Dotty denizens of the deep


Jan DeGrass / Arts and Entertainment Writer
July 31, 2014 08:08 AM

Eleven young painters explore art and marine life at a workshop with artist Rogest at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre in Sechelt.

Sechelt marine artist Rogest (aka Ron Steven) certainly has a way with people — particularly kids — that challenges them and makes them smile as well.

This week he was leading a workshop at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre in Sechelt for ages nine to 12 teaching them something about his unique style of painting he calls dottilism, as well as about the sea creatures they are painting.

Some of the 11 young people at work on their art projects aren’t sure if he’s joking with them or not, but they are warming to him. And more importantly, they are learning a lot about marine life and about art.

“He’s very entertaining,” said art workshop organizer Sherryl Latimer, whose daughter Maddie served as workshop assistant.

For the second year, the Sunshine Coast Arts Council and Rogest joined forces to put on this fun and informative summer art program for youth. It introduces students to art and the ocean, and they created a collaborative art work, which will be donated to the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association (SCCA) who may raffle it or make prints, as they wish.

Rogest is a commercial artist with a reputation for raising awareness through his art of sea life and threats to their environment. In the art workshop, this is demonstrated by each kid choosing a denizen of the deep to paint: a turtle, octopus, starfish, whale or jellyfish.

The next stage is crucial to making the painting come alive. Rogest has them practise making a line of white dots on paper.

“Make them not so close that they’re kissing, but not so far apart I could drive a motorcycle through them,” he explains.

His comments on the students’ efforts range from “sensational” to “this looks like a dyslexic penguin walked through the dots.” However, no one fails. Every child gets the green light to use his/her new dot painting skill to highlight parts of their sea creature. Before too long the starfish’s points have been trimmed in white dots, a whale breaches with its new dot-outlined face and a sea turtle’s shell is rimmed in white highlights.

The SCCA also has a display in the gallery during the three-day program. For a break from painting, the students sit with Dianne Sanford who talks about the life to be found in the intertidal zone. These are knowledgeable kids and some already know why you must not take shells from the beach — they should be left to become homes for other crabs.

Some of the students have seen sand lance, a type of fish that lays its eggs at high tide on the beach and is an important food for other sea life. But everyone, including Rogest, learns something new about the sea around them.

The paintings along with a description of each marine creature will hang over the weekend at the Doris Crowston Gallery at the Arts Centre for all to see. It’s open to the public to stop by. You can view them until this Sunday, Aug. 3. 

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