Lauren Collins photo   Elsa Bluethner

Lauren Collins photo Elsa Bluethner

Three Island artists work displayed at TOSH in Qualicum Beach

The artists’ mediums include ceramics and painting

The Old Schoolhouse Arts Centre’s lastest exhibition includes sculptor Elsa Bluethner and painters Martha Jablonski-Jones and Pauline Pike.

The exhibition is on now at TOSH until March 11.



Elsa Bluethner

Elsa Bluethner, a Gabriola Island artist, has been painting for the last 12 years, but in the last two years Bluethner has found another love working with clay.

Bluethner said she was visiting a friend in Texas two years ago when she started working in the sand and sculpting it, creating mermaids, dolphins and “whatever came out of my head.”

When she got back to Gabriola Island, Bluethner said her husband went out and bought her a cheap bag of clay.

“I had no idea what it was, how to fire it, nothing,” Bluethner said. “I started playing with it.”

Bluethner said she soon realized she needed a kiln, so she taught herself how to use one and started experimenting with different clays.

“So very quickly, it evolved and everything comes out of my imagination,” Bluethner said.

Bluethner said she draws inspiration from movement and performance arts, of which she has plenty of experience. Bluethner said she has a background is fashion design, costuming aand dance.

“I use a lot of my pattern-drafting skills from clothing manufacturers when I design my sculpture,” Bluethner said.

For one of her pieces, a woman in a regal gown, Bluethner said she made a pattern for the dress out of the clay and draped it to make it look like fabric.

Bluethner said the strength and pliable nature of low-fire paper clay lends itself well to fabricate delicate details and manipulate the slabs of clay into complex designs.

For more information on Bluethner, visit

Martha Jablonski-Jones

Martha Jablonski-Jones exhibition at TOSH features downtown and urban landscapes.

Jablonski-Jones said Michaelangelo said he was never inspired by nature, but by cityscapes. Jablonski-Jones said that she grew up in the city, and has lived in major cities such as Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria.

“I always enjoyed being out and about, getting into the flow of things,” she said. “I love people watching.”

Jablonski-Jones pieces include scenes of Pike Place Market in Seattle, coffee shops and even small towns such as Cumberland.

“Downtown kind of covers small or big cities. Some of them aren’t right downtown, but sort of urban,” Jablonski-Jones said. “It’s just getting out of your house and getting to the main street, even if it’s just one main street.”

Jablonski-Jones said travelling is her inspiration.

“I can’t paint unless I’ve stood in the place,” she said. “It has to be something I’ve experienced and felt.”

She said if she’s finding herself down, and uninspired, she will take a trip into a city, adding that she finds it stimulating.

With her paintings, Jablonski-Jones said she usually takes lots of pictures of the scene and then looks at them for hours and hours.

Jablonski-Jones studied fine art ay the University of Alberta in the late 1960s, but she said she swore she would never paint again.

She said she then spent a few years working at a design firm in Edmonton, putting out drawings and cartoons for books, brochures and other materials.

Jablonski-Jones said should was eventually drawn back into painting while living in Calgary. She said she always loved Vancouver and started watching Da Vinci’s Inquest, adding that she became glued to the series.

She said she found the show so intriguing because of the alleyways, so she kept flying to Vancouver and painting pictures from photos. Jablonski-Jones said she later moved into a studio in Vancouver.

Jablonski-Jones said after a few years of that, she moved to Courtenay and has been living there for the past six years.

For more information on Jablonski-Jones, visit


Pauline Pike

Pauline Pike, a Qualicum Beach artist, works mainly in watercolours, painting local landscapes from her continuous sketches.

Pike retired in 2011 after years of teaching at TOSH and privately in her home studio.

Some of Pike’s work inlclude paintings of totem poles in Haida Gwaii which she started painting after spending nine days there. Pike said she fell in love with them.

Pike previously told The NEWS she has painted quite a few totem poles since then, but that trip to Haida Gwaii was her first time painting totem poles.

“You have to have the realism plus the atmosphere,” Pike said. “They’ve got to feel as old and as special as they are.”

Originally from England, Pike was raised in Edmonton, then moved to the Cariboo region where she got her start in painting. after several workshops and years of painting, she began to teach in colleges and hold workshops in watercolour painting, oils and acrylics.

Pike’s totem pole works are a mix of watercolours and acrylics.

“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.”


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