CULTIVATING CREATIVITY: Rachel Weagant’s happy journey into the macabre

By Lin Parkin/Quinte Arts Council

Rachel Weagant (a.k.a.; Rache, Ray or Giggles) is a 36-year-old visual artist from Napanee, who’s creating some interesting works of art using unusual media.

“I love baking and the first pie I created with the hand showing the ‘devil horns ’was just something silly I sculpted out of leftover pie dough to surprise my boyfriend on a whim. I’m always creating stuff for him and my children (Maddox, 15, and Charlotte, 14) to make them smile or laugh.”

From this she was inspired to bake more pies using portraits of horror movie characters. “My family literally ate pie every day for months and months while I tried perfecting the skill – poor them, eh,” she laughs. Weagant finds the pictures she wants to use and then paints the portraits freehand, using a food safe paint brush, vanilla extract and gel food colouring.

Her pies have received accolades from a few celebrities on Instagram, spurring her passion on even more. “Bill Moseley (I’m a huge fan of his) liked some of my work and I cried. Like full out sobbed like a 13-year-old girl at a Bieber concert.”

With a self-diagnosis of “Artist ADD,” Weagant enjoys jumping around from one medium to the next: “I see something, instantly want to try it and get hyper focused on the craft. Only to see something else inspiring and leap at it headfirst. I’ve always been that way.”

To hone her portrait skills, she inflicted a challenge on herself, coined the “20 days of serial killer portraits.” She’s also exploring painting with water-soluble graphite and dabbles in horror SFX makeup. Air dry clay sculpted paintings and tattooing are other art forms she wants to try her hand at some day.

The macabre theme flows into everyday life too. She maintains a “gothic garden” with a delightful array of beautiful black flowers. “I live in a home where the whole décor is all horror movie themed in one way or another,” she says.

When asked what draws her to the darker side of things, Weagant laughs. “That’s a question my parents and therapists have been asking for years. Kidding! I have ALWAYS and I mean always been drawn to anatomy, death, and gore. I would have to say I love the emotion behind it, and I am captivated by it being alternative.”

Weagant grew up in Roslin, with parents Jill and Dennis and her older brother Luke. “Despite what my artwork depicts I had a very great upbringing. My entire family is all very creative and artistic in many ways,” she explains. “My parents have been incredibly supportive of my art throughout the years, even though what I drew inspiration from may have concerned them at times,” she laughs. “But how thankful I am for them because I don’t think I would be creating today if it wasn’t for them cheering me on to do whatever I wanted to do – bleeding skull sketches and all!

It’s the “shock and awe” of it that she’s drawn to. “I think it’s wonderful that someone can draw or paint, let’s say, ‘something deceased ’and make it look beautiful but, at the same time, you feel disturbed by it and like you shouldn’t be looking at it. The emotional conflict the audience experiences is thrilling to me.”

Movies like House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, Tim Burton films, and her brother’s comic book creations were early inspirations into the horror genre. A grade school teacher, Ms. Preston, particularly inspired her as a kid and gave her the confidence to keep pursuing art.

A pivotal experience was attending the Arts Program at Centennial Secondary School in Belleville. “It was a fantastic program to be a part of because it allowed me to take an over abundance of arts programs throughout my teen years and exposed me to all different styles. It’s wonderful to see that the program is still running, thriving, and students are still producing some fantastic work.”

To aspiring artists, Weagant says, “Do not entertain what others suggest you focus on artistically – you do you! If you like painting animals and scenery – paint animals and scenery. If you like sketching feet – sketch feet! If you like horror movies – sketch the horror images you like. Your art is your art! Use as many mediums as you want – try them all.”

Find her on Instagram @screamandsugarpies

This article was originally published in the fall issue of Umbrella magazine, out now.