Alumnus Patrick Biggs finds new passion that stays close to his roots
Calgary, Alta. – Two-time Olympian and nine-year member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team Patrick Biggs (Ottawa, Ont.) has been tapped to create a unique painting as part of the fundraising for Alpine Canada’s celebration of 100 years of ski racing in the country. But how did the slalom specialist go from feeling the exhilaration and emotion of ski racing’s highs and lows to translating that emotion onto canvas?
“I’ve always enjoyed art,” said Biggs from his home in the nation’s capital where he’s been working on the initial sketches for the 100th Anniversary piece this summer. “I really got into it at university when I was studying engineering and studio art. Through that process, I got more involved in drawing and eventually took some painting courses which stimulated that whole painting side in me. I started painting that summer and it’s been a big part of my life since.”
Since announcing his retirement from the Canadian Alpine Ski Team seven years ago, Biggs has built his portfolio of artwork and a client base, and toils at his newest passion from a studio space in the same building as his wife Kimberly’s agency. Browsing at some of his work at PatrickBiggsDesign.com, two very distinct styles emerge.
“A lot of artists create a very specific style and niche that they work in. I kind of created one, and I seem to have taken a completely opposite direction (with the next). I have kept both roads and have painted in those two directions,” said Biggs when describing his work.
“First and foremost, and what I’m well-known for, is sports-action painting. (It’s) very lively, flowing, active; heavy texture with a lot of energy and movement,” he said of the style that has primarily featured skiing and will be the focus for the Alpine Canada piece that will be sold at auction at the Toronto gala on Nov. 6, and available in a limited quantity of reprints online.
Pulling from his engineering background, Biggs also features pieces that explore Canadiana in a unique way. Biggs describes this second style as “more structured, analytical, and breaks things down into very clean lines and shapes. It deals with a lot of spacial elements.
“I have a lot of fun going back and forth between these two styles – if I get too stuck with one side of my brain, I move to a different style and do something completely different so I never get bored.”
Biggs’ family roots in the sport of skiing – his great-grandmother was an early member of the 100-year-old Ottawa Ski Club, his grandfather raced in the World Championships, and both his parents were part of their respective national team programs with his mom racing for Canada and his dad for Australia – are evident in his artwork. Early titles include Little Ski Tyke and Skiing with Dad alongside more recent works where former teammates’ faces and features can be picked out against the backdrop of iconic Canadian courses such as Lake Louise.
“Skiing shaped my family, and I think that really parallels with so many families across the country,” said Biggs, whose three boys – Jackson (8), Brooks (5), and Hudson (3) – have all caught the ski bug and are the ones who now initiate the requests to go skiing. “Skiing helps create strong families and great people. It means a lot to me.
“A lot of the emotion and feeling that shows through the (ski) painting comes from my background in skiing, and I think that gives me a unique ability to bring out these really unique skiing paintings. I look at angles and see if they’re right and try to get a sense of what it would feel like and to bring that out in the painting,” he said. “Art – at least in the form that I do it – is a rather long process. That patience and persistence to see things through to a final product or result, I brought that approach from ski racing.”
In addition to welcoming his three boys to the world and marrying the love of his life, Kimberly, experiences he described as being his true joy, Biggs has also worked to build the Camp Fortune Ski Club into a “vibrant, healthy club with amazing kids and 40-plus coaches that go out in the cold and rain and whatever comes along to give back and build up the next generation of skiers to fall in love with the sport. That’s my most cherished experience since (retiring from) ski racing.”