Three artists, three perspectives, three sets of images in latest Quesnel Art Gallery show

Top: Greta Smith

Although they chose a common theme “Flight” the three artists showing this month at the Quesnel Art Gallery lived up to the show name Divergence.

Elizabeth Schmit, Patricia Schmit and M.J. Greta Smith followed their own inspiration and created very different interpretations of the theme.

“Truly an eclectic collaboration,” they said.

Each artist works in their own environment, quite a distance from each other, without collaboration and each chooses their own medium.

The matriarch in the group, Elizabeth (Pat’s mother) admitted she’s been an artist most of her life.

“At 10 years old I was given a small paint set and that began my love of oil painting,” she said.

“I’m very traditional and ever msince I was

a small child I’ve

admired oil paintings.”

She added with oils she can take her time whereas other media dries too quickly.

“I’ve tried others but I always come back to oils.”

Pat also confessed to drawing all her life but became more serious about art after moving to Quesnel 31 years ago.

“I work mostly in acrylics but share a passion for mixed media with Greta,” she said.

“Acryllic is a 21st century medium, it’s plastic which allows for things to be added to change its appearance. But best of all you can paint right over it should you need to.”

For the third member of this show, Greta, a family friend, came to the creative world after her family was grown.

“Elizabeth and Pat were both inspirational and offered me a shared artistic experience,” she said.

Each artist has taken Island Mountain Art courses in their preferred media. Greta chooses mixed media, acrylic and encaustic.

Encaustic is a wax based paint (composed of beeswax, resin and pigment) which is kept molten on a heated palette. It is applied to an absorbent surface and then reheated in order to fuse the paint.

“This is a very ancient art form and has enjoyed a resurgence in the last 10 years,” Greta said.

“You can do many things with it. The smell, the touch, translucency – it’s exciting to melt colour and move it around. Encaustic is incredibly exciting and frustrating, but always challenging.”

Each artist drew their inspiration from different sources and different parts of the country. Elizabeth lives on the prairies, Greta on Bowen Island and Pat right here in Quesnel.

“I love landscapes,” Elizabeth said.

“When I’m painting, I can step into my work. It can be an ugly day and the painting takes me anywhere I like.”

Although a lawyer by profession, Pat admits her creative inspirations are somewhat random.

“I’m a gadfly,” she said.

“I need to exercise both sides of my brain. Painting is incredibly intuitive and abstract, whereas being a lawyer is ordered and structured. I’m seeing the world from a different perspective when I’m painting.”

For Greta the process is what inspires her.

“It’s about creating something that pleases

me from nothing,” she said.

“Some of my work is about memory – places I’ve been and people I’ve met.”

This show grew from a casual collaboration where Elizabeth suggested they should have a show. Greta and Pat had already created a project based on a dinner for 10 where they could invite anyone they wanted and painted that image.

However, the proposed show would include four pieces from the three painters all depicting flight in any form.

The show would be fleshed out with other work by the artists.

That was the extent of their defining the show, they never consulted each other during the creative process.

The show is an exciting display of very divergent work, with the core flight pieces providing a glimpse into each artist’s style and medium.

The three artists encourage the public to drop by and experience the show from a viewer perspective and hopefully be inspired to drop by for a second look before the end of August.

Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Divergence is sponsored by Dunkley Lumber.