Colourful Ukrainian art on tap

Latest show at Qualicum Art Supply features Parksville artist Fay St. Marie

Parksville artist Fay St. Marie is proud of her Babushka Series of paintings which honor the widows of the Ukraine.

Parksville artist Fay St. Marie is proud of her Babushka Series of paintings which honor the widows of the Ukraine.

If you are looking for something to brighten up the grey winter days, a visit to The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply could be the answer to injecting some colour into your world.

The walls at the Qualicum Beach art gallery are bursting with eye candy as eight artists have their work on display including Faye St. Marie.

The artist, who now calls Parksville her home, has her Babushka Series hanging on the gallery walls and although Ukrainian Christmas has come and gone, the exhibition is a wonderful homage to anyone with Ukrainian heritage.

St. Marie said she was inspired to paint the widows who live in the countryside of the Ukraine after she went on a two week mission to Nikopol and its nearby villages in the fall of 2008. She went with a group of 11 women as part of the Hungry for Life’s Ukraine Mission to help widows and orphans in the area.

“When I returned home I felt compelled to paint the babushka widows as they walked away with their precious bags of food and clothing.  I want these paintings to communicate the way of life for these Ukrainian widows, “ she stated.

St. Marie grew up in Saskatchewan which has a large Ukrainian population. Her mother is Ukrainian and she said it was amazing traveling to a part of the world where her ancestors came from.

“It meant so much to me. I felt like I was back in the Prairies. I can see why Ukrainians moved to the Prairies. The Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe.”

She said she wants her series on the babushkas to honour the widows who struggle to get by.  To that end she has been giving back a percentage of her sales to the Hungry for Life’s Ukrainian Mission to further help the widows.

The Babushka Series was a huge hit when it was shown at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada in Saskatoon from Sept. 2010 to Jan. 2011. Thirteen paintings sold and the museum bought a painting called Laundry Time for their collection. St. Marie said that five-month exhibition was so successful she had to paint more so she would have enough for the current display in Qualicum Beach.

“It is amazing because usually when I am painting a series I get tired of it but because I have such a passion for the babushkas I have more I want to paint,” she agreed.

She said at a family reunion last year in Saskatchewan, she painted a Ukrainian history piece for a silent auction and said it made quite an impact.

“Everyone was excited about the piece.”

A new subject for St. Marie is her Ukrainian dancers which she would like to do more of in the future.

“The dancers are recent. I started them a couple of months ago. I have always been fascinated by the dancers movement.”

St. Marie’s acrylic and mixed media paintings have been displayed in a few galleries on Vancouver Island and she admitted the walls of her Parksville house are covered.

She said she was always drawing and sketching as a child and initially when she went to university she wanted a fine arts degree but she knew she couldn’t make a living at it so she went into nursing.

You can check out her unique paintings currently on display at The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply at 206 First Avenue West in Qualicum Beach.