Sunday 26 December 2021

December History Corner by John Lover

Maude Lettice, whose association with the Island Arts Club and its Sketch Club successor spanned some 60 years, can safely be recognized as our longest-serving member, and as one who played a pivotal role in bridging the transition from one version of our club to the next.

Her father Robert, a mid-century emigrant from England, arrived in Victoria in 1862 and established a successful business. The Lettice family first resided in a house in Broughton Street surrounded by orchards, where Maude, one of six siblings, was born in 1879. Later, Robert commissioned a residence, Yaxley, in Faithful Street, which was built in 1916.   
After leaving school Maude studied art under Miss Woodward and John Kyle, and became a friend of Josephine Crease of Pentrelew, a charter member of the Island Arts Club, later the Island Arts and Craft Society (IACS), of which Maude was soon to join and establish the unique record of contributing to every annual exhibition from 1910 to 1941, and again in 1947. 
Her early paintings were created in traditional British watercolour style, with fine detailing and smooth application of colour. However, Maude showed open-mindedness in adapting her style to incorporate more modern techniques, such as those exhibited in the “Modern Room” component of the 1932 exhibition of the IASC. Indeed, according to Emily Carr’s biographer, Hembroff-Schleicher, Maude subsequently developed a more impressionistic style, larger in format and with brighter colours and more freedom in her brushwork. 
After World War II, lessons from Amy Stone of Toronto again persuaded Maude  to change her painting style, only abandoned late in life due to failing eyesight.
She was a long-time member of the executive committee of the IACS, chaired the seminal meeting in 1952 when it was decided that the Arts and Crafts Society be known as the Sketch Club, and was elected President of what had become known as the Victoria Sketch Club in 1958. On the occasion of the Club’s fiftieth birthday in 1959, Lettice was made a life member in appreciation of her service, and the Club presented one of her watercolours, painted at Saxe Point, as a gift to Government House. 
At the Club’s 1971 annual exhibition, there was a display of 14 pictures of the 92-year-old veteran. Maude, a member of both the Vancouver and Victoria art galleries, having exhibited in both, died in Victoria in 1976.
Her paintings have been hung in galleries in Victoria and Vancouver and private exhibitions in Toronto and Halifax.
On a personal note, while researching for the Club’s history book in 2008, I had the good fortune to visit Yaxley the Lettice family home, and meet Maude’s niece, the charming Evelyn Lettice, who was in the process of leaving the house in which she had spent all of her 88 years. 
Evelyn, had spent her entire working life in administration at Esquimalt Dockyard and achieved distinction at a range of sports, including an appointment as a national ice-skating judge.  She was happy to share a host of memories about her aunt and past personalities in the Victoria art scene and was able to attend our History Book launch at Abkhazi Gardens later in the year.  We were able to renew acquaintance sometime later when some of our Club members participated in an art show at Somerset House, the Senior Care Home, where we were joined by Evelyn, now a resident there. 
Evelyn passed away in 2012, and, interestingly, in 2018, Yaxley, the former Lettice family home, was to achieve heritage status as a fine example of an Edwardian era Georgian Classical Revival building.
Maude Lettice, photograph, Collection of Evelyn Lettice
Maude Lettice, Summertime Near Victoria, B.C.
Yaxley, the Lettice family home

Saturday 4 December 2021

November History Corner ~ by John Lover


Recently my daughter-in-law Barbara unearthed some paintings from her mother’s collection by an artist named Emily Sartain, whom I recalled was a distinguished painter of wildflowers and had a connection with our club. It transpired that Barbara’s mother, a keen horticulturist, had once commissioned Sartain to paint a picture for her.

Sartain was born at Goring Heath, Oxfordshire in 1903, and educated in London, England. She demonstrated her gift as a watercolourist at an early age and, concentrating on delicately crafted floral portraits, turned professional in 1931. The following year her career took off when HM Queen Mary, wife of George V, purchased her first exhibited painting – a study of delphiniums and antirrhinums - at an exhibition of the Society of Women Artists- in London. 

