Four colours, one brush — Go Figure

Nicholas Pearce brings two-day art show to Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre.

Artist Nicholas Pearce and his paintings of women are featured at Go Figure

Artist Nicholas Pearce is bringing his show and his students to the Mary Winspear Centre next week.

His fascination?

Women.

With the help of his wife Deborah, the show titled Go Figure will be brought to the Winspear Centre with 150 paintings from Pearce and his 30 students.

He and his wife moved here from Calgary and they lived on a sailboat on the coast for 17 years.

After Pearce had left his job doing illustrations for the Calgary Herald, he thought he’d dip into fine art painting and began watercolour painting, depicting the reflection of light off water in high realism.

“They were quite popular but it would take me a week and a half to do one and it was only the last couple of days that was any fun, so I searched around for what it is I really wanted to do…”

He referenced Robert Bateman, Canadian naturalist and painter.

“I realized that he does (what he does) because he’s painting what’s important to him, what he’s discovered about himself in life and what’s important, which is nature,” he said.

Pearce later realized that what interested him was women.

But why?

“Women to me represent the embodiment of power and strength and sensuality and sexuality and sensitivity all together,” he said.

Pearce said he is always trying to find the same elements of power, sensuality and sensitivity in what he paints, which are nudes, portraits and flamenco dancers, all of which will be part of the art show.

When asked if he’d ever consider painting men, he answered no.

“I have no connection, there’s no connection to it. I have to paint what I feel connected to.”

After realizing he wanted to paint women, he began by painting nudes and started asking friends to model in the nude and always worked in photo reference because he never wants to do an academic nude where it’s posed.

“I want to find those magic moments that are the person,” he said.

For Go Figure, he had the idea seven to eight years ago to include his students.

“And what I’ve developed over the years is this technique of painting using only four colours plus white, just primary colours, in acrylic on a 30 by 40 canvas…”

Using photo reference, which he supplies, the students have to paint it with a one-and-a-half inch housepainter’s brush.

Pearce offers the classes in his home, and there will be a class sign up table at the show for those interested in signing up for his many classes.

Each student is given a gridded photograph, and they use the grid to draw that onto the canvas as the canvas is also gridded. Pearce also teaches them how to mix on the canvas instead of on the pallet.

“The idea is to be able to get the essence onto the canvas to make it work,” he said.

Choosing 30 of his students to participate in the show was the first time he has done something like this.

Another element of the show he said is his class, Through Artists’ Eyes, which is a body image class for women. The week before the class, each woman comes for her own nude modelling session and they then get together to talk about the session, selecting one of three images to paint of themselves. Some of those images will be in the show.

“It’s an opportunity for them to get in touch with who they are physically,” said Pearce.

The show is free and takes place April 9 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on April 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a reception Saturday night (April 9) from 7 to 9 p.m. with refreshments and food.

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