You might already have a Brian Romer reproduction in your home - the local artist's work appears on the label of a Calona Vineyard Pinot Gris fine wine.
Romer is a prolific artist who is currently busy renovating a cabin in Selma Park in preparation for his move to the Sunshine Coast from West Vancouver. It's a rustic log cabin that his family has been visiting since 1978. Their goal is to build their new house alongside it on the waterfront. His wife calls the new home "a studio with a house attached."
Romer has been an amateur artist most of his life, and on turning 60, he will live out the dream, move to his new studio and paint.
Painting has taken a back seat to his career, he says: 15 years in banking and another 15 in real estate development. When he was not too busy building large suburban office parks, he would paint. For the last five years, he's been taking his art seriously, producing landscapes in the Canadian tradition.
"It's a joy to paint," he says. "I paint quickly; acrylic suits me."
A few years ago, he caught an announcement in the North Shore News asking for submissions of art to reproduce on Calona wine labels. Romer was not especially a wine connoisseur, but with a what-the-heck attitude, he submitted copies of his work, including his scenes of the vineyards of France captured during the family's regular trips to Courtauly, a farming village.
The wine label selection was a juried process; out of 500 artists across Canada, Romer's painting, Pacific Pine, was chosen for a 2001 Riesling, and, more recently, his impressionistic view of a French vineyard, Le Dernier Jour, Courtauly, was chosen for the 2003 Pinot Gris currently on sale.
Calona Vineyards say they like to find a painting that expresses the character of the wine.
"They wanted to capture the flavour, the feel of it," Romer says, a concept he understands since he seeks to do the same, not just faithfully reproduce the landscape. His work is conveyed by the senses he stimulates and the colours he uses: blues and greens for the West Coast, yellows and oranges for France.
Though the trips to France are an annual event, Romer also paints everything he sees in Selma Park.
"I must have painted the trees in front of our cabin about 200 times," he laughs. He paints en plein air - out of doors and in the moment - at Smuggler Cove and other locations on the Coast. Some of these are on show at Gift of the Eagle Gallery in Gibsons.
He's had no artistic training, but his dad was also a weekend artist.
"We used to sit at the breakfast table on Sundays and draw," Romer remembers.
He taught himself how to draw figures and portraits and has produced a prodigious body of work such that he's held solo shows in West Vancouver at the Ferry Building Gallery and the Silk Purse. He has become involved with the North Shore arts scene by being on the advisory board for the Harmony Arts Festival. Following his full-time move to the Coast, Romer hopes to become part of the local arts network.
For those artists wishing to emulate Romer, Calona Wines is accepting art for its next series up to Oct. 31. Details are at www.calonavineyards.ca.