After contributing to numerous exhibitions in Britain, she came to Vancouver in May 1939 to visit her sister, and during her visit became fascinated with the wildflowers in the area. Unable to undertake the return journey home due to the outbreak of WW2 in September, she stayed in Canada throughout war, taking Canadian citizenship, and holding exhibitions in British Columbia and Alberta to raise money for war charities. Her success continued in the post-war years. In addition to her exhibitions, Sartain gave radio broadcasts about Canadian wildflowers, in which she took a great personal interest, particularly in those species threatened with extinction. 

As with most well-known artists in the region she was drawn into the orbit of the Island Arts and Crafts Society and contributed to the Society’s 1948 annual exhibition. Sartain maintained her links with the Society, and, in later years, with the Victoria Sketch Club. 

Returning to England in 1951 to complete a pre-war commission, she exhibited freely throughout Britain, and her show in the Coronation Year of 1953 received widespread attention. She held all the medals which the Royal Horticultural Society awarded for flower painting and contributed five pages to the Society’s Royal Autographs Album, which bore the signatures of both British and Swedish royalty. Her flower pictures were published in a variety of forms in both Britain and Canada, 

In 1956 Sartain returned to Canada to continue her studies of the Canadian flora. With her passion for the preservation of wildflowers undimmed, she was on hand to assist the Royal BC Museum in the preservation of the Thetis Park Nature Sanctuary. 

By now renowned internationally for her fine workmanship and careful detail, Coutts Hallmark commissioned her to paint the official flower of each Canadian province as part of the 1968 National Centennial Celebration.

Gifted at embroidery and needlework, Sartain also painted animals and landscapes, and experimented with oils. However, her first love remained the wildflower, of which she produced some 5,000 --mainly commissioned-- watercolour portraits. 

Sartain was of Huguenot descent, related to Chevalier John Sartain, the famous etcher and engraver of Philadelphia, and her style was considered to resemble that of Pierre-Joseph Redoute and other great French botanical painters. 

She died in Victoria in 1990.

Monday 22 November 2021

VSC Artist of the Week ~ Sharon Wareing

This week, Victoria Sketch Club's Artist of the Week is Sharon Wareing.

"I love the west coast beaches, the ocean, the brings a sense of peace to my soul in this crazy world."

Sunday 14 November 2021

VSC Artist of the Week ~ Nirmala Greenwell

Drawing and painting from life is one of my favourite pastimes, any subject matter will do, whether landscapes or people, portraiture, animals, objects, etc. in acrylic oils or watercolour, dry media etc. Visit to see more work.

Sunday 7 November 2021

VSC Artist of the Week ~ Joan Head

VSC member Joan Head currently has an exhibit with the PWD, as part of a 3-month rotating exhibit. "Art is part of my life! Diagnosed with PD in 2019, painting has made me embrace the challenges and my fight to paint well with every stroke."

While this exhibit is limited to PWP members, you can follow Joan's news via her instagram page (@paintingsbyjoanhead) or on Facebook
Here are a A Little series she enjoyed painting on 4" x 12" deep canvases of images from her backyard garden. Joan's preferred background colour is black enabling the colours of the subjects to pop!

Tuesday 2 November 2021

October History Corner ~ by John Lover

History Corner
by John Lover
In 1909 the formation of the Island Arts Club was welcome news for a number of British lower middle class educated women with arts school training, who had emigrated to Vancouver Island around the turn of the 19th century. Amongst this group was Margaret Kitto, who, although like the others a typical traditionalist watercolour painter, was the most professional. She was also destined to make a distinct contribution to this newly formed organization in other significant ways.

One of a family of six children, Margaret Elizabeth Kitto was born in Islington. London, England in 1873, where her father was a book publisher. She studied art before coming to Victoria with her family in 1891.

