Arts & Culture

Painter appreciates outdoor creation

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 11:57 PDT, Tue October 27, 2020

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

Susan Viccars describes plein air (outdoor) painting as “a delightful and demanding way to work.”

The two-time exhibitor in Richmond Arts Council’s annual Midsummer Art’s Dream show also appreciates the virtual exhibit format this year—viewable online until December.

“During the pandemic it is really nice to have some events and projects to work toward,” says Viccars. “It feels a bit less like we’re all just out there in our remote bubbles, and it’s nice to have the shared experience of a show.”

Viccars has been painting for about 25 years, and started while travelling. She says she finds artistic inspiration in the things she observes in the world, as well as from her imagination.

“Over the last couple of years I’ve done quite a bit of plein air painting,” says Viccars. “You have to totally focus on what is in front of you, dealing with light changes and scene changes as they occur. It helps me to really enjoy the process, to be less focused on the final result and more focused on composing and capturing what I’m viewing in the moment.”

Viccars entered three pieces in this year’s show: Terra Nova Foreshore, an acrylic painting based on a photo she took in the springtime; Panaderia, a watercolour painted during a holiday in Mexico last winter; and The Mirakami Garden, a watercolour painting from this past summer. Her third painting received an honourable mention from the competition’s judges.

“When I chose work for this show, I was a bit more eclectic than last year,” says Viccars. “I wanted to show a variety of current approaches and media.”

While her creative process has not changed during the pandemic, Viccars says she is painting more.

“I have four large acrylic paintings from (the beginning of the pandemic) that are full of fantastic creatures. Now that the weather is changing, I want to do at least one more painting as part of my Secret World series,” she says.

As part of her plein air painting sessions, Viccars says she works on two paintings each time and has been working with more watercolour this year compared to last year, when she always used acrylics.

“I try not to be too focused on the final result but to enjoy the process, getting into the artistic zone when I’m working. It is kind of magical,” she says. “And most times I like what I do, I’m not a very harsh critic of my work.”

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