Sheila Tansey rediscovered her love for painting after attending ArtWalk for the first time.
In 2009, the Lake Country artist was “blown away” by the dedication the community gave to Okanagan artists.
And she has participated in the walk ever since, selling her whimsical paintings of bikes, Volkswagen Beetles and Okanagan scenery.
“It inspired me to start painting seriously. I’ve always been an artist. My mom painted, you know, she was my initial influence, but life happens. I took art classes here and there… but I hadn’t taken it seriously until I moved here. Art Walk is definitely what pushed me,” Tansey said. “People liked what they saw and what I like about why I paint, I realized is how I can connect with people. I paint because people can connect with my art.”
Both the welcoming art community and the landscape inspired her to pursue a career as an artist.
“I paint a variety of things that just come out of my head too, but definitely the mountains, the lakes, nature, wildlife, that’s been an influence to me,” she said.
People are also starting to recognize Tansey’s work, which she said improved when she compared her art to others at the event, now in a 25th anniversary year.
Lake Country artist Denise Patrick, who is also treasurer for the Lake Country Art Gallery, will display her Night Garden series for this year’s event and has been involved with ArtWalk since 2005.
“You learn from the other artists in the walk,” she said. “Going to the ArtWalk is a huge education.”
Anne Wise, organizer on the ArtWalk committee, said it started in Holiday Park before it grew too large and was taken over by the District of Lake Country.
The event has also been growing, with more than 300 artists and 7,000 visitors expected this year.
The venue size has also increased, Wise said.
After its initial location and startup, the walk moved to George Elliot Secondary’s gymnasium and it continues to expand, now using up the entire space of the community complex and stretches to the Lake Country Art Gallery down the street.
It’s also helped establish Lake Country as an art-focused community.
“I think establishing Lake Country as an arts community is a great idea,” Wise said.
It also brings all sorts of people to the district, some plan their vacation around it, Wise said.
Tansey said she spoke with people from Texas and sold a piece to a woman from Switzerland.
This year’s theme is the “Art of our Times,” which coincides with the Lake Country Art Gallery’s latest exhibition “Sign of the Times: the Art of Protest” which will have gallery members and Art Walk artists contributing their opinions about the current local and global climate.
“It’s an opportunity to reach a wider audience,” said gallery manager Petrina McNeill.
McNeill said art contextualizes concepts that may be hard to grasp, and the role of the artist is to comment on the world around them.
“It’s how we mentally process these things that are perhaps bigger than ourselves. It’s processed through visual art, it’s processed through music, through film,” she said.
The gallery will be participating in the Art Walk by displaying protest signs as part of its exhibition outside its location at 10356 Bottom Wood Lake Rd.
The Art Walk features artists from Osoyoos to Kamloops. Visit venues, displays, performances, buy original art and watch artists compete in hour-long Quick Painting and 15 minutes Paint Off competitions Sept. 8 and 9 at the Community Complex. Admission is $2.