From left

A quintet of local artists exhibit work

Distinguished artists selling painted botanicals, horses and Ukrainian widows plus pottery and a hand hooked chair

Five local women with distinctive styles have come together for an art show at the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply.

The group is calling themselves The Quintet and they have more than just interesting art work in common.

“I think ultimately all of us as artists have to create what we love, what we’re passionate about, because it shows,” said Sherry Mitchell, a Qualicum Beach artist that has been referred to as one of the best botanical artists in North America by her peers.

The other four artists are painters Joan Larson and Fay St. Marie, potter Ann Marie Veale and fibre artist Maia Levine. The work will be up for sale at the gallery from Sept. 15 through Oct. 27.

Mitchell was born and raised in Qualicum Beach and says she was raised in a botanical household. Her parents and grandparents grew everything, she said, and she used to help her grandfather bring buckets of sweet peas to the local hotels. Her husband is also a botanist.

“Plants have always spoken to me,” she said. “And what I do is it’s all about light and shadow and contrast.”

Mitchell’s watercolour paintings are called photorealistic because they are incredibly accurate representations of natural subjects and she said people like that they can immediately identify her work. The majority of her paintings are of native plants and flowers from Vancouver Island and B.C.

Joan Larson is well-known for her pastel equine art, capturing the bold and bright colours of horses and RCMP officers at musical rides as well as the wild horses of Sable Island.

“My work is certainly horse crazy,” she laughed. “First love, last love, always love.”

Five years ago Larson first visited and fell in love with Sable Island, located on Canada’s East Coast. The island has limited access and visitors need approval from the Canadian Coast Guard. She took photographs of the wild horses, sandy beaches, sunsets and other wildlife on the island, and was mesmerized by her experience.

She returned to the Island last year for more photos and sketching and many of her finished pieces will be up at the Gallery.

The Coombs artist said she hopes people recognize what a spectacular and special environment the island is and that it needs to stay that way.

“If anything ever happens I hope people will be able to put their foot down and say no, it needs to be protected and saved,” she said. Following the interview with The News, Larson forwarded information about a biologist in Newfoundland (who specializes in the study of unique ecosystems contained on remote islands)  calling for the horses to be removed from Sable Island. Larson said she will be contacting the Friends of Sable Island Society about the issue.

Fay St. Marie is a Parksville artist who will be bringing work to the exhibition from her Ukrainian series. All the acrylic and mixed media paintings came about from St. Marie’s two-week mission trip to the Ukraine in 2008.

“I really felt compelled to paint these widows as they walked away, as we gave them their precious bags of food and clothing, and so I want these paintings to communicate a way of life for these Ukrainian widows,” she said.

St. Marie has completed over 100 paintings to date and the series has been exhibited in Saskatoon and Toronto as well as locally. It has been a very successful series, St. Marie said, since she started creating the paintings six years ago.

Ann Marie Veale has been creating functional pottery for about 40 years, 30 of them in this area. She works part time teaching pottery in schools through the Nanaimo Art Gallery and also teaches from her studio and gallery in North Qualicum, which she shares with her husband, renowned wood turner, Jason Marlow.

Veale said she loves every aspect of making pottery.

“When you do production work it’s like being a baker — when you see this board full of perfect little pots all the same, it’s very satisfying,” she said.

Veale will have mugs, tea sets, pasta bowls and more at the exhibition, including some retro patterns like her popular Circle of Friends Friendship Pots adorned with repetitive geometric designs.

Maia Levine lives on Gabriola Island where she does rug hooking with pure wool. She hand dyes a lot of the material to create tea cozies, wall hangings, rugs, and a charming design covering the back and seat of a children’s rocking chair, which will be at the exhibition.

For more information on the artists visit their websites www.faystmarie.ca, www.sherrymitchell.ca and www.joanlarson.com. Veale and her husband’s studio and gallery, called Marlow Veale Gallery, is located at 5430 West Island Hwy. in Qualicum Beach.

The Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply is located at 206 First Ave West.

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