Beam-ing with Joy: Lyndsay Taibossigai Creates New Art and a New Life after Loss
Picking up a paint brush is just like picking up a magic wand. That’s what Lyndsay Taibossigai shares with students in her art classes, and it reflects the way painting lets you take pictures from your mind and translate them onto paper. Taibossigai is from Manitoulin Island and works for Beam Paints, an Indigenous watercolor paint company founded by Anong Beam.
Beam experimented to create eco friendly and non toxic watercolor paints, launching the business six years ago out of her adapted garage. The product was paint in the form of small stones, created from a technique she learned from her father. Growing up, Beam learned to make paint from resources of the land. Her own parents faced early onset illnesses she believes were from toxic art supplies and that partly inspired the traditional knowledge sharing across generations that became her business.
Taibossigai paints for her own creative pleasure and offers online and in person tutorials using the Beam products. The paints are not made from a list of chemicals that are hard to pronounce but instead from things like Manitoulin limestone, maple sap or maple syrup, and other local and non-toxic resources. Taibossigai heard about the paints through social media and was intrigued, but with no watercolour painting experience, she didn’t pursue it at first. She had no idea how they would change her life.
In a local shop, Taibossigai came across them again and the colours really inspired her. She decided to give them a try and purchased them. Creating art to help navigate the loss of her brother to suicide, the paints helped her process her grief. She built a friendship with Beam’s founder that also helped her through her sadness.
Prior to working with Beam, Taibossigai was a youth empowerment coordinator and facilitator and before that, a project and program evaluator for girls groups all across the country. Her work allowed her to travel to the north of BC, Ontario and the northern territories. She was inspired by how much of a difference it made in the lives of young Indigenous girls to have mentorship relationships. Thinking of her own experiences and those of her sister in their teen years and the struggles on reserve around racism, poverty, alcoholism and other injustices from colonization, she knew how important it is to have a safe space for girls and young women.
Over the years she did that work, she built great relationships, but at a cost to her own mental health. While she was on leave to take care of her wellness, she had been bouncing between the homes of friends and family, taking on the role of auntie for their kids and helping out. She ended up finding Beam paints while on leave and her career trajectory changed.
Beam's founder told her about the virtual painting opportunities that would be coming up through Connected North and at first, she was intimidated. She felt she was too new a painter to be teaching, but Beam coached her along until she found her footing in the world of art instruction. Together, they developed sessions for Connected North and students get to learn to paint from a calm instructor in a fun way.
As part of her own artistic goals, Taibossigai is working towards illustrating children’s stories with Beam Paints so people can learn about the products at the same time. She has a strong passion for the Ojibwe language and Beam’s paints are named in both English and Ojibwe. She is trying to achieve fluency so books she helps create can be multilingual. She made a book in elementary school about colours, shapes and numbers and she’s wanting to put that together now that she’s older. Supportive friends have encouraged her to keep working on her painting and publishing goals.
Outside of the virtual classes, Taibossigai assists with the management of Beam’s social media. With summers off from classes, she focuses on her painting and beadwork. She’s selling her beadwork to support her sister’s travel as she presents on mental health and preventative wellness for infants. As part of her methodology in sharing how people can support each other, her sister includes creative expression using Beam’s paints.
Painting is something that Lyndsay Taibossigai encourages people to try as a fun art activity while travelling. You can travel with the paint stones and a travel brush and if you add water and some paper, you can create something special while on the road. Her advice to new painters is to not be intimidated like she was at first. She recommends reaching out to your community if you don’t have watercolour painting experience and just spending time learning together. Sparkle colours are an exciting place she suggests to start, made with ethically sourced mica. The glitter takes painting and being creative to a whole new level… and all you need is a paint brush to have a “magic wand”.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.