Janice Evans, a well known active member here at the gallery, recently spent time in China with some fellow artists and has very kindly shared her great experience with us! Be sure to check out her piece “West Coast Holiday,” currently on display as part of the “Works on Paper” exhibit – on now until January 22!
By: Janice Evans
O.k., I admit it, I’m a plein air junkie. I paint whenever and wherever I can. In all weather and locations – by the ocean, in the forest, on mountains, in airplanes, cars, buses, and ferries…I’m obsessed!
Being outdoor painters, we are a hardy bunch and our adventures have been numerous, touching the spirit of nature with our paint and brush. The other side of plein air is being touched by other people that we have met during our plein air travels.
While painting at the Ladysmith harbour last year, I met a Chinese woman, Yulin, originally from Beijing, now residing in Ottawa with her husband. She was visiting the area with some newly arrived Chinese friends. They were fascinated with my painting style, which, as some of you know, has a distinct Asian feel. I ended up giving my paintings to them as I often do, to those who are not from Canada, as a little good will.
Yulin was anxious for me to meet her sister, Yufen Deng, also an artist, who was visiting in Ottawa from Beijing. It was arranged for Yufen to fly to Nanaimo and spend a few days at my home, painting with me. What a great visit! We had an exchange of cultural ideas and painting styles and practices. Yufen Deng is a wonderful predominantly floral watercolour painter in the Chinese tradition but with a twist of modernity. She does beautiful work and experimented using different paper and paints in my studio. She studies under an exceptionally famous and beautiful Chinese woman artist, He Yunlan, in Beijing.
Skip ahead a year and I’ve just arrived back from a two week adventure in China. Landing in Beijing, Yufen was there with flowers in hand to greet me. Meeting her husband, mother and son at their home the next evening was a treat. We also met Yufen’s teacher, He Yunlan, at her home, and saw work that is so contemporary yet still retained an oriental feel. Her work presented large swaths of dynamic muted colour on paper and fabric panels.
Unexpectedly, her famous, 90 year old artist husband, Lui Boshu, made an appearance too. Both are from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, and this was a highlight of my journey. Their work spoke volumes about their painting passion. Lui Boshu specializes in painting horses in a unique style of flowing and lucid strokes that integrates Chinese calligraphy into his painting. I was honoured to receive one of his fans on which he had painted one of his horse paintings. It will be treasured always.
Art unites us in times of uncertainty and mistrust. Art feeds the soul and makes the heart sing. Art reaches down deep and pulls the emotional human drive to connect with others and shows to not be afraid to reach out. We are one in art. Art unites the world.