New paintings by Patt Scrivener, with a focus on figures, are showing at the MAC for October. — Courtesy Patt Scrivener

People appear in juxtaPOSE art show in Parksville

Intuitive painter describes her focus on figures

An artist with a focus on abstraction and colour has gone beyond that mandate for her latest show, juxtaPOSE.

Moving from her more typically bright, whimsical work which often includes the shapes of people, intuitive painter Patt Scrivener tried out reference material and working without colour for some of her pieces now showing at the MAC for October.

While the approximately 30 pieces that make up the show depict a range of methods and media, what brings it all together is focus on the human figure.

For Scrivener, it’s an interest that’s come about organically.

“I paint mainly intuitively,” she said, meaning she doesn’t begin a painting with a specific idea in mind. Instead, she covers her canvas with a range of colour, pouring and scraping in textures and patterns, and waits to see what images appear.

“My original figures first started coming to me when I was painting at outdoor markets and there were lots of people around, so I started to see figures in my work when I was just randomly working on my canvas,” Scrivener said. “That’s how it all got started. Since that time, I’ve gotten more interested in the figure as as gestural drawing… kind of broaching it from the back and doing my own whimsical stuff first and becoming more interested in actually learning more about the figure and the proportions (of the figure).”

That interest has led to an experimentation process, with Scrivener first working to set her intention to see figures before starting her painting.

“That might start as a head, it might start as an arm… I might not see the whole figure, but I’ll see part of it, and then I’ll start seeing the story within the figure.

“To me that’s always exciting. That is my process, mainly, and that’s how I like to paint.”

Her paintings done in this way often have figures with exaggerated features — heads that are extra big, or legs extra long. But, as her interest in the figures themselves grew, she began to work with reference images to have a better idea of the realistic proportions of the human body.

With these paintings, she’d once again start with a background, some of them created by cleaning brushes out on paper, said Scrivener.

Then she’d juxtapose the figure — an outline based on her reference — on top. Going even further, the artist also eschewed her typically colourful canvases to do some greyscale work.

“Sometimes colour can be quite a crutch in art,” she said. “You’re not able to really truly see the values (from light to dark) as easily.”

“I’m still a colourist, though,” she noted with a laugh. “I still do enjoy my colour, but I think sometimes less is more, and you can learn a lot by just sticking with black and white monochromatic.”

Scrivener’s juxtaPOSE exhibit runs from Oct. 3-28 at the MAC in Parksville. For more info, go to

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