The work of renowned Coombs artist Joan Larson can be viewed at both the McMillan Arts Centre (MAC) in Parksville and The Old School House (TOSH) Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach until the end of October.
Larson has three pieces in the MAC exhibit as part of the Society of Canadian Artists’ (SCA) Juried Exhibition and Competition, which can be viewed until Oct. 24. Her charcoal piece titled ‘Wild’ won her the Vancouver Island Entry Award.
At TOSH, seven pieces of Larson’s work are on show until Oct. 30, along with the work of five other artists, in the Purely Pigment Pastel exhibit.
She described her fellow exhibiting artists at TOSH as ‘die-hard pastelists.’
“Once you get bit by the pastel bug, it can sometimes ruin you for anything else. Not only is it ‘goof-proof,’ it’s just luscious,” she said.
Of the seven pieces at TOSH, Larson’s ‘Diner With A View’ is near and dear to her heart, as it’s based on one of many photos she took while on a train trip in 2015. The journey earned its significance by being the last trip she took with her mother before she died. Larson hopes to have several other pieces in her ‘Train Trip’ series ready for an upcoming December and January show at the Qualicum Art Supply and Gallery.
For years, horses have been a staple in Larson’s work, saying the animals have a way of ‘feeding her soul’ by relieving stress and anxiety.
They force her to ground herself and pay attention to the moment.
“Because when you’re around horses, you pay attention or you get hurt,” she said with a chuckle.
The submission that won the Vancouver Island Entry Award in the SCA juried competition also portrayed a horse against a textured abstract background.
“Horses are not new to me, I’ve painted them all my life. But the charcoal work is new. And, to me, it’s a wonderful marriage of realism and abstraction, which I find fascinating,” she said.
While working in the abstract is new to Larson, she enjoys the added mystery of not detailing every aspect in a painting.
“As you spend a number of years creating artwork, you realize that what you leave out is often more important than what you put it… What I can get away with leaving out invites the viewer to participate and finish the story. It’s a wonderful way of leading the eye and hinting, as opposed to telling,” she said.