Aleta Crawford holds her dog Aggie in her home’s gallery space. She is the featured artist during the Lantzville Art Gallery’s Joy of Summer exhibit.

Aleta Crawford holds her dog Aggie in her home’s gallery space. She is the featured artist during the Lantzville Art Gallery’s Joy of Summer exhibit.

Lantzville Art Gallery celebrates the work of artist Aleta Crawford

NANAIMO - Aleta Crawford's work is featured during the Joy of Summer exhibit at the Lantzville Art Gallery.

Pushing boundaries is essential to Aleta Crawford’s artistic expression.

“I love pushing the edges. You push it until you can’t push back anymore,” said Crawford.

Currently Crawford is painting with a cold wax and oil paint process.

“It’s a technique I actually developed and just kept pushing to see how far I could make the medium do what I wanted it to do,” she said, adding she pushed it to another place with tissues and other applications. “I like that it is completely different than anything I have seen or done.”

The original process, before Crawford’s experimentation, was taught to her by artist Rebecca Crowell.

Crawford said sometimes painting is “magical” and you can go into the studio and everything just falls into place. Other times it’s a more painful process.

“There are times when the painting will fight you and the painting will give you all the grief in the world,” she said.

Finding her style, voice, in art was a lengthy process, but rewarding.

“This is definitely when my heart sings. I say it’s like finding your breath. You try lots of different things and then one day you find this is what you do,” said Crawford. “There are no barriers, none of that, it’s just you in that moment in whatever medium you are using and it’s phenomenal.”

Art can heal. The healing properties have been instrumental in Crawford’s life to deal with issues arising from her past.

“I grew up in a violent and dysfunctional home,” said Crawford.

Her father had post-traumatic stress disorder. He was prone to violent episodes because of his disorder.

He was also a realist painter.

“My father was an artist and I grew up with a paintbrush in my hands,” said Crawford.

Her mother died when she was 10 years old and then Crawford and her five siblings were sent to foster care.

Crawford said she got into a good group home when she was 14 and at 16 she got a chance to go on an international exchange to Australia through Rotary.

“That changed my life,” she said.

She returned when she was 17 and no longer qualified to live in foster care. She found a job in the morgue, night shift, cleaning up.

Through dedication and hard work she finished her GED at Camosun College. She studied at the University of Alberta where she got her bachelor’s degree in geography and received her teaching degree from the University of Victoria. Eventually she landed a teaching job and taught geography, social studies and science to high school students.

After retiring from teaching she dedicated more time to her artwork.

Crawford’s work is being celebrated and she is the feature artist at Lantzville Art Gallery during the Joy of Summer exhibition.

“She puts love into everything she does,” said Danica Reyes, owner of the Lanztville Art Gallery.

The Joy of Summer exhibit runs from Saturday (July 23) to Aug. 30 at the gallery, located at 7217 Lantzville Rd. To kick off the exhibit, the gallery is hosting an evening of music and art Saturday from 4-8 p.m. and events will spill out into the plaza. The Neighbours Band will perform in the plaza and other surrounding businesses will stay open late.

During the event visitors can cast their vote for their favourite artist in the gallery. Visitors who cast votes will be eligible to win a gift certificate.

For information, please contact the gallery at 778-269-2955 or https://lantzvilleartgallery.com.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com