Nicole Shaw, left, and Sekoya Dawn next to their respective works at the Qualicum Arts Supply and Gallery in Qualicum Beach. The art will be on display until the end of February. (Mandy Moraes photo)

Acrylic artists display work in Qualicum Beach

Nicole Shaw and Sekoya Dawn both featured at Qualicum Arts Supply and Gallery

Two acrylic artists look to express their connections with artwork and nature.

The Qualicum Arts and Supply Gallery, on First Avenue in Qualicum Beach, has two featured artists with exhibits until the end of February.

Nicole Shaw and Sekoya Dawn will have both their prints and canvas paintings on display and for sale side-by-side.

Shaw, an avid organic farmer in Errington, enjoys the creative process of painting in her spare time. She has a home studio called Autumn Rain Studio that overlooks her farm.

Shaw is very passionate about environmental activism and strives to be as self-reliant and live as sustainably as she can.

Though primarily self-taught, Shaw attended Vancouver Island University and studied both fine arts and graphic arts, earning a diploma in graphic arts.

“Creating a deeper awareness” motivates Shaw, and she uses that sentiment as a foundation for her artwork, activism, feminism, writing and volunteering.

As an artist, Shaw considers it her job to have honest conversations to raise her own self-awareness and encourage girls and women to reconnect with themselves.

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Her hope is that her artwork will allow people to find their inner strength and “tap into the life force of the universe” so to develop a better understanding and respect for the perceived connection.

When painting, Shaw’s unique process often starts when she writes her intentions for the painting down on the canvas first, comparing it to a journal, and then will proceeds to add a layer at a time until satisfied.

“Sometimes they turn out where I completely change the feeling of the painting by the last layer. And then other times I let them (the printed words) peek through.”

Dawn, who lives on Lasqueti Island with her husband and children, said she’s always had a close connection and relationship with the earth, which she attributes to being able to spend her childhood on the West Coast in British Columbia. She recalls her love of artwork came from an early age and has remained a source of fulfillment to this day. She considers the forest as a sanctuary, something to teach and offer her guidance.

“I live, breathe and paint what I love. Detailed geometric patterns that I see in nature remind me how everything is connected.”

Solitary hikes keep her grounded and inspired, which can often last days, and is part of her “integral connection to nature.”

As Dawn is greatly influenced by the nuances of nature, trees in particular has always held a dear place to her, and considers herself “humbled and honoured” by their inspiration.

Through her art, Dawn looks to introduce the serenity that she finds with the total immersion in nature, and would like to offer that experience to those who cannot do so firsthand.

She hopes to inspire other to “see the divine all around us” and develop a respect for the planet.

Dawn prefers to work with acrylics which allows her to use an airbrush for details such as clouds and mist. She said the contrast between an airbrushed sky and hand-painted landscape helps to create the depth she looks to convey.

The quick-drying properties of acrylics also allow her to carry her paintings through various terrain to paint in remote areas. Though she does consider oil paint as her favourite, and uses them predominately for water images where a smooth fluid look is desired.

Each piece evolves over hundreds of hours, which can easily blend into months, said Dawn.

“They are a labour of love. They become a world I lose myself in.”

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