Norma Akkelian first picked up a paintbrush three decades ago. Now, at age 71, she's putting on her first solo show.

At Galérie Erga in Montreal's Little Italy neighbourhood, a collection of Akkelian's vibrant paintings are on full display.

An expanse of hot pinks, rich blues and bold yellows, her work often features florals and natural motifs, but with her own unique flavour.

"It's fantasy," Akkelian told CTV News. "You look at it and there are so many things to discover. The more you look, the more you find."

Norma Akkelian

A former jewelry designer, Akkelian picked up painting some-30 years ago. But the 35-piece collection currently on display was created during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"[It's] when you have nothing else to do, and you're at home, and you're in the studio. I would just put my music on and have fun."


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Akkelian's son and daughter helped their mother put on the exhibit.

"Seeing [the paintings] all together -- we see them in the house, here and there, and the studio -- but it's nice to see them this way," said her son Arka Akkelian.

"I always thought it was unique. Obviously, I'm a little biased," he added with a laugh.

It was Akkelian's kids who introduced her to the world of social media. She now posts her artistic process online and has amassed over 47,000 Instagram followers.


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"Nowadays, an artist has to wear many hats," she said. "You're on Instagram, you're on Facebook. You gotta make your own videos. You gotta edit your own videos. I learn so many things because of it."

A portion of Akkelian's sales will go to the Shield of Athena, which supports victims of domestic violence, as well as the organization Armenian Family Support Services.

Her work will be on display until Sunday.