It is with a heavy heart that I share sad news. Sidsel Naess Bradley, the founder of The Paint Spot, passed away on Thursday, January 5, 2023. She missed her 80th birthday by just a few weeks.
Gallery Exhibition for Sidsel
The Memorial Art show and celebration of life for Sidsel N Bradley, artist, and entrepreneur will be catered with wine and snacks. Donations to Harcourt house are accepted in lieu of payment for wine.
Flowers are accepted but discouraged. Rather, consider donations to Harcourt house gallery. Donations of $20 or more to the Harcourt house are eligible for a tax receipt.
Memorial Art Show — S. N. Bradley Saturday, March 11, 2023 at 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM Grow Centre Space at 10516 Whyte Avenue (basement)
I met Sidsel at the University of Alberta Fine Arts program while in my second year and she was finishing her BFA. Her sculptural forms of the human figure were truly inspiring, and her keen eye and sharp insight were an invaluable part of my arts education.
It was while completing her undergraduate that Sidsel and David Bradley started The Paint Spot back in 1985. To support professional artists, Sidsel saw the need to source the best materials. Artists deserve quality materials to produce quality work. Sidsel and David went to impressive lengths to achieve that – The Paint Spot was the first store in Canada to stock Golden acrylic paints from New York and Schmincke colours and da Vinci brushes from Germany. Sidsel and David also championed more than 50 lines of Canadian-made products from Stevenson, St Armand, Tri-Art, Al Ratz stretcher bars, and many others. They cared about who they bought from, often choosing the smaller makers over the mass producers.
I was lucky to have Sidsel as a mentor
I am truly lucky to have been mentored by Sidsel both as an artist and as a woman entrepreneur. While her product knowledge was vast, she had a unique way of encouraging artists to experiment with something new or different. Her enthusiasm for the process of art and the materials was infectious, touching those who worked with her or simply visited the store. “You should know for yourself,” is how she ended all her talks about products.
I can remember how she tested about half a dozen soft pastels before selecting the brand to stock. Most of the sticks, she shoved away in disgust, saying, “I just couldn’t…” We teased her for being an art materials snob, but she said people should trust the materials we put in our shop. She took it seriously. She is the reason our slogan is, ‘Beautiful materials inspire creativity.’
In-store exhibition space was important to Sidsel
Sidsel ensured there was always an exhibition space in the store to feature work by local artists. It was her passion, keen eye, and network of artists that allowed the space to glow with an amazing range of artworks. The Fringe Gallery was later renamed the Naess Gallery in her honour. Many of the flowers in front of our new store are the great-great-great-grandchildren from Sidsel’s Garden.
Another indelible contribution from Sidsel was the corporate colour of our store sign. Finding a house paint in the perfect intensity of red proved difficult. Most reds were too warm or too pink. Sidsel, ever practical and resourceful, noticed that her pack of Du Maurier cigarettes was the perfect colour. It was scanned for the colour match. Voila! Paint Spot Red. In the end though, she pointed out that house paint faded too quickly, so we went back to the original Stevenson Cadmium Red Medium – an expensive red, but that sign never faded.
Sidsel and David sparked creative events that build community
Sidsel and David were the spark behind the idea of The Whyte Avenue Art Walk and it was the resources of The Paint Spot that launch the fledgling festival. Several of the first murals in Old Strathcona benefited from Sidsel’s contributions. She recruited artists, sanded and primed walls, and hosted out-of-town artists in her home. Sidsel’s profile is easily recognizable on the mural by Tim Heimdal on the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre – she is the woman standing in the puddle.
In 1994, Sidsel hired me as a purchaser, and until child care was settle my two-month old son came to work with me. Years later, my son would often visit the store while I worked. Sidsel would keep Jordan busy pricing all the erasers in the warehouse. She paid him in Caran d’Ache crayons.
Succession planning is an art
Sidsel encouraged my development as a manager for the store. She had high expectations of all her staff and was known to be a tough negotiator, but her heart was generous. She helped my family get our first home by co-signing the mortgage with us. This type of support proved a clever investment. Years later, it was the equity of our little house that secured the loan to buy The Paint Spot from Sidsel and David when they were ready to sell the store.
I will never forget the lunch meeting where Sidsel suggested that I could buy the store and run it. She made me believe that I was the best one to carry on their legacy. It was scary and intimidating, but the most wonderful idea. It fit. I am forever indebted to Sidsel for her gift of foresight, trust, and support.
Sidsel, you left your mark on me and our artistic community. We will miss you.