Grand Prix d’Art a big hit

Event mixes painting with sports in Qualicum Beach

Third place finisher John Hofman’s painting will hang permanently at The Old School House arts centre.

Third place finisher John Hofman’s painting will hang permanently at The Old School House arts centre.

Artists from around Vancouver Island and even Alberta got out of their studios and onto the streets of Qualicum Beach July 28 for the Grand Prix d’Art.

For the past 20 years the event has attracted top notch plein air painters and hundreds of spectators and this year 44 artists participated and helped the Old School House Arts Centre (TOSH) mark its 100 year milestone in the community.

The Grand Prix d’Art is a race of competing artists who must complete a work of art en plein air (working outside on location, not in a studio) within three hours and this year’s first place winner competed in the event for the first time ever.

Susan Woolgar from Lethbridge, Alberta took top honors for her pastel depicting the town hall.

TOSH executive director Corinne James said it is rare they have an out of area artist who comes in and wins the whole thing, but agreed Woolgar did have prime real estate to work with.

“There were great artists out there and she beat the pants off everybody.  She is obviously an accomplished artist,”  James admitted.

Each plein air painter was assigned a location by lottery and their work had to represent or be inspired by something or a person that was visible from the assigned location.

Second place went to Dan Gray.  The Errington artist is the one who initiated the event and he has been in every race since its inception.

His pastel depicting the activity surrounding the site of the 100th birthday fairgrounds around TOSH was purchased immediately.

All of the pieces are on display at TOSH until August 12 and many of them are still available to buy.

The sixth annual calendar of the best 12 paintings will be designed and sold as a fundraiser for the arts centre.

James said Nanaimo artist John Hofman who came in third for his painting of TOSH has also painted in all 20 races and he is donating his piece to the gallery.

She admitted it will be extra special because it commemorates their 100th anniversary.

“It will be a permanent piece in our hall of frames.”

Visitors were encouraged to watch the process and the progress of the artists at the various locations in Qualicum Beach and James said a lot of visitors picked up maps and watched the action.

The painters had to complete their work within the three-hour limit and have the paintings in display condition, titled and priced for sale no later than one hour after completion.

A panel of three judges: Merv Brandel, Donna Baspaly and Sherry Mitchell then had the tough job of determining the winners.

After much deliberation they chose what they considered to be the best and ribbons as well as cash prizes were presented to the top three, as well six honourable mentions were given out to David Goatley  from  Victoria, Marilyn Timms   from Courtenay, Sheena McCorquodale out of   Qualicum Bay, Nanaimo’s Eunmi Conacher, Mark Glavina from  Steveston and Vancouver’s Mike Radford.

James said the event was a fantastic day for Qualicum Beach and TOSH.