Work by Nanaimo artist Ludek Sotola, seen here, is up at TOSH, where Sotola’s work makes up one of three exhibits at TOSH until May 5. — Submitted by Ludek Sotola

Prolific painters show work in Qualicum Beach

Exhibitions by Ludek Sotola, Denise MacNeill continue until May 5

Two prolific painters are showing a variety of new work inspired by Island scenes in their two exhibitions at TOSH, running until May 5.

Ludek Sotola, primarily a watercolour artist, is showing 20 paintings (almost all created this year) showcasing his speedy style of painting, with which he tries to capture the light and the mood of marine scenes, landscapes, people and more.

Denise MacNeill is showing paintings she created during a challenge she set for herself: to paint 50 paintings within a six-month period.

“I enjoyed going to my studio daily,” said MacNeill in an email. “It became my job.”

For Sotola, painting with speed is a way to let himself be more expressive, but also to allow the watercolours to do what they will.

“The less I think about it, the less I try to control it, and usually the better the painting turns out,” he said. “I think watercolour wants to do its own thing, and if I try to pretend that I’m actually the boss here, then it very quickly shows me who is actually boss, and everything goes down hill.”

Sotola has been reviving his love of drawing and painting from younger days for the past seven years now. Based in Nanaimo, he attends several outdoor painting groups, and likes to finish paintings in about half an hour or 45 minutes.

Sotola said he works with watercolour for its ability to let him capture moments quickly, and because you never really know what you’ll get.

“With watercolour you can make very quick sketches, which is what I enjoy doing, just kind of capturing the image or the moment at the time. If I worked with acrylics, then it would just be a much, much slower process and I would just not be able to capture that instantaneous image of what I wanted to catch.”

What he’s looking for in an image is large shapes that make up the basis of the image, and something of interest in the quality of light, in the shadows or a play of colour. The subject matter can be just about anything, he said.

Sotola said he hopes people who see his work are able to relate to it at an emotional or personal level, and that something about the work rings true to them.

This is Sotola’s first exhibit at TOSH.


MacNeill’s self challenge took place over the winter months, and helped her to learn more about her own style and preferences, she said.

For inspiration, MacNeill walked trails in the Nanaimo area where she’s based, “walking the same local trails and paths over 5,000 times,” she said. The walks nonetheless provided inspiration, she said.

“Natures willingness to be transformed makes it the perfect subject for exploring with its endless possibilities,” said MacNeill, noting that a grouping of complimentary colours, clumps of twigs or branches, or a twist in a tree can be the seed of an idea for a new painting.

MacNeill also looks to reference materials for further inspiration, and puts together a “big sketch” to get a loose and expressive idea of the direction of the painting and the essence of the subject.

The exhibits by both MacNeill and Sotola continue at TOSH (The Old School House Arts Centre at 122 Fern Rd. West in Qualicum Beach) until May 5.

For more info about TOSH, go to

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