Shelby Assenheimer uses trowels of all sizes when she paints in her home studio in the Saanich’s Maplewood neighbourhood. She’ll be at the TD Art Gallery Paint-In on Saturday.

Trowels bring the texture for Saanich artist

Saanich artist Shelby Assenheimer shows at Moss Street, Cedar Hill Centre

Dotted with drops of blue, orange and yellow, it’s clear the set of hand-held trowels hanging off a workbench in Shelby Assenheimer’s Maplewood home studio are not those of a mason.

The trowels are key to flushing out the textured layers of Assenheimer’s paintings. She pulls glazes and colours across the canvas, at various stages of the process, to create a lively background for many, but not all of her paintings.

Assenheimer will likely have a trowel or two on hand when she participates in Saturday’s TD Art Gallery Paint-In on Moss Street for the first time. As many as 35,000 people are expected to hit the festival-like atmosphere.

“I’ve been going to the Moss Street paint-in for years and I think it’s a fantastic way to get into the community and a great way to be part of an event with other artists,” she said. “It completes the circle of artist and viewer, being together outside. I know it’s thousands (of people) but it feels like millions.”

Many of her works are currently available for viewing at the Arts Centre at Cedar Hill until July 29, in the Big Ones and Little Ones show with fellow local artist Linda Darby. The July 16 opening featured the added entertainment of clowns, mannequins and mini talks by other artists in an attempt to draw in a bigger crowd, she said.

“It’s meant to be fun, we want to get people in the door that wouldn’t otherwise attend an art show opening.”

Assenheimer always knew she was an artist. But it took a few attempts until her passion for painting finally poured out.

She grew up in Vancouver, and was accepted into the Vancouver Art School (Emily Carr University of Art and Design) out of high school, but she never attended. Instead, she spent a career focused on interior design, close enough to appreciate fine art but still an arm’s length from creating it.

Painting finally came together for her in 2010 and her house, which is already an exhibit of modernist, open concept interior design with Tuscan stylings, now boasts the vibrant colours of her 10-foot by 10-foot canvas paintings.

To be fair, some of Assenheimer’s works use earthy tones and evoke a sombre response. All of them grip the viewer with her cutting style and layers created with trowels.

“This is my statement, it’s my way to express myself without words,” she shrugged.

The TD Art Gallery Paint-In is tomorrow (July 18) from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. in and around the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and along Moss Street between Fort and Dallas until 4 p.m.

The event is free, a celebration of art with more than 160 local artists and emerging artists from across Vancouver Island and the province – painters, sculptors, carvers, potters, printmakers, performers and more.

“The event introduces people to the process of creating art, not just the final product,” said Jon Tupper, director of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. “Many of the artists invite the public to experience the use of their media and materials.”

The AGGV, at 1040 Moss St., is open for free (donations welcome) Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The public will also enjoy seven imagination stations featuring interactives where visitors can create their own works plus rest stations, water refill facilities, doggy bowls and a bouncy castle. The Gallery Food and Beverage Garden will be in the AGGV parking lot, open until 9 p.m. Groove Kitchen  will play live music sets from 5 to 9 p.m.


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