Kitto was a member of the Sketching Club (1900-1909) in which, along with Josephine Crease, she led sketching parties to local scenes. She was a charter member of the Island Arts Club, later the Island Arts and Crafts Society, serving on the executive committee 1911-1917, as second vice president 1918-1919 and  vice-president in 1925.

From 1922, as a painter and sculptor she operated the Deco Art Studio with fellow artist Lillian Sweeney, producing various art and craft creations for sale. She became well-known for her watercolour paintings of local scenes, reproduced on cards. Kitto, unusually for a local woman artist at this time, was able to secure a modest living from these sales, supplemented by teaching at the Sacred Heart Convent School, the Western Art Studio and evening courses organized by the school board.  

Among her pupils at the Western Art Studio in the early 1920s, was Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher, later to be friend, painting colleague and biographer of Emily Carr. In a 1981 publication Edythe recalled Margaret affectionately as “a warm, out-going, frail person, who was able to pass on her infectious enthusiasm for painting to her many young charges.”   

Although involved in mural painting and decoration, ceramics and textiles, Kitto operated primarily in watercolour, and she was specially known in this media for depictions of Mount Baker and vibrant local scenes of sun-yellow broom. Her work can be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV), the BC Provincial Archives and in archive locations in Quebec and Ontario.

More recently, she featured in a 2016 exhibition, Water + Pigment and Paper, at the AGGV. (at right: The Lions, by Margaret Kitto)

The Society spent fifteen years working on Margaret Kitto’s original and persistent idea of establishing a permanent art gallery in Victoria. Her dedication to this notion seemed to have reached fruition when the Canadian Pacific Railway provided accommodation attached to the Crystal Garden in 1925, sadly the same year as Margaret's passing. She was interred in the Ross Bay Cemetery. 

Sunday 24 October 2021

VSC Artist of the Week ~ Mary Brackenbury

"My style has gone through several changes during my painting career, but over the last few years I’ve settled on a semi-abstracted depiction of more simplistic imagery, using strong lines and bold colours."
My latest show, Flights of Fancy, is a joint show with my daughter, Laura (VSC's social media coordinator & webmaster) and our fifth show together featuring my painting and Laura's photography. Flights of Fancy runs from October 29-November 24.

Saturday 16 October 2021

Artist Feature of the Week - Sharon Wareing

It's baaaaaaack. With fall comes the return of our weekly Artist of the Week Feature. This week we feature Sharon Wareing. Sharon is Parkside Hotel Artist in Residence for October, 2021.

"I love the west coast beaches, the ocean, the brings a sense of peace to my soul in this crazy world."

Thursday 30 September 2021

VSC Exhibit Updates

Government House Update
Our Government House Exhibition will start in November, with our paintings being collected on November 2, at the WPP.  The opening reception is to be held early 2022.. 

VSC 2022 Art Show 
Slated for 21-27 March in the GNS Junior School. More information will be forthcoming on these activities and volunteers sought to help make all these activities come together in the manner the Victoria Sketch Club prefers. 

History Corner ~ September 2021 ~ by John Lover

Our Club records in hardcopy for the inter-war period are very sparse, and we are fortunate that this void has been filled to some degree by a scrapbook, which young people in today’s electronic age might place in the same era as the abacus. 

This volume consists solely of clippings from the two local newspapers of that era, the Daily Colonist and the Victoria Times, which in 1979 would be amalgamated to give us the current Times-Colonist. It was fortunate that the local press at that time gave assiduous attention to the goings-on at the Island Arts and Crafts Society (IACS). Consequently, the scrapbook succeeds in giving us a wealth of detail and a thread of continuity to the life of the IACS during a period which saw the rise and fall of its fortunes.

The custodian of this tome was a Scot by the name of Donald Cameron, a well known and respected member of the Society. Born in Aberdeen in 1866, he studied art at the South Kensington Art School in London and the Scottish Educational Department. He emigrated to Canada, and became an early member of the IACS, contributing to the Society’s annual exhibitions from 1911 to 1936. Cameron also exhibited in Vancouver, staged individual exhibitions, and with other Society members showed at the arts section of the Willows Agricultural Fair. After occupying various executive positions in the Society from the mid-1920s, he served as president from 1933 to 1935.

