learnt everything through researching the Internet and watching YouTube videos. One thing that I can tell aspiring artists that I wish I was told is that there is no wrong way when creating art. Every painting starts with a blank canvas and an idea so just take your idea and run with it.

Kaileen Selig

Kaileen Selig is a self-taught mouth painter living in Greater Vancouver. Employing primarily watercolour and acrylic, her evocative work explores landscape, nature and the intricacies of human form and expression.


I’ve always admired art – it was my favourite subject in school and I enjoyed creating it. However, it wasn’t until I discovered the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists that my relationship with art really changed and it became a major part of my life. Learning that there are artists who paint using only their mouth and feet due to their physical disability sparked something inside me. It had been many years since I made art with my hands as I lost too much strength from my disability, Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 2D. So, I decided to give painting with my mouth a try! The more I practiced, the more I loved it. I ended up becoming a student member of the MFPA just over a year later. I’ve now been a mouth painter for almost 4 years and can’t imagine doing anything else. Painting has become my escape from life’s difficulties and allows me to express myself in a way nothing else can. I would feel lost without it.

For a long time, diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts were overlooked. It’s only more recently that these topics have come to the forefront and it’s about time! It’s incredibly important to address because anyone, anywhere, of any ability can create art.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t always been enough awareness for people to realize this. During an art show I participated in, the majority of people who came to my studio were surprised to find out that I was the artist. I’m sure they saw someone in a wheelchair and immediately assumed it couldn’t be my work. I was happy to tell them that it was, that I use my mouth to paint, and hopefully diminish any preconceived notions they may have had. As a disabled artist, I hope to do everything I can to improve awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts. I want everyone to know that they have the ability to create art, no matter what.


It’s okay to fail! I remember when I first started painting I would be so nervous to use my “good” paints and canvases because what if I messed up and wasted my supplies? The truth is, no art is a waste. There’s been many pieces I’ve made that I’m not happy with. But when I look back at them and the mistakes I made, there’s always at least one thing I learned from each piece. Those paintings taught me how to improve my future ones. So don’t let fear of failure stop you from creating!

Charlie French

Abstract artist Charlie French lives and works out of Dallas. His paintings are intuitive, expressive, and inspired by a wide variety of subjects, including his favorite foods, storms, and water. 


I am very creative. I have an amazing imagination! I have been creative my whole life. I became a professional artist in my twenties. Art was very therapeutic for me. I would paint every day to help me cope with my sadness. I decided to take some art classes. My teachers encouraged me.  They said I was talented. I said it was FUN to be an artist! And I decided that art should be my job. I called it Art for Dollars. It is great to do what I love every day. And to make money too. I am very happy with my art. My job. I want my art to make people see my happiness.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is important in life. And art is a part of life. So it is important in art. That’s what I think.


I think it’s important too that people in the arts community see me. Not my label. But me. Charlie French. And my ART. I have something important to share on the canvas: my imagination! I think it’s very cool. It can be funny. It can be happy. It can make people smile. That is important in life. And in art.

My advice to aspiring artists is that people will help you. I was nervous. It is hard for me to talk. To make friends. Because I am quiet, people ignore me. They think I don’t listen. But I do. And there are artists who don’t ignore me. They listen to me. They help me. My advice is to reach out to other artists: we are good people!!!