Resilience, inspiration story of High River illustrator

Article content

 By Kevin Rushworth



Though it’s true that artists’ journeys through life are seldom easy, the passion, inspiration and dedication shown by one High River children’s illustrator has driven her to learn to draw again after losing her eyesight in both eyes.

Having drawn and painted for as long as she could remember, Karon Argue, who is legally blind, now uses a special monitor to allow her to pursue her lifelong passion.

Despite not being able to drive or perform other tasks, artwork as well as graphic design has consistently become a way for her to give back to the community that has supported her.

“It means the world to me because I still get to feel like I’m accomplishing something in a day,” Argue said, with tears in her eyes. “Art is my passion and it gives me the drive to get me up in the morning. It means everything.”

For the first time ever, Karon Argue and her photographer friend Lee-Anne Murakami will be hosting a joint show, titled Into the Wild, at the High River Culture Centre on April 6.

Although she has been an artist for many years, Argue said she was never confident enough to hold an art show. Together, Argue and Murakami took the plunge.

“I had thought that if I didn’t try it, I’ll never know if it was going to work,” she said, noting the two of them wanted to challenge themselves. “I’ve really pushed myself to do this.”

With three kids of her own, Argue said reading children’s stories to them when they were young was just the inspiration she needed to start illustrating her own ideas.

“Any of the stuff I’ve done, when I show it to little kids, their faces light up because they can relate to the characters or the colours,” she explained. “That makes me really happy when I see that.”

Argue spent a few years in her early childhood in High River and went to school in Nanton. Her university years were spent at art school in Medicine Hat and it would also start an unimaginably difficult period for herself and her young family.

Severe neuropathy in her legs, brought on by type one diabetes caused Argue to be wheelchair bound. Intensive treatments at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary meant Argue moved back to her parents’ home in High River.

After a few months of her husband still living in Medicine Hat with their three children, Argue was reunited with them when they moved to High River.

Whereas she was once told by her doctors that she would always be in a wheelchair, she astounded her medical teams by learning how to walk again.

“I’m not the kind of person who likes to sit back,” she said. “You go through spells because there has been lots of issues over the years, but this is something I can give back.”

Argue’s health further deteriorated when she contracted a bacterial infection in her stomach, causing ulcers that prevented her body from absorbing food.

Battling back from near death, she lost her vision in her right eye almost 7 years ago, once again brought on by diabetes. Her sight in her left eye was gone two and a half years ago.

Circumstances showed her that Argue had to sell her High River graphic design company, Gecko Graphics. Now, she works three afternoons a week for her friend at Highwood Printing, the company that bought her business.

Having to use a special monitor that magnifies her work up to 50 times, Argue has had to learn a whole new way to draw.

“My hand is here and my eyes are there and I’m working,” she explained. “It’s been a long road because it probably took a good nine months to learn how to use the equipment.”

Drawings that once took half a day or an entire day now take Argue up to 20 plus hours, but nothing will stop her from producing the artwork she loves.

“It takes a lot of effort and a lot of patience,” she said, noting she only sees up to 18 inches away. “I’m not fast by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m plugging away.”

Only using acrylics, Argue said she would describe her children’s illustrations as quirky, fun, off-centered and off-the-wall.

“They’re going to get little glimpses of the things I see,” she said. “There’s maybe not a lot of detail in some of the artwork, but it’s the way I see things. You’ll get to see into my imagination.”

Lee-Anne Murakami, who will be showing her photography as part of the Into the Wild show, said she was as nervous as her best friend Argue to set a date.

“Part of it is about the wildlife photography, but another part is the unknown,” she said. “This is a new venture and it’s sort of like jumping into the wild and seeing what will happen.”

When asked about the strength of her best friend Karon Argue, Murakami became silent, as she found the correct words.

“Karon is the true meaning of resilience, inspiration and compassion,” she said. “I’m extremely blessed to have her in my life.”

Into the Wild art show and sale starts at 6:30 p.m. on April 6 and runs until 9:30 p.m. at the High River Culture Centre.




Article content

Latest National Stories


Story continues below

News Near High River

This Week in Flyers