Woodcreek Park artist captures giant sea and sky

It looks like there will be a good lineup for the Art Crawl next weekend. With provincial COVID guidelines in place, we’ll have lots of artists to visit virtually and also physically. Claire Finlayson recently introduced me to Alisa Drake, a new young artist and resident of Woodcreek Park. I visited her home studio and can see why Claire wanted to commission Alisa to do a painting. 

For a young artist, completely self-taught, Alisa paints large, gorgeous canvasses of the ocean and sky. The waves are translucent, the ocean endlessly interesting as it extends toward the horizon, and clouds as varied as, well, clouds. Alisa grew up in Saskatoon which explains her love of clouds; she says the ocean reminds her of the wide prairie plains with its wondrous clouds. After meeting her husband in Calgary, they moved to the Coast, where they live in Woodcreek Park along with their two children. The ocean is just a pathway away and she works from photos taken by herself or daughter Jasmine. 

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She only began painting two years ago as a way of dealing with anxiety brought on by health issues. Her husband bought her some beginner paints and brushes and that’s how it started. Indeed, her paintings are very calming. Alisa paints in oils and her seascape paintings are so skillful, you would think she’s been painting her whole life. Getting the colours just right, she says, is the hardest part and she’s done a lot of experimentation. She says that large canvases give her the scope to explore the ever-changing ocean views that inspire her. 

Alisa credits Janhendrik Dolsma from the Netherlands for guidance and kind criticism, saying that “his wonderful sky paintings gives me such inspiration to push myself to one day paint at his level.” She loses herself in the art and paradoxically, finds that it keeps her grounded. Alisa says, “Art is in everyone. It’s so personal, it shows your soul.” She adds, “It’s in all of us. Everyone can do it.” While that might be true, I know for sure that I couldn’t do what she does! I am content to be an appreciator of good art. 

At last year’s Art Crawl, her paintings sold out and she is opening up her home studio this year with safety protocols in place. In addition to hers, there are abundant studios in Elphinstone to visit – the Sunnyside Crafters (1098 Sunnyside Rd.) looks like fun and I notice that Dawn Myers is back again with her baskets. Check out all the venues at https://suncoastarts.com/art-crawl/. While carver Darcy Gertz will not be in the Art Crawl this year, he has a beautiful mermaid wood carving seeking a home; I will pass along any requests to view. 

Flashback a year ago this month – who remembers the helicopter pickup of 47 megabags of garbage from Gower Point beach? The bags of trash collected by residents over a few months were finally dropped onto a waiting barge, with help by SAR folks and taken to Sechelt where volunteers weighed and sorted. The ECA, with Gord Bishop heading the committee, was behind this entirely volunteer community effort. Hopefully people are working harder to keep our beautiful beaches clean. 

Let me know of Elphinstone community news at: author.ggneilson@gmail.com

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