As an artist, he was adept in both watercolours, oils and pastels. An accomplished sketcher, he was an original member of the Society’s Sketch Club component. Painting in a traditional style, he was credited with a Corot-like deftness in his landscapes, typified by his 1927 Broom in Beacon Hill Park (see below). His work currently features in the collection of the BC Royal Museum Archives. (Left: Beacon Hill Park, ink on paper 12.5 x 18.0 cm)

His labours on the scrapbook are in keeping with his reputation as a conscientious administrator, known for his exhibition cataloguing and recordkeeping of Society activities.  

Cameron resigned from the Society following the end of his second year as President in 1935, and signed off his scrapbook duties with this short note posted in his elegant handwriting:

"This page practically closes my active connection with the Island Arts and Craft Society – having retired at the General Meeting, which was held December 4th, 1935."

Donald Stewart Cameron died in Victoria in 1941.

Sunday 5 September 2021

History Corner ~ August 2021 ~ by John Lover

Several of our present members will remember Peter and Liza Chesshire, two memorable personalities who both passed away during the past decade. Both were active in the club for many years, and each is remembered for specific contributions which in each case would set a tradition.

Liza’s initiative was referred to in a previous History Corner. Born in England, she served in the WRENS (Women's Royal Naval Service) during World War II and was awarded the distinguished British Empire Medal for her work as an ambulance driver during the London Blitz.

She emigrated to British Columbia in the early 1950s, settling first in Vernon and later moving to Victoria to take up a position as Matron at Glenlyon-Norfolk School. As President of our club in 1984, Liza struck a deal with the then Headmaster, an old colleague Keith Walker, whereby the school would be the venue for the club’s annual exhibitions. This is now a tradition which has endured for 37 years, interrupted only by the current Covid pandemic. 

To step back in time for a moment, Liza resigned as Matron at Glenlyon-Norfolk to take up a similar post at Shawnigan Lake Boy’s School, where in 1956 she met and married a teacher there named Peter Chesshire. The couple later moved to Victoria’s Oak Bay, when Peter secured a teaching job at St. Michael’s University School. Liza, after raising a family of two children, became a realtor.

Peter was also born in England, and after service in World War II and with a Cambridge Classics degree, emigrated to Canada. Once settled in Victoria, Peter joined his wife as a member of the club. Being an avid sketcher, with a distinctive and delicate style, he decided to organize a sketching component in the club’s Annual Show. Older club stalwarts will recall that Peter would invite members to contribute sketches by a firm cut-off date. With military precision, he would set up a large table in the old Glenlyon gymnasium, lay out the sketches and place them under a glass cover.

After Peter’s departure, the table and glass procedure was discontinued in favour of mounting sketches on walls or display panels, but, nevertheless, another Chesshire tradition had been established.  

Saturday 31 July 2021

History Corner ~ July 2021 by John Lover

 Our club predecessors have always found the means to contribute to art education in the community over the years. Countless members have provided private instruction, the likes of Margaret Kitto, Ina Uhthoff and Will Menelaws became well-known art teachers at local schools, and Uhthoff founded and ran the Victoria School of Art.

However, our outstanding figure in the field of art education was undoubtedly John Kyle, who spanned half a century as artist, teacher, educator, administrator, author, and illustrator. Thanks to Victoria Art historian Gary Sim, Kyle’s remarkable achievements have been well documented.

John Kyle was born in 1871 to an artistic family in Hawick, Scotland, and he began his career as a watchmaker/jeweler while taking art courses at night school, at which he showed natural talents. Following a period working as a certified art teacher, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London, emerging as an Associate (ARCA) with Honours.

