Monday, December 18, 2017

Combining art with kiting

Sam Chilvers doing her stuff at La Boca, CabareteDividing her time as an accomplished painter as well as a pro kiter, Samantha “Sam” Chilvers has been doing really good for herself in Cabarete. The watersports capital of the Dominican Republic enables her to be self-sufficient without depending on any other source while having the possibility to train in all types of water, from flat in La Boca to choppy in Bozo Beach, and get all the inspiration needed for her art. “This is the only place that allows me to focus on kiteboarding and at the same time work full time as an artist without really having to worry about money.”


Sam Chilvers - walking through waterPassion for painting
Living with her three little dogs in a small slightly run down cottage in Kite Beach, the first thing that springs to the eye is a life-size oil painting in blue and white colors of Janis Joplin hanging just above her bed. “My dad painted that one, but our style, choice of colors and materials is so similar that no one would be able to tell the difference”.

Sam has been painting and drawing ever since she remembers, with her dad urging her on every step of the way. “For my dad, a good painting was one that was sold,” Sam explains. “One of the big things he taught me was the business aspect of it, which has enabled me to go professional and live with the money made of my art.”

Sam Chilvers - lifeWith a formal education in fine arts and having worked as a resident artist for a well-known gallery in downtown Ontario, Canada, for a couple of years Sam definitely has the skills to create beautiful paintings. She tends to work with oil paint on canvas and uses photos, usually in the form of a type of collage, for visual reference so that the final painting is a juxtaposition of all kinds of impressions. “At the end of my two year stunt as a resident artist I felt I needed new inspiration and after a road trip to Miami with a girlfriend I decided that my next location would also need to be next to the ocean,” Sam explains. “I kind of ended up in Cabarete by accident after having chosen the location randomly. Like so many others I was supposed to stay for only four months and am still here after four years.”

From low to pro
In her first four months in Cabarete she did everything possible, living all kinds of adventures and taking courses in anything available. She also took kite lessons, because it was the thing to do and is a self-confessed ‘worst-student-ever’. “I think my kite instructor at the time is absolutely shocked that I made it to the level I’m at now.”

Sam Chilvers doing her stuff at La Boca, CabareteThe first six months after the kite lessons, Sam wasn’t really into the whole kiteboarding thing. “People would knock on my door and say ‘hey, it’s windy, let’s go kiting’ and I would make up all kinds of excuses not to go.” Only after her pet dog, who she had brought with her from Canada, died, did she start riding intensively for a month. “At the end of that month I was pretty good. I was landing all kinds of tricks that I knew from when I used to snowboard in my local snow park back home; that’s when I got hooked and decided I was going to become a pro kiter.”

True to her word, she stuck to her goal and has been training hard, which paid off. In March she entered her first real pro-kite competition, the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships (previously known as the PKRA World Tour) in Morocco. “Even though it was a bit like coming into a new high school because most people already knew each other from before, competing in Morocco was a great experience,” Sam highlights. “I came to Morocco wanting to expand my experience in competing and landing my tricks and I did both.”
Sam Chilvers, La Boca, CabareteLove for the sport
“A lot of people ask me why I wanted to get into this sport at a professional level while being slightly older and knowing that I would never make any money out of it… well, the easy answer is because I love the sport and I want to progress as much as I can.” Sam, on the other hand, is very adamant about trying to avoid injury as much as possible believing strongly in warming up before each session and keeping in shape through yoga. When injured she even goes running along the beach to stay in shape despite not liking running at all.

Sam talks about some of the pros she met while she was in Morocco. “Some of those guys couldn’t even walk but still kept on riding making things worse. I definitely want to avoid that. Not being able to ride for a whole year because of an injury that hasn’t been taken care off is not an option for me.”

The art and kite combo
Sam explains that in Cabarete she can combine her passion for painting together with her love for kiting, and continue to live comfortably by selling paintings. “Since coming to Cabarete, a lot of my painting is influenced by the ocean. I have done a lot of paintings of waves, which people seem to really like and like to buy, but after having done around forty of them over the last two or three years I’ve started experimenting, going more Jackson Pollock style, applying the paint in different ways trying to get a distinct effect of the wave to take them further.

Explaining why people like buying her art, she says “I have a lot of clients that are stuck in an office all day and when they see photos of me competing in Morocco on Instagram and Facebook and I’m doing this painting while I’m competing in Morocco, then for a small price they can buy that painting. And when they buy that painting, it’s like they get to own a little piece of that experience.”

Sam Chilvers - the waveSam uses social media to post the best photos she can to document her lifestyle, experience, training and painting, and by doing so she has increased her sales, as it has allowed people to buy into her lifestyle. “Ultimately the kiting helps me create more art, and the art helps me to fund my kiting so the two fuel of each other.”

Life in Cabarete
Cabarete has been good for Samantha. “Before coming here, my life was all about how hard I could party; it was all about going to the right bar, on the right night in the right dress. Now, I rarely go out to bars anymore, just focus on my art and my kiting, eat well, everything I drink is health based, and since that change I have become so much more productive and feel so much better.”

At the same time, Sam is honest about life. “Ever since I moved here a lot of people go like ‘oh, your life must be so perfect, you live in paradise’ but at the same time I deal with all the same problems and struggles in life like everybody does. Being in a great place helps but doesn’t eliminate the problems.”

Sam Chilver, La Boca, CabareteKiting in La Boca
Sam loves La Boca, a small spot in the estuary of the Yasica river about 8 km (5 miles) to the east of Cabarete. “A lot of people always tell me ‘come to my spot, you’ll love it’ but in the end I still think La Boca is the best of them all. For me it’s the most ideal training ground even though it’s small.” Realistically, when she goes to ride there, it’s usually only her and three or four other pros, who are all males, so they’re always pushing her to go harder, bigger and faster. “The water is warm, there are no hazards, there’s always someone to come and rescue you if you’ve crashed and the wind is perfect steady and consistent, and best of all the water is beyond butterflat, what more can I ask for?”

Sam also rides in Kite Beach and sometimes Bozo Beach. “They say that if you can ride well in Cabarete you can kite well anywhere, and that’s definitely true.” She likes to ride in Cabarete because you can find flat water, waves and chop. “It makes for the perfect training grounds for future competitions, because you can’t expect to have perfect conditions everywhere.”

Sam Chilvers, La Boca, CabareteLoving life
Sam has been traveling intensively for the past year because of her art and the kiting and is looking forward to staying in Cabarete for a solid few months. “Summer is coming up which means strong consistent winds from 11 to 7, seven days a week! I’m really looking forward to stay here and focus on nailing some pretty sick tricks.”

“And of course I want to keep on painting.” Her place is silent testimony of that. It’s a mix and match of stuff and everything is covered in paint. “Everything I own has traces of paint, my dogs, my kites, my clothes. The other day a friend came by and even she had paint on her after five minutes.”

She is also looking for someone to take on a small kitten as she she’s taking care of a mother cat with two small kittens in the shack next to her place. And she’s on the look-out for a baby goat. “The other day I was asking myself what would make you more happy and the first answer that came into my head is ‘more animals’.”

Check out Sam's video by the Shantipant Project


Hot Deal in Cabarete!