A little help from our friends

Thursday painters find inspiration and support from fellow artists on Thursday afternoons.

Top: back row: Maggie Ferguson-Dumais

Thursday afternoon is a special day. For some of the painters who attend drop in sessions at the Arts and Recreation Centre its their favourite day of the week.

However, for all of them they eagerly await another chance to spend time in their favourite activities which include socializing, supporting, inspiring and of course painting.

Conversations wander from the latest painting technique to what’s planned for supper or the latest antics of their children or grandchildren.

One of Quesnel’s best known painters, Maggie Ferguson-Dumais, began drop-in Thursday painting at the Friendship Centre in 1985 as a way to encourage and reach out to other local artists as well as share in the creative process.

Thursday painting then moved to the Arts and Recreation Centre once Ferguson-Dumais was hired as Quesnel’s first arts coordinator in 1991.

“Thursday painters has always been a welcoming activity to anyone interested in creating art, what new products are out there in the market and for sharing new techniques and ideas,” she said.

“Over the years, artists have come and left our Thursday afternoon sessions, but each has left their mark and a trail of interaction.

“We have no instruction, no leader, no one is in charge, just a bunch of artists getting together.”

The current show in the Quesnel Art Gallery at the Arts and Rec Centre is a snapshot of 11 of those artists’ work under the title of Flights of Fancy which left the artist fairly free to create work from their own perspective.

Each canvas is different as is each artist. They bring a uniquely-their-own interpretation and the show reflects a very diverse and rich arts culture from the community.

Joan Ramsey Harker, former architectural designer but always a passionate painter, pursues her first love from her retirement on the banks of the Fraser River in Alexandria. Joan Bourke spent her career life as an ICU and emergency nurse. However, eight years ago and then into her retirement, she fervently followed her love of photography and passion for painting. Maggie Ferguson-Dumais has been a practicing artist all her life and has parlayed that creative appetite into a career while continuing to pursue her individual style of painting. Cleo Findley, who makes Quesnel her home in spring and fall, joined the Thursday group as she was transitioning from oil to watercolour and has been very happy with that decision. Antoinette Ross has always been a painter and enjoys the simple art of doodling. During her career as a high school academic teacher she continued to explore her creative side. With a background in interior design and upholstery, Christa Krisman has been rediscovering her creative painting side and follow her emotions expressed in abstract, stylized dreamscapes. Megan Long is an office worker by day and a creative titan every chance she gets, drawing inspiration from photographs she taken and strives to create her inspired acrylic artwork. Semi-retired from her graphic design business, Sybille Muschik says painting and print-making are passions in her life. As an instructor, she loves to share her skills and has also participated in many solo and group exhibitions. Zoe Strang, a retired art teacher, works in a variety of media – oil, acrylic, drawing, watercolour and sculpture – believes the distinct flavour of her style is always recognizable. One of the newest members to the Thursday painters is Ellen Facey who left her career as an anthropologist and a university professor to pursue other parts of her complex self, specifically her artistic side. Always an art admirer and collector, Facey has begun her journey through artistic expression but is the first to admit its a work in progress. Guadalupe Fuentes De Josephy is a Mexican painter and writer who has exhibited her work to critical and public acclaim.

For all these artists and others whose work is not exhibited in this show, Thursday afternoon is not a beginning or an ending but rather a moment in time, when those gathered support each other and share what’s new or recently learned. During the summer, Thursday painters use the warm summer afternoon for some outdoor painting at each other homes, admiring the gardens, the unique homes and landscapes of where each artist executes their inspirations.

Sybille Muschik commented Thursday afternoons are a chance for artists to interact with each other given that creating is often a solitary activity.

For Cleo Findley its a chance to bounce ideas and see if they resonate with her fellow artists.

Ellen Facey readily admitted Thursday was the highlight of her week.

“Thursday afternoons are about companionship and inspiration. Artists who share generously of their experience,” she said.

“I come here to find out how to know when to stop murdering a painting.”

The Flight of Fancy show has taken the artists about a year and a half to prepare which most find is ideal in order for them to chose a focus and get producing. The show is sponsored by the South Quesnel Business Association.

Thursday painting is open to anyone interested in exploring their artistic abilities and meeting incredibly interesting, talented and welcoming people.

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