Although she enjoys school art classes, Hannah Cruickshank never thought she was good enough to pursue the activity beyond a few scheduled hours a week.
Fate, however, had different plans.
Each day after class is dismissed from Valleyview secondary, Cruickshank, 15, cleans offices in a downtown building. The ride home takes her down Victoria Street.
And every day she would see the paintings that hang in Karla Pearce Art Gallery. Cruickshank said she’d never painted before, and always wanted to try.
Then she saw the sign advertising after-school art classes, and decided she needed to attend.
“When I saw the opportunity, I kind of bugged my mom a bit about it and she finally signed me up for it,” she said.
That was two months ago. Now, Cruickshank has a painting she intends to enter in Pearce’s first Emerging Artist Show.
Called Snow Leopard, the painting is the product of Cruikshank’s first real foray into the medium.
She said Pearce, who has operated her gallery at 607 Victoria St. for about a year, lets her students create whatever they want and only offers guidance and suggestions.
“You start on your painting and Karla let’s you do whatever you are kind of feeling. Then she’ll come and teach you little tricks,” she said. “There’s a lot of figuring out who you are, but there’s that artist there helping you who knows their stuff.”
Cruikshank appreciates being able to figuring things out on her own, she said. Her work is usually inspired by what she sees in books, which is how Snow Leopard was born.
“I don’t have anything I particularly enjoy painting yet. I haven’t figured that out,” she said. “I like things with colour.”
The painting, a close-up of a snow leopard’s face with mountains in the background, gave Cruikshank the opportunity to create a realistic picture. She used the animal’s natural colours and gave the cat vibrant eyes that stand out amongst the grey and black.
“There was one picture of it in a book, but I kind of made it my own,” she said.
Cruikshank said the mountains in the background are Pearce’s idea, and she painted them to be as realistic as possible.
She painted in acrylic, which allows the artist to paint over any mistakes. Being able to do that is important for anyone starting out, she said.
Pearce called Cruikshank a rock star, and is glad she will submit Snow Leopard to her first emerging artist show.
The deadline for submissions is March 26 and the paintings will be juried April 2. The show runs April 5 until May 14 at Pearce’s gallery.
An opening reception will be held Saturday, April 13, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Pearce has been a juror at art shows before and didn’t like the anonymity of the position.
“When the artist came to the show, I could see that so many of them were deflated and they didn’t even know who was on the jury,” she said. “The jurors tend to be a little hard because they are anonymous.”
Often, jurors are artists themselves. For her show, Pearce has turned to personalities from the community who know a thing or two about art, she said.
The jurors are art enthusiast Jean Chertkow, Midday host Susan Edgell, columnist Dale Bass, Shaw TV producer Sam Numsen, Kamloops-Thompson School District fine arts co-ordinator Lorie Jane Froese, Cheetie Malouin of Strong Picture Framing, Jessica Ganton Stanley of Art Tree: Healing Arts and Therapy and Academy of Learning director Susan Smurthwaite.
Each juror will leave a comment or two on each submission. Prizes will be awarded for the top three pieces of art, but there’s more than $1,000 worth of gifts and awards in total.
“My goal is to make this as positive as possible,” said Pearce.
The show is open to everyone. The entry fee for adults is $25 and $10 for children.
To contact Pearce phone 250-828-2032 or visit www.karlapearcegallery.com.