After further art training in Bruges and Paris, he again took up school teaching positions in Britain before emigrating to Canada in 1905, where he was appointed Art Supervisor for City Schools in Vancouver. He also worked as an art illustrator and published a series of articles on sketching. Kyle was a founder member of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts (BCSFA), established in Vancouver in 1908 and contributed to its first annual exhibition the following year. The same year he also joined former BCSFA colleagues Samuel McClure and Emily Carr in the newly created Island Arts Club in Victoria, and later lent his experience in the addition of a craft section to what became the Island Arts and Crafts Society.

In 1913 he was appointed Director of Technical Education for the Province of British Columbia, a post he was to hold for the next quarter of a century, using its scope to start evening art classes in six Vancouver schools and taking art education to every school board throughout the province. Among other of Kyle’s achievements was the development of correspondence course, including reaching out to Nanaimo coal miners and children in isolated lighthouses.   

His advice was sought by the B.C. Art League, formed in 1921 with the twin goals of creating both an art school and an art gallery in Vancouver. He was largely instrumental in allowing the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts  (now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design) to take its first students in 1925.

From 1927 to 1936, he was Director of the Teachers Provincial Summer School in Victoria. In this capacity, having the insight to recognize Emily Carr’s unique gifts, he was the first to sponsor an exhibition of her work for the benefit of teachers from across the province.
It should be noted that Kyle’s range of knowledge and skills embraced a wide range of the crafts, demonstrated in 1931 by his publication, Design for Industrial Arts, which he wrote and illustrated as a resource for teaching woodwork, lettering and metalwork. In his own words, “creative thought and motor activities have been brought into close relationship; aesthetic and constructive problems are correlated with each other and the educational worth of industrial arts has been increased, enriched and dignified.”

Even after his retirement from the position of Technical Director of Education in 1938 at the age of 67, Kyle continued with the teaching of two of the provincial correspondence courses in art which he initiated many years before. The following year he became president of the ailing Island Arts and Crafts Society, and, as what turned out to be the last holder of that office, he unselfishly guided it through the difficult WW2 years until his 80th year in 1951. 

This period also allowed him to resume a painting career denied him during the years of intense teaching and administrative duties. Fittingly, he had one major retrospective solo exhibition of twenty of his oil and watercolour paintings at the new Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in 1957. 

John Kyle was still teaching virtually up to his death in 1958, when a tribute in the Province newspaper described him as “an outstanding educationalist and one of the most influential men in the history of British Columbia Arts and Crafts.”

Friday 2 July 2021

History Corner ~ June 2021 ~ by John Lover


VSC member Nirmala Greenwell recently brought to our attention a book entitled “From Cordwood to Campus.” The author was Ursula Jupp, born in the Scilly Isles and brought here with her parents in the early 1900s. She was to become a well-known writer/historian, who made a big contribution to preserving Saanich history.

This volume offers a fascinating account of the history of Gordon Head. It chronicles the development of the area from its days as a primeval forest, through the time when its fertile soil was cultivated to yield phenomenal flower and strawberry growing, to the era of World War II with the construction of an Army Camp and the subsequent sale of this site to establish the nucleus of the present University of Victoria.

Nirmala noticed the book was illustrated by an artist named Mary Allard, and wondered if Mary had any association with our club. Indeed, she had, and Mary is still remembered by a few of our long-time members. A notable reminiscence comes from Kathleen Metcalfe, who, as a new member having inherited the role of treasurer, was firmly told by a stern Mary that she was “too young for the job.”

Mary was born in Scotland in 1907 and was a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan. Remembered as an influential figure in our club and as a great organizer and scribe, she became interested in our history and the records show that she produced some of the earliest pamphlets on the subject. Her obituary shows her to have been a lady of wide cultural interests and activities.

