Brian Buckrell has visited Tofino so many times he can paint it with his eyes closed.
The Comox Valley-based artist is making his Nanaimo debut this month with an exhibition of his impressionist West Island coastal landscapes at Art 10 Gallery. Buckrell is the first artist from outside the regular Nanaimo-area group to be featured at the venue. The works were almost all created for the show during the last two months.
“A lot of them emphasize the Tofino-Uclulet area or up north at Spring Island where we paddle…” Buckrell said.
“We’ve got an RV and we go out there and I paint from the RV.”
While some paintings were done on-location, others were based on sketches, photographs, memory and imagination.
“How can you not be drawn to it?” Buckrell said of the western coastline.
“I mean, if you’re an outdoors person and you like to hike or kayak or whatever, getting out on the coast your heart just goes ‘pound, pound, pound’ and you see it and you wonder, ‘Wow, could I capture that in a painting? What would that be like? How would I do it?’”
He said it’s an “adventure” trying to figure out how to interpret his sketches and photographs when he recreates them on canvas. That’s where his imagination comes in.
“This looks nothing like what I saw up there,” he said, gesturing to a brightly coloured painting.
“That’s the artistic licence. That’s the freedom to play and it’s playing that I like to do. I like colour, I like to play imaginatively. A lot of it is just from taking something that’s basic – an ordinary photograph – and then enhancing it and trying to make it fun. Fun to do and fun to look at, I hope.”
Buckrell has been painting full-time since retiring from a veterinary medicine position at the University of Guelph in Ontario and moving to Comox in 2001. Since then he’s had his work on display in galleries in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.
“I’m just trying to do my thing. This is what I enjoy doing. If other people like it, and they seem to enough, then I’m happy…” Buckrell said.
“There’s a great satisfaction in somebody else liking what you do and walking away taking it home.”
WHAT’S ON … Brian Buckrell exhibition at Art 10 Gallery continues until the end of the month.