Arts and Craft Show hits Sidney this weekend

From beginners to seasoned professionals, all artists welcomed.

Kit McDonald’s Another Age is one of her latest paintings

Art lovers on the Peninsula are in for a treat next weekend with a veritable smorgasbord of creativity coming to the Mary Winspear Centre April 25 and 26. With more than 500 works of art from painters, sculptors, jewellers and more, the 62nd annual Saanich Peninsula Arts and Crafts (SPAC) Society show and sale is bound to enthrall everyone who walks through the doors.

“I think it’s an amazing variety of art and variety of talent,” says show co-ordinator Donna Jean. “We’ve got internationally known artists as well as emerging artists. If you’re a member of (the society), you can show your work.” That inclusivity lends itself to a nurturing environment, she adds.

And a fun environment too, says returning artist Kit McDonald.

“It’s exciting, because it’s such a beautiful show. It’s fun just being there and talking to people and hearing their comments,” she says. “There’s an energy about the whole thing; it’s a very positive and happy atmosphere.”

McDonald has expressed her artistic talents with a number of mediums over the years since she first joined up with SPAC in the mid-1970s. Watercolour, pottery, mixed media, and more recently, pure acrylic paintings – her contribution to the art show next weekend.

“I went on a road trip this winter,” she says. “I normally work in collage and mixed media, but I got really excited to paint with just acrylic.”

Several of her newer pieces have been inspired by “mist that comes off the snow when the sun comes out,” says McDonald.

“I never realized how much colour there is in a winter landscape. It was just really inspiring.”

“When you’re driving, you can’t stop and take pictures,” she says with a laugh. “So I just tried to capture what was left in my mind’s eye.”

Rarely painting from pictures, McDonald tries instead to grasp what it is about a scene that captures her attention, and adding a dash of her own impressions and artistic license, transfers it to the canvas.

She’s looking forward to entering the pieces into SPAC’s annual show, in part to glean inspiration from her fellow artists.

“I think it’s stimulating, in terms of the creative juices, and it’s always great to hear what the public think about things too. You can get a sense if something is really working.”

Fellow artist Janet Remmer agrees.

“It’s a great opportunity to display your work and have other people look at it or buy it. It gives you a lift to know your work is being looked at, and just to be part of the community with what you’re doing.”

A painter — and member of SPAC — for more than 40 years, Remmer started experimenting with pottery several years ago and fell in love.

“I like working physically. I’m a gardener for one thing. I’m always digging around and I like working with my hands,” she says. “I’ve just enjoyed starting from scratch. It’s all hand-built, not on the wheel.”

“It’s East Indian hand wedge pottery. It’s a totally different method than putting one coil on top of the next.”

Her pieces are “a little unusual” in that they’re more sculptural than your average floral vase or vessel, and can run quite large — upward of two feet high in some cases.

Remmer will have roughly 10 pieces at the show, one of more than 200 artists who will be featuring their work.

She adds that the society itself is unique in that anyone can join.

“It’s for artists of any calibre, whether they’re just starting or they’re professionals. Getting into art was a way of keeping my sanity when I was raising young children,” she says, laughing, “and then having a group that was so welcoming and encouraging, that was just amazing.”

To help support the show and sale, SPAC is still looking for patrons until April 22, says Jean. With a donation of $125, patrons are granted an early look at the artworks at an evening gala April 24. Patrons, plus a guest, can enjoy wine and appetizers while browsing and can receive up to $100 off if they purchase a piece of art that night.

The show runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 25 and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 26 at the Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Avenue in Sidney. Admission is $4, valid for both days.

For more information about SPAC and membership, contact Donna Jean at 250-655-1855.