Qualicum Beach artist Faith Love-Robertson stands with some of her paintings now on display at the Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply at 206 First Ave. West in Qualicum Beach. — Adam Kveton Photo

How memory can distillate photos into art

Artist brings emphasis on shadow to Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply

While an emphasis on the bright and colourful is not hard to find in the art of the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, Qualicum Beach painter Faith Love-Robertson brings out the shadows as well.

Love-Robertson has recent work ranging from landscapes to still lifes now hanging at The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply.

A designer with a degree from Mount Royal college in Calgary with a passion for watercolours, her work now on display is in oil and pastel.

In describing her style, Love-Robertson said history of art classes while at college left their mark, with artists like Rembrandt, the Group of Seven and Walter J. Phillips being inspirations.

“Rembrandt was one of the artists that just blew me away,” she said.

That’s not hard to see in Love-Roberston’s recreation of shadow and soft light in paintings like the pair depicting a wetland from the mainland.

“I try to observe the quality of light,” she said of her work. “And I think that the shadow is as important as the light.”

Shadows can lend pathways from which the viewer can be directed to the important parts of the painting, she said, and they can also be used to manipulate shapes.

One painting of a couple at the beach in Qualicum captures that summery, bright quality of light more typical to some Island painters.

“It’s funny, because my cousin, who’s known me a long time, she looks at my work, and I had a piece somewhat like that, like a really bright summer light, and she goes, ‘Oh, are we feeling better now?’” said Love-Roberston with a laugh.

But shadowy paintings are no indication of her mood, she said.

In fact, to create many of her paintings, Love-Robertson said some details have to be left in the shadows, or forgotten altogether.

When doing landscape work, Love-Robertson’s process often includes taking many photographs to use as reference material.

Sometimes a handful of these photos combined to serve as the basis for a painting, while other shots are left alone for quite some time.

“It might be a year before I do anything with them, and I’ve got this image in my head — ‘I should look up that reference material and paint that painting,’ and I know what I’ve got in my head, and then I look at the photograph, and it’s nothing like what’s in my head,” she said with a smile.

“And I’m thinking, ‘OK, I’m not going to do the photograph. I’m just going to do what’s in my head, because you were inspired by something that you saw. And when the camera gives you back what you saw, it’s not what’s in your mind’s eye, and you know what’s in your mind’s eye is better, if you have that experience enough times, you know that the photograph should go.”

What was important about the image might be the quality of light in just one area, or how someone was leaning, or a look or expression, and what you’ve remembered might not be quite like what you saw or what the camera saw, but what matters is the painting you make, said Love-Robertson.

“Anybody who doesn’t see the photograph isn’t going to know that it isn’t right. So it frees you up to be more of an expressionist with you pigment or with your medium than if you’re just sitting there with this image right in front of you.”

Love-Robertson’s work can be seen at The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply at 206 First Ave. West in Qualicum Beach.

For more info on her, go to faithloverobertson.com.

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