If you’ve never seen what Revelstoke-based artist Ron Nixon can do with a pack of pencil crayons, purchased from the drug store, it’s worth a visit to the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre. His exhibition, entitled Waterworlds: Full Circle showcases his artistic ability, with pieces from 2005 to the present.
While his earlier pieces are done entirely in drug-store pencil crayon, his more recent pieces incorporate water colour pencil as well as water colour paint for more of a flowing presence.
“It’s full circle for me because in 2005 I had my first show here [at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre],” said Nixon.
Nixon says he has always loved art. He sold his first painting at 12 years old. He was living in Vancouver at the time and was interested in sign painting so much that he’d willingly skip school to hang out at a local sign painting shop.
The first painting he sold was a sign. Then, when he was only 13 years old, he sold his first and only editorial cartoon to the Vancouver Sun. It was of Pierre Elliot Trudeau talking to Charles de Gaulle. He was paid $150 for his efforts.
“That was my kick start,” said Nixon.
He then joined the Royal Canadian Navy at the age of 17 and spent three years in service, but that wasn’t the end of his art career. As Nixon tells the story, he often missed duty watch as many of the officers wanted him to paint murals on their walls.
Now, years later, Nixon says he tries to incorporate the styles of his two artistic heroes – Emily Carr and Robert Bateman into his work.
“I like to think my work is a combination of the two,” he said.
He also points out a bit of irony at the exhibition opening this past Friday. When he had his very first show in 2005 it was pouring rain. It happened to be raining quite heavily at this most recent exhibition opening as well.
“I think I’ll probably slow down from here,” said Nixon. “This is my fourth show in Revelstoke. I’d like to expand from here and maybe have my work in places like Kamloops or Vancouver.”
Also on display at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre is Celebrating Year of the Craft: Clay. Various artists’ work, including members of the Revelstoke Potters’ Guild, are on display. In addition, works from more well known artists including Amanda Eccelston and Bob Kingsmill are on display.
Eccelston’s whimsical and detailed pottery is hugely inspired by the nautical.
“I like to imagine it’s a teapot or pottery submerged under water,” said Eccelston. “Lately I’ve been putting fishbones and skeletons because they contrast all the light.”
Her inspiration for adding skeletons and fish bones came about when she first decided to add a tiny skeleton to her work.
“It seemed to go with the nautical style,” she said.
Granville/Coldstream based potter Bob Kingsmill also has his own unique pottery style — and an equally unique sense of humour. Many of his pieces have unusual titles, including the “Norwegian Chicken Wing Delivery System,” a piece that appears very much like a viking boat, but is intended to be used in a very utilitarian way — for serving chicken wings.
Both Kingsmill and Eccelstone pointed out that working with clay can be very daunting.
“You’re working with transformation,” said Kingsmill, who also shared that he once lost half of his kiln load. “You’re going from wet clay to hard clay to firing the clay. The clay goes through rudeness. The stuff that goes on in the kiln with melting… periodically things can blow up.”
Eccelston then points out the fragility of being a potter.
“We’re the only type of artist who trust a machine to finish our work,” she said.