Nanaimo painter Patricia Mansell believes the first-hand experience she gains while observing wildlife in their natural habitat helps her translate the interaction into something meaningful.
In her latest exhibit as the featured artist for Nanaimo North Town Centre’s Art 10 Gallery, the painter shares a collection of Canadian wildlife acrylic paintings – all rendered from her own reference photos.
“I was down at the foot of the Great Bear Rainforest photographing grizzly bears eating salmon – that’s produced a couple of pieces for me, but I don’t have them hanging just yet,” Mansell said. “I look for opportunities like that, so I’m always going out.”
Several of the pieces at the gallery are new to the painter’s collection, although most currently displayed work is an amalgamation of what she’s worked on over the years.
In one painting, Mansell had photographed wolves while in Montebello, Que., but she decided to place them in a West Coast setting. The decision to do so rooted in a preference for working with a cooler, often bluer, palette.
“It was an amazing experience – there was a wolf pack that started howling … and suddenly there was an echo as their howls were picked up by another pack. It was amazing and sent shivers through me,” she said, adding that she loves being able to explore the outdoors and collect such moments for her art.
While working, Mansell said she’s not in a rush to produce pieces since she does it for the joy of the whole experience, and her detailed work often requires the precision of paintbrushes only a few hairs thick.
The stories she looks to tell through her work centre on what the animals face in the wild, often a rapidly decreasing habitat, and whether or not she wants to include their struggles as part of the story.
One such example is when the artist worked with a Vancouver-based painting group to collaboratively create a mural of critically endangered birds.
“That was an amazing heart-wrench because we knew that we would probably outlast the birds that we were painting … We wanted to do the project as a memory for them for when they’re gone,” she said.
Mansell will exhibit ‘Wild by Nature’ until Feb. 28 at the Art 10 Gallery during mall hours.
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