Kelowna artist’s pandemic reflections on display at Vernon gallery

Kelowna-based artist Melissa Dinwoodie created 60 paintings in 60 days during a layoff period caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which are on display at the Caetani Cultural Centre Saturday, July 18, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

A Kelowna-based artists is bearing her pandemic ruminations to the public at a Vernon art gallery.

After the pandemic caused Melissa Dinwoodie to be laid off from her bartending job in Kelowna, she endeavoured to paint every day until her day job could resume.

The result was 60 paintings created in 60 days, all of which are on display at the Caetani Cultural Centre tonight (July 18) until 9 p.m.

Dinwoodie began painting 10 days into being out of work—days she spent processing the shock of having directly felt the effects of a pandemic-related workplace closure.

“In those first 10 days I didn’t feel very inspired to do anything … I was kind of in denial about what was going on,” she said. “I needed something to get me through each day.”

Specializing in acrylic and mixed media painting, Dinwoodie’s work focuses largely on figurative portraits. The exhibit’s 60 portraits are a chronology of the thoughts and feelings she experienced throughout her layoff period.

READ MORE: Dark themes explored in Vernon author’s debut novel

Hung beneath each portrait is the journal entry she wrote the day the portrait was created.

“I would journal in the morning and kind of figure out how I was feeling that day depending on news that I had watched or who I had talked to the night before,” she said. “However I felt that day, that was my starting point for the painting.”

For Dinwoodie, the process was not only therapeutic but also eye-opening in terms of her work as an artist. A silver lining to her work disruption was that it afforded her the chance to paint full-time.

“That’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “No matter what it is, if you do something every day you’re going to have breakthroughs. You’re going to get better or find some things out that you didn’t know beforehand.”

Dinwoodie added the extra time allowed to her experiment, and the pandemic served as an entry point for creating more topical work.

“This series has made me realize how important it is to do art that actually says something about what’s going on right now and is relevant.”

The Caetani Studio Gallery exhibit is holding a reception from 6-9 p.m. Saturday. Social distancing measures are in effect, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own masks.

READ MORE: Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts turns digital for fifth anniversary

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Artist ExhibitCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon officer returns soccer ball and boy’s smile

RCMP officer retrieves errant soccer ball, returns it to five-year-old with cruiser lights flashing

Former Vernon psychologist disciplined

Complaint filed against Dr. Kevin Miller over conduct in context of treatment provided to client

Queen Silver Star tradition upheld despite COVID-19

Vernon, Coldstream, Lumby, Armstrong and Enderby youth can apply

Kelowna RCMP search for missing teen

Reina Hodgins was last seen Aug. 9, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. at her residence

UPDATE: Lines cleared on Vernon street

Power and telephone/cable wires pulled from house

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

UFO trackers set their sights on Revelstoke skies

Rob Freeman UFO World Explorer and crew went up Sale Mountain

Former Summerlander receives Emmy nomination for makeup work

Lucky Bromhead recognized for her work with Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

COVID-19 could mean curtains for film and TV extras

Background performers worry they’re being replaced by mannequins on film and TV sets

Laid-off B.C. hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Laid-off workers not sure what they’ll do when government support programs end

Mitchell’s Musings: Hockey’s comeback begins in earnest in August

Sports is back. Well, at least sports in a bubble is back.… Continue reading

Most Read