Walk allows people to peek into studios

NANAIMO – Artwalk allows people to view work of more than 50 local artists.

Sonja Billard’s acrylic painting

Sonja Billard’s acrylic painting

It’s not every day people get to peek inside the intimate setting of an artist’s studio.

Many artists’ creative spaces are hidden from the public eye, but during the 14th annual Artwalk people can view them, as well as work by local artists in Nanaimo galleries.

The annual walk, Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 1-2), is a self-directed tour.

There are more than 50 artists showcasing their work at 20 locations, stretching from Townsite Road to the south end of the city. It includes a diverse mix of artistic mediums from jewelry, scarves, pottery, paintings, wood carvings and more.

The tour includes veteran artists who have participated in Artwalk for several years and others for the first time.

For abstract and mixed media artist Sonja Billard, it’s the first time she’s participated as an artist, however last year she completed the tour as a visitor.

“I found a lot of friendly warm people on the Artwalk talking about their work in a really relaxed atmosphere,” she said. “There is so much talent on the Island and in Nanaimo. Art doesn’t have to be beautiful. It’s an expression of the artists and what they are feeling and their impression of that art and their surroundings.”

Billard said she gets inspiration for her work from many sources such as colour, reflections and the natural landscape surrounding her. The artist works on series, everything from pears to trees. Memories of places she’s been are also used to create her artwork. A trip to Chéticamp Cape Breton, N.S. inspired her to paint a series of reflections.

“The reflections on the water were absolutely so stunning that they sat in my memory,” she said.

Tanya Streeter, owner of Artzi Stuff and a fabric artist, said Artwalk is a chance to promote all the “great local artists.” Many artists are opening their homes and studios during the tour so it allows people to get a rare glimpse of the space were artist’s create their work.

“It’s cool you get to peek in,” she said.

Streeter said she likes working with fabric because she can create useful wearable art.

“I can make something really beautiful and you can wear it. I can make art that is functional too,” she said.

Maps are available at the Nanaimo Arts Council Gallery, Nanaimo Art Gallery, Artzi Stuff, Barton Leier Gallery, House of Indigo or online at www.nanaimoart walk.jimbo.com.

The Artwalk website also allows people to click on the participating artist tab, choose an artist’s name and read a small bio and see examples of each artist’s work.