Apart from her work as a book illustrator, Mary became recognized as a very able and talented watercolour artist, noted for her paintings of sea and landscapes, and scenes featuring lonely indigenous totems. The attached illustration features orcas in the Strait of Juan da Fuca. It is dominated primarily by white and blue with the orcas standing out through the stark black and white of their bodies. It also suggests that from her residence in Rithet Street, close to the waterfront in James Bay, she was able to enjoy the views across the Strait to the Olympic Mountains. 

Mary attended an annual paint-out at Cowichan as recently as 1984, finally resigning from the Club in 1990. She passed away in Victoria in 1995, at the age of 88 years. 

Sunday 20 June 2021

VSC Artist of the Week ~ Myra Baynton

Travel is what excites me...the people, the sights, the sounds, the food! Wherever I go I have my sketchbook, pens and watercolors with me. A few years ago, in Myanmar, I was inspired by this grandmother and grandson on their way to market and wanted to capture this universal relationship.

See more of Myra's work here:

Saturday 12 June 2021

Artist of the Week ~ Mike Pipes

Mike Pipes began painting in 2018 in retirement after a gap of 60 years from High School days. 

Over the past 3 years, Mike has worked primarily in watercolour. In September 2020 he became a member of the VSC and Treasurer in 2021.             

Most of the paintings in ½ sheet framed to 24” x 18"
Clockwise from top left: 

  • Montague Marine Park on Galliano
  • Cattle Point
  • Playfair Park
  • Mount Douglas Park

Sunday 6 June 2021

Artist of the Week ~ Joan Head

This week we are featuring Joan Head. Find her on Instagram @paintingsbyjoanhead

"These Fluevog shoes, designed in honour of Dr. Bonnie Henry, continue to guide us through the pandemic in sight of brighter days.
Thank you Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s Chief Provincial Health Officer, for being kind and calm and keeping us safe!
I find myself immersed in my palette when I am painting a meaningful subject. This is my definition of inspiration.
This painting was completed on June 5th, 2020.. "

Friday 4 June 2021

VSC History Corner ~ May 2021


History Corner
by John Lover

By the mid 1930s there were signs that the Island Arts and Craft Society was losing some of the vigour of its golden years of the 1920s. The excitement of the 1932 Modern Room venture now seemed a distant memory with the stars of that “modernist” surge – Carr, Maynard, Shadbolt, Hembroff and Uhthoff – having now moved in other directions. Furthermore, there was a vacuum in leadership now that many of the pioneers of the organization like Gore, Maclure and Pemberton had passed away.
More evidence of a crisis came in 1937 when a special meeting was convened to confront the fact that the Society was unable to meet the cost of maintaining its clubrooms. A motion for the organization to continue was passed, albeit on a split vote, and the stalwart Josephine Crease was tasked with seeking out someone of the stature needed to lead the quest for revitalization. Her choice fell on the Reverend Robert Connell, a public figure in his own right, no stranger to the Society and, due to various twists of fate, now readily available for a new mission.   
Connell was born of Scottish parents in Liverpool, England, in 1871, and came to Canada at the age of 17. After work in various short-term jobs, he was ordained into the priesthood in 1895 and, following his marriage, moved to Victoria in 1901 as a vicar, thence retiring from the pulpit in 1923.

Connell, an accomplished artist, enjoyed a wide range of interests and displayed a breadth of talents. He taught botany at Victoria High School and he taught art at St. Michael’s private boys’ school. He had already become associated with the Island Arts and Crafts Society, having exhibited for the first time in the 1913 annual show.
Subsequently, he turned to a career in politics, joining the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the predecessor of the New Democratic Party. In 1932, after successfully running for the provincial legislature, he became leader of the Official Opposition in the BC Legislature until 1937. His ambition was to bring Christian principle into politics, but at a time of internal party strife, he was displaced by its militant faction who had become impatient at Connell's desire to bring about reform via constitutional rather than revolutionary means. Subsequently, standing as a candidate for a splinter party he failed to be re-elected.  
At this point, he was sought out by Josephine Crease, Honorary President of the now ailing Island Arts and Crafts Society, to lead the Society and assist in its reorganization.

