Painting group demonstrates value of mutual support

Painters might mostly work alone, but in groups like Edges, they don’t always work in isolation. 

For more than six years, the eight abstract and impressionist painters who constitute “Edges: Sunshine Coast Artists” have gathered every month to offer each other tips and encouragement. The latest results of that mutual admiration are on display in Local Colour, a vibrant new exhibition at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre in Sechelt. 

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Edges members are Frank Coldicott, Dièdra Goodwin, Jill King, Judy McLarty, Diane Miles, Elaine Seepish, Alison Taylor, and Odette Venuti. Some, like Venuti and Goodwin, are formally trained, decades-long practitioners; others discovered painting later in life. It’s a potent mix. 

“We do what we call constructive, helpful criticism,” McLarty said in an interview at the show’s opening reception. “Each person has their own set of skills and their own approach. We support each other fully in moving ahead with our work.” 

The group started to take shape after many of them met while taking part in a summer workshop given by renowned Gibsons painter and art teacher Todd Clark. 

It would seem to make sense for painters to offer each other regular support, much as writers’ groups often do, but in fact it’s rare. 

“It’s very unique,” said Sunshine Coast Arts Council curator Sadira Rodrigues. “It’s not as commonplace in urban environments because they’re much more competitive. But here you have a community of support around your work, and to watch the caretaking among the artists is pretty extraordinary.” 

Frank Coldicott is the only male among the eight painters. He’s also different in another, more unusual respect: he’s colour blind. “It’s fun for me to paint with that handicap, which is not a handicap at all,” Coldicott said. “Yellow and blue stand out for me but once it gets past that, I don’t have a clue.” 

Added McLarty: “We sometimes tease him a little bit. We say, ‘Frank, blue and yellow again?’ Then he’ll come to a meeting with something red.” 

The Local Colour show runs until April 14.


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