Local artists find home for holidays

89-year-old ‘rookie’ exhibits pastel landscapes at Qualicum gallery

Donna Hales

The new kid on the Parksville Qualicum arts scene has an affinity for camping and music and a growing collection of pastel landscapes.

Oh, and two great-grandchildren.

Donna Hales, a spry and vigorous 89, has one of two new exhibits on display through mid-January at The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply in Qualicum Beach.

She is sharing space with members of the Mid-Island Polymer Art Guild — also known as the Clay Mates.

“We try to include artists in our gallery in the revolving displays that, in our opinion, have not yet reached a professional status, but because they’ve been longtime customers we try to promote and encourage,” said Bonnie Luchtmeijer, owner of Qualicum Art Supply.

The Clay Mates, who include Rose Gauthier, Joyce Grenon and Lynn Orriss, are back for a return engagement after displaying their distinctive polymer clay journals, jewelry and wall hangings here last December. But this month’s exhibit is a first for Hales, whose life was taken up with raising two children and running businesses in both food service and hardware with her husband.

Polymer clay artists and crafters, from left, Lynn Orriss, Joyce Green and Rose Gauthier display their work through mid-January at Qualicum Arts Supply in Qualicum Beach. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS

Still, she had been painting recreationally for decades on the prairies of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and selling the occasional piece, by the time she relocated to Vancouver Island in the early 2000s. About two years ago, she began studying pastels at Creekside Studio under award-winning pastel artist Joan Larson in Qualicum Beach.

Larson’s work is striking for its realism, particularly her series of horses. That realism is also apparent in Hales’ bold, textured landscapes, which bear little of the dreamlike haziness that pastels can often impart.

“I’m really loving them,” said Hales. “It’s fun to do.”

It’s also practical. Hales loves camping, and most of her art represents scenes she’s viewed while on camping trips — including a unique piece showing an air tanker dropping a load of distinctive red fire retardant on last summer’s Dog Mountain fire near Sproat Lake.

“I started with oils and moved to acrylics,” said Hales, who began painting between the age of 30 and 35.

“But with pastels, there’s not much cleanup when you’re out camping.”

On of those camping trips she met a man who, when he saw what she was up to, gave her a substantial folio of scenic photos. That chance meeting led to her most mysterious work to date — an image of a suspension bridge she believed to be Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver.

“But everyone that sees it tells me it’s not Lion’s Gate,” she said. “I don’t know where it is.”

Hales doesn’t expect to make a full-time career of art at this stage of her life. On the other hand, she’s far too busy to retire. An organ and keyboard player, she appears regularly with “a little band” at the Long Lake Chateau in Nanaimo.

“And I’m a seamstress,” she adds.

The exhibits can be seen at The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply at 206 First Ave. West in Qualicum Beach. It is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For info, call 250-752-3471 or email qacs@shaw.ca.

Just Posted

SD69 students hope to send artwork to space

The winning patches will accompany an experiment designed by five students from Ballenas

Review: Show about the show delights at Qualicum Beach premiere

A combination of hilarity and tender moments for Second Chances musical

Concern over vaping grows in Parksville Qualicum Beach schools

Health officer says parents have ample reason to be concerned

Coombs Family Day Celebration cancelled

The large snowfall that hit Vancouver Island recently has led to the… Continue reading

VIDEO: The Art of Surfboard Making

Hand-made, handpainted surfboard by Parksville couple

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read