Tiki Westnedge’s current show gives viewers a peak into her personal history.
The paintings, now hanging in the Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply, predominately feature Shack Island, a small rocky outcrop that sits in between Piper’s Lagoon and Neck Point in Nanaimo.
“It’s my favourite subject to paint,” she said. “The shacks have character.”
Though she now lives in Qualicum Beach, Westnedge was born in Nanaimo and spent her summers in a cabin on Hammond Bay. She first swam to nearby Shack Island with her father at age 9.
As the name suggests, the island is home to a collection of small colourful shacks. And while the land itself is owned by the Crown, these structures are not public. Instead, according to a 2007 article in The Nanaimo Daily News, they are owned by the families of the original builders and are kept as summer cabins. In some cases, the shacks have been passed down for as long as five generations.
While Westnedge’s family doesn’t own one of the buildings, the island has been a steady fixture in her life. To this day, she still swims out to the rocky bluffs a few times each year to visit and take reference pictures with a waterproof camera. Sometimes, at low tide, she’ll walk to the island from Piper’s Lagoon with a sketchbook.
“Most people don’t mind,” she said.
The painter said she is drawn to the fact the buildings are colourful and not architecturally perfect. She also said she hopes to give people a different view of the shacks through her work so the island is “not taken for granted.”
To bring the location to life on canvas, Westnedge said she prefers to use acrylic paints and “lively” brushstrokes. “I can get the vibrant colours and the texture on the weathered buildings,” she explained.
This style of painting also helped her earn her associate membership in the Federation of Canadian Artists this February. In fact, some of the images she used in her accreditation show are hanging in QAS.
“It’s encouraging and validating,” she said of attaining the signature membership. “It requires dedication and perseverance.” Westnedge has painted since childhood, spending her spare time creating and attending workshops after she attained a degree in art education from UBC, a Masters’ degree in counselling and a career as a school teacher.
The painter, who is a member of the Arrowsmith chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists, also said she eventually plans to go for her senior FCA membership and there is a “good chance” she’ll use more images of her beloved Shack Island for that next step.
“I’m not tired of it yet,” she said of the subject. The Gallery is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m.