Five Saanich artists work with four colours

This weekend’s Go Figure show will feature 150 paintings at Mary Winspear Centre

Saanich artist Linda Stagg’s work “West Coast Culture” – depicting a seagull perched on a statue of a diver in Stanley Park – will be one of the paintings on display this weekend at the Mary Winspear Centre

Five Saanich artists are taking part in a unique two-day art show in Sidney of 150 figurative paintings produced using four colours and a 1.5-inch housepainters’ brush.

Melody Poirier, Terri Heal, Linda and Randy Stagg, and Shannon Holms are among the 30 students invited by North Saanich artist Nicholas Pearce to be part of the show and sale, called Go Figure. Admission is free.

The weekend show will take place at the Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Ave. West in Sidney, on April 9 and 10. The 150 paintings will include flamenco dancers, nudes and portraits.

Pearce, who teaches at his North Saanich studio, has been painting the figure for more than three decades. He’s held one-man shows and participated in group shows during that time, and a show in collaboration with his students is a long-held dream.

“About eight years ago, I conceived the idea of holding a public showing of my paintings along with those done by students in my classes,” said Pearce, who is represented by galleries in Victoria, Calgary and Edmonton. “Painting is communication. You only know if it really works if it communicates with someone else. And the best way to see that happen is to show it.”

For most of Pearce’s students, including the Staggs and Holms, this is their first show. Some student works will be for sale, but others will not: the paintings mean too much to their creators for them to sell.

Terri Heal is a decorating and colour consultant who took her first painting class from Pearce five years ago.

“Even though I felt like I was diving into the deep end of the pool, he was ever so patient and supportive throughout the process,” said Heal, who has gone on to work in a variety of mediums and display her work in shows throughout Victoria.

“The use of the larger brush and the discipline to ‘paint what you see, not what you think you see’ was incredibly helpful. I was very pleased with my resulting work, and my friends and family were amazed at how much I had accomplished as well.”

Linda Stagg has donated some of her paintings to raise funds for the Society for Eating Disorder Awareness and Education, in memory of her colleague Michelle Stewart; and Creatively United for the Planet.

“In October 2014, my husband Randy suggested we both take Nick’s weekend course,” she said. “Completing a picture in two days was a treat. Some large needlework projects had taken me longer than two years  – and given me crow’s toes. At the end of every course, I’m amazed at the painting Nicholas has helped me produce.”

Throughout the show, students will demonstrate Pearce’s techniques, using grids, a palette of acrylic paint limited to four colours plus white, and a housepainter’s sash brush. These techniques allow artists to finish a 30 x 40-inch (76 x 101-cm) canvas in two days.

Local flamenco dancers who have modelled for Pearce’s classes will perform at Saturday’s opening reception, which starts at 7 p.m.

Pearce’s paintings are inspired by his fascination with women and the strong, feminine spirit of flamenco. Not surprisingly, the female form and flamenco dancers are recurring themes in his work.

“I paint women as people: strong people with depth and power,” said  Pearce. “I also paint them as delicate, sensitive and deeply emotional, with the fortitude to present that side of themselves to the world.”


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