For Qualicum Beach resident Pauline Pike, she said the challenge with painting totem poles is trying to capture the magic as well as the realism.
Pike visited Haida Gwaii a few years ago with her husband and a friend. She said she spent nine days there.
“I just fell in love with it,” said Pike, adding that while she was there she began painting the totem poles.
Since then, Pike said she has painted quite a few totem poles and has done many studies of the poles, but that trip to Haida Gwaii was her first time painting totem poles.
While she was there, Pike said she had her sketchbook with her and backed her sketches up with a few photos. She added many hours can go into some of her paintings.
“You have to have the realism plus the atmosphere,” Pike said. “They’ve got to feel as old and as special as they are.”
Pike said there is something about the totem poles in Haida Gwaii that is magical. Some totem poles are located in the ancient village of SGang Gwaay which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“Because the atmosphere there and the moss and the feeling and the history, you just gravitate toward it,” Pike said when it came to painting the poles.
Pikes work of the totem poles is a mix of watercolours and acrylics. She said she didn’t have to do anything different with the mediums to capture the same qualities of the totem poles.
“I do paint the acrylics very lightly — I’m a watercolour person. So I can adapt the acrylics to the flow that you get with the watercolour,” Pike said. “The watercolour is softer in some ways than the acrylics, but I’ve learned to adapt the acrylics to the watercolour style that I like.”
Pike’s work of the totem poles will be up in Qualicum Art Supply & Gallery (206 First Ave. West) for the next few months.
First Nations masks
Qualicum Art Supply & Gallery also has a selection of First Nations masks on display and for sale.
Art Supply owners Bill and Bonnie Luchtmeijer said they were given the collection by the owners of Buena Vista by the Sea in Qualicum Beach.
Bill said most of the artists are from Vancouver Island from nations such as Nuu-chah-nulth, Ditidaht, Coast Salish and Tsawataineuk.
One of the masks on display is “Crow Child” by Willie “Buddy” George who is a part of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
Bill said George is a very fine-detail worker.
“You’ll notice everything inside is all smoothly finished,” Bill said. “They all tell a story. Some are a little bit more apparent. He doesn’t title his pieces, other than to just give them a name.”
Bill said he has been trying to find out more about the masks.
“There’s a huge amount of history in all these pieces and a lot of it, we don’t even know, but I started going online,” Bill said.
Maria and Mark Desnoyer both have work for sale in Qualicum Art Supply & Gallery as well.
Maria, who is from the Hesquiaht First Nation on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, weaves baskets made of cedar.
She said she began learning how to weave in 1998 from her mother.
“(I) have continued to learn new techniques and ways to weave,” Maria said. “I prefer to work with cedar bark as I find it so versatile.”
With cedar bark, Maria said one would generally use black and red with some dark blues, greens and browns.
Maria said she was taught cedar trees were considered life to her nation since it provided the baskets which held everything from food to trade goods to clothing.
Mark, a wood turner, creates wooden bowls and containers from a variety of wood types.
He said he prefers to use cherry, maple and black walnut, but he likes to experiment with exotic types of wood.
There is also work by local artist Jai Kealy. Kealy creates carvings honouring his Cree and Sioux heritage.
Kealy has received numerous awards over the years for his carvings.
Kealy’s work is available at Qualicum Art Supply & Gallery as well.