Catherine Elwood may be 89 years old, but the exhibit of her paintings at the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply is her first show. Ever.
“I was averse to it at first,” she admitted, looking at the images she called her “babies.” “I was convinced I was doing this for my grandchildren.”
“I had to ask her … beg her,” said co-owner of Qualicum Art Supply Bonnie Luchtmeijer, who has seen many of Elwood’s paintings come through the shop’s doors to be framed.
The work currently hanging in the Gallery, however, follows one theme: still life. Painted with oils, the collection showcases many a family heirloom and flowers grown in her own garden.
Elwood’s passion for flowers and painting both started early in her life. In her artist bio at the Gallery, the Parksville-born painter said she remembers “pansies and poppies in the garden … now the paved parking lot behind St. Edmunds” and the “forest, fields and rocky escarpments” of the vicarage on Salt Spring her family moved to in the ‘30s. And while she doesn’t know exactly when she first took up a brush, she said she does have a little picture of a tiger lily that she painted when she was six years old.
To this day, Elwood said she has quite a “library” of botanical-themed paintings. “They’re all stacked up in a bedroom waiting for someone to want them,” she said
Flowers weren’t the only subject to come from her brush, however. Elwood said she paints what she wants, be it a landscape, a watercolour, or something else.
For the most part, Elwood said she is self-taught. While she did attend night classes at the Nova Scotia College of Art during WWII while she was stationed at H.M.C.S Stadacona in Halifax with the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, she said she “learned precisely nothing” about art in university. Instead, her techniques came through magazines, books and visiting galleries in the UK, France and Italy. She also said that the learning never stopped. “I’m learning more now as an old girl,” she said.
So after all those years of practice, Luchtmeijer is glad that Elwood finally agreed to set up a show. “It’s like a pat on the back,” she said.
As for Elwood, when asked if she’d consider doing another show, she quickly responded, “Oh, heaven’s no.” However, after a brief pause she added, “I suppose so, if someone asked me too.”
Elwood’s work will be hanging in the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply until the end of January.