During the tenure of his presidency, 1937-1939, Connell was able to reactivate his painting skills, and his work was on show at the Society’s exhibition in 1937 and 1938. His depiction of Christ Church Cathedral is in the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
Self-educated, he was a prolific reader and writer, contributing weekly columns on nature and geology to the Daily Times in the 1920s and 1930s and subsequently to the Daily Colonist until the late 1940s.  

The Reverend Robert Connell began the last phase of his career by returning to the spiritual world, and in 1940 became Archdeacon of Comox on Vancouver Island. He died in 1957.

IIlustrations:  Christ Church Cathedral, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, K03280

Saturday 29 May 2021

VSC Artist of the Week ~ Amy Nohales-Kezes

 This week we feature Amy Nohales-Kezes.

Amy writes, "Nature has always been my main source of inspiration. Through the years, my art has evolved into a more introspective expression and hope it will never stop evolving. My goals are to go beyond what can be seen through the camera and express how that moment in time made me feel. There is nothing I love more than being in front of a camera with rich colourful paints next to me and lots of ideas pouring into my brain."

Friday 21 May 2021

VSC Artist of the Week ~ Victor Lotto

 It's Friday and that means it is time to feature a VSC member in our new reoccurring piece: Artist of the Week!

Victor Lotto, an Oak Bay artist, has been taking advantage of the May blooms of camas in Uplands Park. This oil sketch (12x16”) was painted on May 8, 2021. Other examples of Vic’s work is at

Wednesday 12 May 2021

VSC Artist of the Week Feature Call Out

Announcing the VSC Artist of the Week Feature beginning the week of May 16.

Interested VSC members can send an email with 1-2 images, promotional information for social media (Instagram accounts, websites) as well as relevant information for any upcoming shows. Put Artist of the Week in the subject line.
The social media coordinator will rotate through submissions on Facebook and Instagram once a week. If you DO have an upcoming show, she will try to schedule your feature week with the shows opening.
Questions and submissions to

Please put Artist of the Week in the subject line so your email can get to the right place.

Sunday 2 May 2021

History Corner ~ April 2021 ~ by John Lover

One of the many joys of our Centennial Year in 2009 was its promotion of a widespread spark of interest from the past. Just one example was a query from Michael Checkley in England, asking if we had any information about his great-uncle Arthur Checkley, an artist who he knew had emigrated to Canada early in the last century. Indeed, we were able to let him know that Arthur Checkley had played a significant role in our Club’s history. 
Born in Handsworth, Staffs in 1873, he was a product of the Birmingham School of Art and arrived in Canada in 1913. It was testament to a reputation as an artist in eastern and central Canada that in 1928 the Island Arts and Craft Society (IACS) arranged a special social event to welcome him and his wife as they came to make their home in Victoria. They were guests of honour for the occasion, and several Checkley paintings were put on show. He first exhibited at the Society’s Annual Show in that same year, and doing so frequently until 1940, and he was soon elected to the Executive Committee.
In 1929 he mounted a solo exhibition in Victoria depicting Vancouver Island, Canadian Rockies and Saskatchewan scenery, and drew the following comments from a critic in the Daily Colonist: “(his) art has a strong interpretative quality, giving distinction to each thing, the artist having the advantage of a style which is mobile, versatile and facile. His work is not photographic, it being more truthful in that it conveys the feeling of nature more than it emphasizes the absolute dimensions of nature.  He uses whatever medium seems best suited to his subject, handling water colours or palette knife as occasion demands.”
Along with other artists, including fellow IACS members, he was signatory in 1932 to an agreement to boycott the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.  The complaint was that the Gallery in its selection of paintings was favouring a chosen few artists at the expense of the great majority of Canadian practitioners.
He is remembered not only as a notable artist – he went on to annually exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery from 1933 to 1941 -- but as an art educator and organizer. For some years he directed the art section of the annual Willows Fair in Oak Bay, Victoria, and, in this capacity, he gave Emily Carr a whole section of the 1933 exhibition to herself. This proved to be the last year in which Emily exhibited at the Fair. 
On his death in Victoria in 1964, it was reported that Checkley had “retired” from his profession of “Artist Painter” in 1940. His work currently features in the collections of the Art Gallery of Victoria, the BC Royal Museum Archives and the Maltwood Gallery of the University of Victoria.
Camosun College with Normal School and Tolmie Electric Traffic Shelter.
2) Landscape

