The faces look out amongst the colourful bunches of fresh produce and tempting baked goods.
Sitting at her booth, Melissa Dinwoodie is one of the many artists who can be seen selling her wares —in this case, paintings, prints and art cards— at the Vernon Farmers’ Market.
Noticeable by the larger-than-life impressionistic acrylic portraits that peek out from underneath a canvas tent, Dinwoodie says she is fascinated by the underlying stories everyone has.
About to show her portraits in the exhibition, Stories, at The Hub Arts Collective, Dinwoodie says some of her portraits are the figment of her imagination; others are from found images that she has built upon.
“I don’t put titles on them and there is nothing in my head before I start painting. I like to leave that up to interpretation,” said Dinwoodie, adding Stories comes from the assumptions we have about those around us, but don’t necessarily know.
“It’s human nature to assume things about a person from one glance, but how many of us stick to those first thoughts?,” she asks in her artist statement. “How many of us take the time to see if we’re right, or in most cases, dead wrong?”
Educated in interior design, Dinwoodie has been busy pushing her art through her MD Art and Design business, and has most recently been showing her portraits and other works at the farmers’ market.
“I’ve worked in oils since 2011 and this is my first year doing acrylics. It took me a while to get used to them,” she said. “I’ve been thinking of ways to make my work more marketable. My goal is to just do art.”
Her work ethic lately has been to invite viewers to first identify with the image on the canvas, and have it be intriguing enough to compel them to step close enough to see each individual brush stroke, and the process wherein.
And like the portraits that she paints, Dinwoodie has her own story.
Her father is world champion auctioneer Keith Dinwoodie, while her uncles are well known country and western performers Rob and Lee Dinwoodie.
Opting not to go into the family business, Dinwoodie instead attended Okanagan University College after graduating from Pleasant Valley Secondary School in Armstrong. After obtaining her bachelor of arts degree in 2001, she lived in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, where she received a degree in interior design at the Art Institute in 2007.
“I’ve shown my work in Calgary, Toronto, New Westminster and Vancouver, and have been back in Vernon for five years now,” she said. “I knew I wanted to come back to the Okanagan. My family is here and I wanted to make new contacts.”
Now living in one of the residential suites at the Caetani Cultural Centre, former home to renowned artist Sveva Caetani, Dinwoodie says she made the right decision to return home.
“I was Googling arts stuff in Vernon and the Caetani house popped up with suites to rent. I was super excited… It’s nice to be surrounded by artists,” she said.
Dinwoodie has also achieved her goal in making contacts here. She has shown her wine series of paintings in local establishment Crush Bistro, and her work at the summer art markets at the Caetani Centre gardens. It’s there where she met Hub curator Ryan Robson, who used to live at the house.
“She thought my work would do well at The Hub, and booked my show for the month of May there,” said Dinwoodie.
Those wishing to see Stories and meet Dinwoodie can do so when the exhibition opens at The Hub Saturday with a reception at 8 p.m.
The Hub Arts Collective is located on 30th Avenue, downtown Vernon, next to the Towne Cinema. Admission is a minimum donation of $5.