Three professional Coast artists, three distinctive styles. Nadina Tandy, Marleen Vermeulen and Greta Guzek take some time from their schedules to talk to Coast Reporter about their artistic process. They represent three-elevenths of the Eleven Equal Artists who will be showcased at the seventh annual Power of Paint show at the Seaside Centre in Sechelt, opening Friday, Aug. 17 and continuing until Sunday, Aug. 19.
To prepare for the show, Tandy painted throughout the winter. She unplugged from her social media to give herself a concentrated focus on a new body of work. She likes to paint on paper and found the perfect material in a series of fisheries maps from the 1950s on which she painted five of the smaller pieces for the group’s collaborative theme of fish. Using some vintage documents about the environment on coated paper, she painted over them using acrylic or micropen to turn them into heads and hearts images that she describes as weird and wonderful. The Eleven Equal Artists gather occasionally as a group to encourage and critique each other’s work and Tandy notes that they were supportive of her quirkiness.
“It’s your spontaneity that makes your paintings work,” Guzek told her.
“They [the paintings] are so Nadina,” Vermeulen said. “They are very beautiful.” It was a busy year so far for Vermeulen who is represented by the Kurbatoff Gallery in Vancouver and had shown her work there in the spring followed by an art retreat in Spain. She returned to the Coast at the end of May, walked into her empty studio and realized she had better work quickly to prepare for Power of Paint. She is best known for her textured forest and beach scenes in oils, so realistic in their depiction that it seems possible to step into the painting. Several of them will be in the show, along with something new, depictions of birds’ nests.
“It opened a new way for me,” Vermeulen said, pointing out that it used the same grey/brown tones as before. The symbolism of an empty nest that was once the cradle of life was not lost on the group. She has also created some seascapes that show more light and less heavy texture, somewhat different from her other work.
Guzek paints every day on her theme of coastal scenes; the images are influenced by place and season. She grumbles a bit about the difficulty of working in the heat – it’s not only draining but it dries the acrylic paint on her brush too quickly. Yet summer’s ambience appears joyfully in her depictions of colourful seaside cottages in full sun and the curling bark of the arbutus trees. There are no people in the paintings though the sight of kayaks pulled up on a beach is a sign of vacationers having summer fun in nature.
The other artists in the Power of Paint are: Morley Baker, Josefa Fritz Barham, Todd Clark, Elizabeth Evans, Carol LaFave, Kim LaFave, and Cindy Riach. One of the Eleven, Ian Macleod, is stepping away from the Power of Paint this year to spend more time with family. In his stead the event coordinator, artist Ginny Vail, will be showing one of her pieces.
“It’s an extraordinary sustained effort,” Guzek said, referring to putting together a show of this size and popularity.
“And it’s to a high standard,” added Tandy.
“The people who come like to see our individual development,” Vermeulen said. “It’s one cool aspect of the show.”
A collaborative piece of fish-themed smaller works by all the artists will be on display and each piece sells for $200. This is a chance to buy a work from a professional artist with the funds raised going toward bursaries for fine arts students.
The opening reception is on Friday, Aug. 17 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Seaside Centre with live music by Budge Schachte and Wanda Nowicki. It continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with painting demos on Saturday and Sunday, starting at 11 a.m. For information, see the Facebook page Eleven Equal Artists.