Paintings of Salt Spring done in a deeply satisfying impressionist manner are available for viewing at Duthie Gallery this month, where a solo show by Josephine Fletcher puts the focus on light and colour in local nature.
Fletcher’s artist statement explains she grew up on Hornby Island amidst a dedicated enclave of artists.
“Encouraged by her family and Jack Shadbolt and other painters of the Hornby set, she attended the Banff School of Fine Art, continued on to four years at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver and has been painting seriously and full time for more than 40 years.”
Fletcher has had numerous solo shows and group shows in Vancouver, Hornby and Vancouver Island. Her work demonstrates her enthusiasm for and mastery of colour with a strong, gestural hand. Landscapes reflect her abiding love of nature, in the transcendentalist tradition. Her travels have also inspired her, and artists from the Fauves to Pierre Soulages have been influences.
“I loved to see the Impressionist painters, and I thought, “Ooh, I think I’ll paint outside,” Fletcher said about her early days of painting. “And I love the real paint sliding around together. I scoop it up and put it down. The more I get used to it, it’s like composing music across the whole canvas. You’re building up all these lights and shadows.”
Landscapes in the current show are personal and evocative yet instantly recognizable with the slight prod of the name tag. A deeply shadowed curve of Southey Point Road with over-arching tree canopy lines the road in bars, the man-made surface dominated by a living forest fence. Ruckle Farm, Rain Washed with Telephone Lines is full of lemony fresh yellows and greens, the new clean grass bursting with light that is framed and contrasted by black tree silhouettes.
When it comes to her locations, Fletcher mused on her abiding love for her home island landscape of fields, the sea and warm light.
Other paintings are not so much about location as joy in the rich beauty cultivated in the islands, such as two small and very lovely paintings of honeysuckle blossoms. The honeysuckles were painted in Duthie’s garden.
A magnolia tree and its broad pink petals brim with reflected light and fill most of the secret corner with deep lush green below in Magnolia in the Garden. In another work, a black and white cat licking itself on the path is suggested by just a simple arrangement of colour blocks, overwhelmed by a riot of colour and life-force in a row of poppies or roses.
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday.
For more on this story, see the September 12, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.