Errington artist Dan Gray is drawn to cars

Father's Day Show and Shine in Qualicum Beach to be celebrated on canvass

Look for Errington artist Dan Gray on the streets of Qualicum Beach Father’s Day where he will be painting some of his favourite         subjects … classic vehicles.  His pastel of a vintage fire truck in Errington will be raffled off in the fall.

Look for Errington artist Dan Gray on the streets of Qualicum Beach Father’s Day where he will be painting some of his favourite subjects … classic vehicles. His pastel of a vintage fire truck in Errington will be raffled off in the fall.

While automotive fans will be out and about this weekend appreciating all the vintage vehicles in Oceanside for the annual Father’s Day Show ‘n Shine in downtown Qualicum Beach, there will be one car lover among the crowds of people, demonstrating his appreciation for the classics by recreating them in his own style on canvas.

Errington artist Dan Gray’s pastels are impressions of the moment.

His work has won the artist many awards and his pieces are admired by many in the world of pastels.

Gray’s work is always plein air.  The French expression means “in the open air”  and is used to describe the act of painting outdoors.

Gray’s studio is the outdoors and his subjects are what catches his attention whether he is on the shore doing landscapes, in the bush where he has discovered an abandoned vehicle, or on a crowded street filled with people.

Every year Gray finds a location in the heart of Qualicum Beach on Father’s Day where he feeds his appetite for old vehicles and quenches his thirst for depicting life as it happens on canvas.

Gray can often be found on the side of a country road painting an old abandoned beater. He said each car has a story and by painting it with pastels, it is his way of telling the story.

“I am trying to tell a story … it’s my emotional response to the car. When I am out there with a pastel in my hand it is fresh. Just to be out there I am alive.  It’s a story that I enjoy telling. I really enjoy the ones I find by the shore, but waterfront is so expensive now and they all are disappearing.

“No one leaves old things by the shore anymore,” he pointed out, but added, “There is one in Nanoose by Red Gap, and there is a deer trail right through it … in one door and out the other.  I am painting it in my mind. I have not done it yet, but it is on my list.”

Gray admitted he has always been into cars.

“I got top marks in automotive class sucking up to my teacher because he raced Porsches. My tour de force in high school was auto shop. I thought after I got out of school I would go to work and be a race car mechanic or driver. I got a job drafting instead,” he recalled.

Ever since graduating from high school, Gray has made a living using his hands and his eyes and making art in one way or another.

In 1964 and 65, he was making paintings of racing cars and one of his first exhibits was of racing cars in coffee houses.

“I have drawn cars and sketched them ever since. I enjoy drawing them and finding them in different places. The more mysterious the better.  I am a used car painter,” he declared.

Gray is also fond of old motorcycles.  He used to race them and his dad rode an Indian Chief back in the ‘30s, so he has a long connection with bikes.

He’s particularly fond of one that is hidden in the forest in Nanoose Bay.  He said his wife Sandy discovered the old Honda Scrambler last year while he was on the shore painting off Oakleaf Drive.

“Sandy said come into the forest I have something you’d like to see. I went in and there was this motorcycle with the bush growing all around it.  The best part about it is it has a rototiller motor.  Its got a story … it’s old.”

His theory about the bike is that some kids blew up the motor and then probably took apart their dad’s rototiller that he only used once a year.

“So they got the Briggs and Stratton motor out of it, stuck it in the motorcycle and drove it off into the bush and left it there. The first time I drew it, it was a stormy day and you could see the waves crashing. The eagles were flying around defending their territory and branches were snapping. It was tremendous to find this old vehicle. I went back again and painted it a little more intimately,” he related.

Gray entered that painting in a motorcycle show last year in Coos Bay, Oregon, where it won an award.

“It beat out all the American choppers and the flashy flags.”

Painting outside with the wind and the weather, standing up and taking in the environment around him is how Gray spends his days, using bits and pieces of it to tell a story.

“Painting for me is participating in life.  If I am painting at the market, I really am participating in the market.  If I go to the drag races to paint…I am participating in that.  Working while life is flowing around you is what rewards me.  You never know what opportunity is going to present itself.”

No matter what the weather brings, Gray loves to paint where he lives, even in the winter.

“There is no one else out there…when I am in the wind and the rain with 18 layers on…it is exciting,” he acknowledged.

Although Gray has picked up many awards for his work and it is how he makes a living, the recognition is flattering but he stated that is not what motivates him to paint.

He said when someone hangs one of his paintings up on their wall and builds memories around it, that is when his paintings are at their very best.

“It’s not about having a great painting…but to produce something that will last and provide a little trigger inside some young persons life.”

Gray belongs to the Pastel Society of Canada and was awarded the Silver Pastel Plate, Plaque of Distinction, the inaugural award for Excellence and Dedication to Pastel by the society.

Locally he was instrumental in starting the annual Grand Prix d’Art held every July in Qualicum Beach.  The event brings plein air artists together from all over to paint the sites in a three hour marathon.


Just Posted

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased in Parksville

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Map of the site of a proposed 60-unit building project in French Creek. (RDN map)
Legal counsel wants board to award development permit for French Creek project

Issue is on agenda for RDN board meeting on June 22

The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue Society has outgrown its home at the Coombs-Hilliers Fire Department and will soon move to its new operations hall at the Qualicum Beach Airport. (PQB News file photo)
Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read