This drawing of a Galapagos Flycatcher is one of many graphite bird drawings on display at TOSH as part of local artist Francine Street’s first solo gallery, running from May 29 to June 24. — Submitted by Francine Street

Graphite artist captures inspiration from Ecuador

A series on birds for Parksville resident’s first solo exhibition

Francine Street has been a lover of drawing and the outdoors from a very early age, but it was a recent trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands that inspired her first solo exhibition.

Street is showing a series of graphite drawings of birds at TOSH until June 25, based on photos of local birds and those seen on various trips.

The show is a reflection of Street’s major passions. “I absolutely love outdoors and nature,” said Street. “My husband teases me that I’ve seen every nature documentary ever made, so I guess I’m a bit of a hobbyist naturalist.”

It’s perhaps not a surprise that a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands in January of 2016 inspired Street to create art with a naturalist, illustrative bent.

“(It was) amazing,” said Street of the trip. “(The Galapagos) has a really interesting, surreal landscape. You have the incredibly blue water and sky with the black lava rock. And the wildlife there was really fun as well. The ubiquitous iguana, which you are super excited for when you first see them, and then they are all over the place. And the birds too, it was really neat to see things like the blue-footed booby and the frigatebird… it was really cool.”

Street, also a photographer, took many photos during the trip. One of her favourite shots was of a rufous-tailed hummingbird taken in the Mindo Cloud Forest in Ecuador. “It was kind of a rainy day and the sun was coming out and the photo was just amazing,” said Street. “ All the jewel-tones of the bird (came out), and it actually sat still long enough.”

That photo became her initial inspiration for picking up her pencil.

As she continued going through her photos over the years and chose bird shots to draw, the work “started to feel like a series.”

Asked if it’s difficult trying to reproduce the exactness of a photo in her drawings, she said, “I love getting into those tiny details. One of my 11×14 images, for example, will take me about three days to do, if everything goes well.”

Street, a TOSH resident artist for more than a year now, said she hopes people see a spark of the bird itself in her work, and that they enjoy it.

“I talk to some people that float through the gallery and the studio, and it feels really good when people see the birds that I’ve done, or my other work and stuff too, and they say it looks real, which feels really good.”

‘It’s really nice seeing people take pleasure from it.”

Street’s exhibit will run until June 25 at TOSH, with the opening reception taking place Wednesday, May 31 at 2 p.m.