Binns guides others on their artistic journey

NANAIMO - Annual Art Show and Sale features work by participants from city art classes.

Art has been a part of Helen O. Binns’ life from an early age.

“I’ve been exposed to art since I could walk,” she said.

Each time she creates, the piece is different.

“I get lost in it. It depends what I am drawing or painting,” said Binns. “With watercolours I end up exploring. I enjoy doing it. I feel better after it … I am amazed at what comes out.”

Although she has a bachelor of science in chemistry she has always been drawn to artistic mediums to express herself. She creates watercolour paintings and graphite drawings.

While living in Winnipeg she took art classes. When she moved to Calgary a friend saw Binns’ abilities and encouraged her to teach. When she moved to Nanaimo in 2005 she started teaching for parks, recreation and culture.

A five-month trek across the globe to explore the different artistic styles in England, Moscow, Thailand, New Zealand and Fiji also inspired some of her art classes. In each country she worked on paintings and said the style of work she created in each area is very different.

“In every country, even though I used the same palette, it was very different from the paintings produced, different colours – I was definitely affected by the weather. England is a lot of greens,” she said.

Binns instructs a number of classes this spring and summer including drawing, watercolour classes for beginners and intermediate levels, and West Meets East, a class that introduces techniques used by Eastern artists such as Lien Zhen and Andy Loo. Binns has also been an instructor for Arts Alive and some of her pieces will be on display at the Nanaimo Harbourfront library in May.

There are many established artists who take some of the intermediate courses to access studio space and connect to other artists. Although abilities can vary Binns can still help guide artists in different directions regardless of their experience level. Binns said it’s because of her coaching background, having taught different sport courses over the years.

People can see a wide variety of artistic styles during the upcoming Fourth Annual Culture Art Show and Sale on March 24, noon to 3 p.m., at the Beban Park Social Centre. The event features the work of people from the city’s adult art classes. Harpist Kirsty MacDonald will also play during the event.

During the event Binns will lead a demonstration from 12:30-1:15 p.m. Artist Marilyn Ridsdale will lead a demonstration 1:30-2:15 p.m.

Each artist involved in the show and sale will have a booth where they can sell their artwork. All sales are between the artist and customer. People who have taken an art class through the city are invited to participate in the show by contacting by March 18.

For more information about the show or upcoming classes please call 250-756-5200 or  go to