Kaye Lindsay

Severe vision loss not stopping Qualicum Beach resident from painting

Kaye Lindsay has been taking art classes at The Gardens in Qualicum Beach

Repetition was key when Kaye Lindsay was learning how to paint rose petals.

“Sweep down to the right and sweep down to the left. Go up in arches and that’s how I learned to do the petals on the roses,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay, who is a resident at The Gardens in Qualicum Beach, has severe vision loss. She said that she only started taking the art classes at The Gardens about six months ago.

The art classes, which are offered through a grant from the Regional District of Nanaimo, started late last year.

Lindsay said in the beginning she had to learn how to hold the brush and the brush strokes.

“I don’t think I’m an artist, but Rosemary (Fontenla) talked me into coming,” Lindsay said, adding that since starting she’s had a great deal of fun.

After taking  her first class, Lindsay said she was worried about how the painting was going to turn out.

“I felt that, well, it was difficult because I really didn’t think I had any art talent in me and I had a funny feeling that I’d made a big mess of everything, but everyone reassured me I hadn’t,” Lindsay said. “The second time I came it was just sheer fun. I loved it and realized I’m glad Rosemary encouraged me to come and do this work.”

Fontenla said she thinks one day Lindsay will be able to create a painting all on her own, adding that Lindsay just needs more practice and confidence.

“Eventually, what my dream is that she builds up enough confidence that she can actually — in her mind’s eye — visualize something and put it on canvas. I think we can do it.”

Fontenla, the art teacher, said she knew Lindsay — before she was blind — from her time working at The Gardens before her retirement.

“I wanted her to do something other than listen to the radio, so I knew she would trust me because it takes a lot of trust to do this,” Fontenla said of Lindsay. “It was an experiment for both of us, so we both learned from this.”

Lindsay said she finds a lot of camaraderie in the classes.

“Everyone tells me what it looks like at the end and says maybe you should do a little bit of this or a little bit of that and that’s how my paintings end up — with imagination and help from Rosemary,” Lindsay said.

Since starting the classes, Lindsay said she has painted roses, sailboats and a sunset.

For the sailboats, Lindsay said there wasn’t a plan in place when she began painting, but she started painting the canvas with different colours. Lindsay added that Fontenla put masking tape over the painting, and Lindsay said she started painting that with different colours.

“We didn’t really know what it looked like, it just had all sorts of colours and then someone said, ‘Oh, I see a sailboat in the background.’ We didn’t know what we were doing, but that’s how it ended up,” Lindsay said with a laugh.

Works from residents at The Gardens, Qualicum Manor and Stanford Place are on display at the McMillan Arts Centre (133 McMillan St., Parksville) as part of the August exhibit.

The MAC is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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