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Making most of God-given gifts

Darrell Swanson with several paintings which will be featured during the 16th annual Art Studio Tour. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Darrell Swanson with several paintings which will be featured during the 16th annual Art Studio Tour.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

When Darrell Swanson paints, there’s a message in every swirl and geometrical shape.

It’s art that evokes a feeling.

“I think a painting should have some kind of emotional message in it that strikes a chord in a person’s heart,” says Swanson, who is one of 32 artists preparing for the 16th annual Art Studio Tour, which takes place on the weekend.

Swanson’s artistic endeavours span genres. He’s written a book, takes photographs, creates collages and rediscovered painting recently.

He credits his wife for reigniting a passion that had remained dormant since the 1970s.

Four years ago, Swanson’s wife got him one of those Costco easels for Christmas.

It gathered dust until a year ago.

“I hasn’t even opened the box,” he says.

“I just went at it. I just painted and painted.”

Swanson favours surrealism, a genre and cultural movement that began in the early 1920s which aims to “resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality.”

“I love Dali,” says Swanson.

“Surrealism is where my heart is. It can be whimsical and I like that because I have a sense of humour.”

More so, Swanson likes art that is emotive.

“We can paint for the sheer joy of doing it but I think my work is message driven,” he says.

Instead of tucking his easel back into a dark closet, Swanson wants to keep painting. He keeps his brushes, paint and canvas close at hand in his home office.

“I figured at my age, I had to make the most of it,” says Swanson, with a laugh.

“It’s a gift and I think it’s important for us to exercise those gifts. We are only here for a short time and if you don’t advance your talents, I think you are doing the whole world an unjust.”

For Swanson, art is transformative.

“If you think about the great artists of the past, some of them were world-changing,” he says.

“Even today, cultures are swayed by artists. God-given gifts are there for us to enjoy but there is also something deeper.”

The Art Studio Tour attracts over 1,500 visitors every year and features everything from paintings in all media to functional pottery, ceramic sculptures, jewelry, paper art, and mosaics.

Swanson will be sharing his space with four other artists - Daisy Randell, Judy Osiowy,  Brigitta Schneiter and Mike Stewart. Their studio is located at 13916 Reichenbach Road, Pitt Meadows. The Art Studio Tour takes place May 10-11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For a map, visit artstudiotour.ca.

Daisy Randell

Randell creates mixed media mosaics made up of oil-based clay, glass and found objects. “ I have dabbled with many different mediums and found that with mosaics, I could do it all,” she says. “I don’t have limitations, my ideas only grow stronger. My goal is to grab attention. I want the onlooker to feel, yes they can physically touch it, but I mean emotional stimulation.”

Judy Osiowy

Osiowy has been avidly painting for 30 years. She trained at the Vancouver School of Art (currently Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design).  She has always loved to experiment with various media, and continues to work on different surfaces, and with various mediums, including watercolour, acrylic, inks, and pastels

Brigitta Schneiter

Schneiter creates decorative and functional art in clay, using both hand building and throwing techniques. Incorporating themes from nature, the unique and enchanting vessels, vases, birdbaths, frog houses and mushrooms are both for indoor and outdoor use, while the distinct jugs, cups and bowls are an asset to any dinner table.

Mike Stewart

Stewart started wood carving at Lee Valley Tools in April of 2008 and joined Maple Ridge Lapidary Club a few months later to further explore the art. He started off carving Italian soap stone but has since branched out into clay sculptures and is currently exploring the two-dimensional world of painting.

• The studio is located at 13916 Reichenbach Road, Pitt Meadows. The Art Studio Tour takes place May 10-11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For a map, visit artstudiotour.ca.

HUB: Your Cycling Connection is organizing a bike tour on May 11. More information online.

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