Parksville artist needs big canvas to tell story

Gillian Beales’ art is big on colour and her work is now on display at The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply

Her portraits may be large, but local artist Gillian Beales said she needs a big canvas to tell her story.

“Yes I always paint big,” she admitted, and observed they are getting bigger and bigger.

“The biggest is 5×7 … that’s the biggest size that will fit in my car,” she confessed.

Beales said it takes her a long time to create a piece of art but it’s not because she has so much space to fill.

“I am a slow worker.  I have to think my way through because they have a whole bunch of layers in them.  I have to think about the layers and whats underneath them.”

Beales has an interior design and drafting background.  Her passion has always been painting and drawing but it has only been over the past seven years that she has been painting seriously.

“I do art full time and love it.  I started seven years ago when we moved out from Calgary. I decided I would pursue my first love. It’s nice to be able to throw yourself at something wholeheartedly,” she exclaimed.

Beales paints close-up views of landscapes and enjoys finding unique perspectives outdoors.

“What I am trying to capture, especially in nature and in trees, is the little jewels that you see when you look around … not the landscape. It is the sort of thing you might pass by during the day and look down and see a little jewel, that’s what interests me.”

She said she wants her work to be a bit abstract, so the observer has to do a bit of work.

“I really like spaces between things, so if you have a boat next to a dock what will attract me is the reflections in the water between them,” she said, adding she also loves the way light comes through the trees and the presence of a spirit, something she has only experienced on Vancouver Island.

Although she started out as a watercolorist she said today she likes the instant gratification of acrylic.

“I like acrylic. I mix it with medium and put layers on layers to achieve the effect.”

She said she enjoys painting boats especially ones that tell a story.

One of Beales boats on display at an exhibition at the Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply is called The Resurection.  She noticed the boat at Independent Shipyards in Coombs and was instantly drawn to it.

“It is in sad repair and I tried to capture that with the colours. I chose the light of late afternoon, just as the boat is in its late afternoon of its life.

“The story is … the person who owned the boat had a dream to renovate and restore it, but he isn’t able to complete it. I love the story that goes with it and I love all the layers of decay that tell the story and give the history,” she explained.

Beales is also fond of chickens and decided to paint some of them after spending some time in the hen yard.

“Chickens are so joyful. I am not a farm girl … I am a city girl. I went to a place on Grafton where I buy eggs from and I hung out with the chickens for a couple of hours and they have all these little calls and I just fell in love with them,” she grinned.

If you would like to see some of the pieces Beales has painted her work is currently on display at The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply at 206 First Avenue West in Qualicum Beach.

Her art can be viewed on-line at


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