Sketch Club 103 and still going strong

Victoria Sketch Club gears up for annual show at Glenlyon Norfolk School, 1701 Beach Drive

Verna Linney works on an abstract painting at the Windsor Park Pavillion during a Victoria Sketch Club meeting.

Verna Linney works on an abstract painting at the Windsor Park Pavillion during a Victoria Sketch Club meeting.

It may be raining outside but on a Tuesday afternoon it’s cozy inside Windsor Pavilion. About 20 members of the Victoria Sketch Club, ranging in age from their early 50s to mid 90s, are setting up tools and easels for an afternoon of still life painting.

“We’re called a sketch club but really it’s all about painting,” 20-year member Christine Gollner says about the 103-year-old club. Emily Carr belonged, as did Jack Shadbolt, to the club that meets once a week to paint. Gollner travels from Cobble Hill to take part. Members meet at the pavilion in the winter and at open areas around the region in the summer.

This month the club hosts its annual show and sale at Glenlyon Norfolk School’s junior campus gymnasium on Beach Drive. Gollner, lead organizer, expects about 1,500 people will attend the week-long show that opens March 20.

“There isn’t a theme but it is West Coast because that’s where we are,” Gollner says of paintings’ subject matter. Although some of the artists such as Sophia Morrison and Ann Nohales Kezes produce abstracts, most of the 150 watercolour, acrylic, and oil paintings at the show this year will be landscapes, Gollner says. There will even be a few sketches.

Oak Bay councillor Tara Ney attended the show last year and hopes to this year, also.

“It’s a terrific venue to mingle with the local art crowd,” she says. “The place is always abuzz with energy and inspiration, and guaranteed fun. There’s a reasonably-priced treasure to be found at every show.”

For three years, member Verna Linney has coordinated the day-long hanging of the paintings that precedes the opening. Glenlyon lends the gym to the group during the school’s spring break.

As artists start to arrive at 9 a.m. paintings are checked for loose frames or wires by one team of volunteers before being handed to another team of a dozen who work to group paintings large and small on walls, display boards and on the gym stage.

Although some artists lobby to have their paintings grouped together, Linney believes it’s more effective to have work spread through the exhibition. She does make concessions though. “If you’re over 90 you do get to group your paintings together.”

Some of the artists, like Peter Dowgailenko are new to painting, but others like Gollner studied at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. Darlene Young exhibits at the Inner Harbour Causeway in the summer as well as Coast Collective gallery at Esquimalt Lagoon, but enjoys being with “the encouraging and mentoring” artists of the club and also appreciates the club’s longevity.

“A lot of art clubs come and go but the Victoria Sketch Club remains.”

Admission is free to the Victoria Sketch Club’s 103rd annual art show and sale at Glenlyon Norfolk School, 1701 Beach Drive, that runs Tuesday March 20 through Sunday, March 25, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closing at 4 p.m. on Sunday). Two members have donated paintings as door prizes. There will be an opening night reception with artists in attendance on Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m.