Monday 12 April 2021

YinMn ~ A new blue pigment


Fun Art Stuff

A new blue pigment

YInMn, an intriguingly cryptically named pigment, has amazed and excited industrialists and artists since it was accidentally discovered in 2009. A fascinating account describes how YInMn, (pronounced Yin-min), a blue pigment was accidentally created by chemists at Oregon State University, when Yttrium, Indium and Manganese were mixed with oxygen, producing an inorganic brilliant blue compound. Also identified as Oregon Blue or Mas Blue, after the name of the lead USU chemist, Mas Subramanian, YinMn is reported to be the first new blue colour discovered in two hundred years. Because the colour is durable and stable, even at extremely high heat, it was first used industrially for paints and coatings, and more recently has been used commercially. The colour inspired a new Crayola Crayon called “bluetiful,” as well as added to artists’ palettes a rich, intense, vibrant and brilliant new shade, in colour between Ultramarine and Cobalt Blue.

Making Blue Paint
Blue pigments were originally made from minerals such as lapis lazuli, cobalt and azurite while dyes were made from plants, such as woad in Europe and indigo in Asia and Africa. To make blue paint lapis lazuli and azurite were crushed, then ground into powder, then mixed with a quick-drying agent such as egg yolk to make tempera paints, or with slow-drying oil, like linseed oil, added to make oil paints. Watercolour was made by adding gum arabic and other additives to pigment. Before commercial manufacture of paints artists made their own paints in their own workshops, grinding their own pigments and mixing them with additives. Today most blue pigments and dyes are made by a chemical process in commercial laboratories.

Of concern to users, blue pigments unfortunately have detrimental health and environmental effects and are not durable. We have heard of the health declines and poisoning of artists such as Turner and Van Gogh purportedly caused or exacerbated by their paints. Cobalt Blue, Prussian Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Azurite all pose some toxic risks for painters and many artists wear protective gloves while painting, particularly when using these blues. By contrast, YInMn Blue is chemically stable, does not fade and is non-toxic.
Availability and Cost
YInMn pigment remains extremely rare and very expensive and most artists’ paint companies have been discouraged from including it in their product lines; one supplier apparently prices a 40 ml tube of the blue paint at $179.40. Golden, Kremer and Shepherd paint labs are developing YInMn product lines. Golden Artists Colours is offering heavy body acrylic, oil and watercolour paint made with YInMn pigment. The colour is not yet available but one can join a notification list by contacting the Golden Customer Service Team and Custom Lab.  

Unfortunately, the stunning and appealing colour has been seized by the black market who use illicit pigment to produce copy-cat paints, milling the dry pigment into an acrylic emulsion. Be wary of low-priced paints claiming to be YInMn Blue, or a trade name that has the ring of the pigment name, perhaps offered through arts and craft on-line or discount suppliers.

YInMn Pigment Blue Bird

Connecticut artist Michael Rothman produced his own blue paint by hand-milling dry YInMn pigment in an emulsion resin and painted this imagined 47 million-year-old bird believed to have been the oldest to have blue plumage. The colour is astoundingly intense and perhaps serves as an inspiration for pictures we may one day produce when this paint is ours to use, too.

More Colours to Come
Following the surprise and success of YInMn Blue chemists have expanded their research and have synthesized a range of new pigments including oranges, purples, turquoise’s and greens. Elusive so far is red, an ongoing challenge to create.
-- researched and submitted by Janice Graham