A colourful conclusion

Oak Bay artist elevated to Master category in area fine art showcase

Marion Evamy shows off one of the pooch portraits that make the Oak Bay artist popular among collectors.

Marion Evamy shows off one of the pooch portraits that make the Oak Bay artist popular among collectors.

For Marion Evamy, its all about colour.

Evamy began to apply her talents to painting in the late 1990’s when she started painting with her father while he was recovering from cancer treatments. Those sessions sparked a passion within her that was further inspired when she saw the work of artist Ron Burns. They were pictures of dogs, and Evamy realized that she could paint the same subjects with her own particular twist. Before long she was being commissioned to do dozens of pooch portraits. She still paints about 20 a year, but she now donates the proceeds from those paintings to charities for children and pets.

These days, Evamy’s work is still about colour, but her subject matter is far more personal – an expression of her soul.

Singularly unconcerned with whether her paintings are classified as abstract impressionism or non-representational art, or any other label that others may choose to apply, she does care about the colour, form and the fact that from time to time, her work manages to capture someone at an emotional level.

“I recall a lady who was genuinely moved to tears,” says Evamy. “She was looking at one of my pieces and she saw elements in the work that reminded her of her late husband. It spoke to her on a very personal level and I guess that’s what art is supposed to do. It blows me away that it can happen. … it’s what I’m trying to do with my art, connect with people.”

It’s an approach that seems to be working.

When the Sidney Fine Art Show, considered by many to be the premier art show on Vancouver Island, opened its doors on Oct. 11, Evamy had one of her works on display. The painting is entitled Breezin’, a work of acrylic on canvas. Typical of Evamy’s style, it’s vibrant with brilliant colour.

It’s an honour to have a painting chosen for display, given that more than 1,200 submissions are made to the juried show and only 350 are selected, said her husband Bobb Hamilton

This year however, Evamy has been notified that she’ll be receiving one of the major awards at the 2012 show.

It’s not the first time that Evamy has been honoured in this way. In 2008, she won the Show Designer award and in 2009 she was awarded Sidney’s Best in Show. With this year’s win, Evamy is destined to be raised to the masters category, a recognition of her talent that will, unfortunately, preclude her work receiving any future awards in the Sidney Fine Art Show.

“Marion’s work stands out because of its quality,” said Sandy Bligh, chair and designer of the Sidney show. “As a master she can’t win any more awards, but I know we’ll see more of her pieces in the future. Her work is happy … bright and colourful. It’s always an attraction.”

The true measure of Evamy’s success as an artist might be gauged by the success of her tiny gallery on Oak Bay Avenue. The Red Art Gallery opened its doors on Feb. 16, 2011, but the story of the gallery really began four months earlier, when some 300 people made their way through Evamy’s home as part of the Oak Bay Artists Fall Studio Tour. Sales had been excellent, but it was apparent to Evamy that it might be time to take the next step as an artist. She found the vacant space on Oak Bay Avenue and scrubbed, renovated and painted the tiny space into what is now a thriving, yet unpretentious gallery in the heart of Oak Bay.

Evamy has used the Red Gallery to not only showcase her own work, but as a vehicle to promote other local artists and causes. She has worked with the Garth Homer Artworks program (a program that uses visual art to work with developmentally challenged adults), the Trent Street Art Therapy program, the Four Cats Children Show, and a show that involved Grade 11 art students from Glen Lyon Norfolk School. That last group was paired with seniors from the Shannon Oaks Retirement home and the result was a series of portraits of the seniors, painted by their young partners.

Several other artists work with Evamy to display their work at the Red Art Gallery, including Deb Garlick, Jennifer Harwood and Lucy Schappy. One of the artists, Leonard Butt, has established a reputation for his stunning pottery and ceramic sculptures. His work is on display at the Red Art Gallery, and is also slated to win a major award at the Sidney Fine Art Show.

While it’s clear that Evamy has achieved a remarkable record of accomplishment in the six years that she’s been in Oak Bay, for her it’s not about critical acclaim, or how many painting’s she’s sold. “It’s not work for me,” she said. “It’s a joyful experience that gives me a chance to touch others in a very personal way. How can you lose?”

More information on Evamy and the Red Art Gallery can be found at redartgallery.ca