— Pamela Roth
Six years ago, Jim Wispinski was feeling burnt out from art.
The 73-year-old Esquimalt resident had spent 50 years creating a wide variety of pieces, (30 of those years as a professional artist) but it was a struggle at times to get people interested in buying art.
So Wispinski traded in his paint brushes for a ukulele and joined a band in town that entertained crowds for about five years. Eventually, he became interested in art again when the Township Community Arts Council (TCAC) started inviting him to shows.
Around that time, Wispinski also discovered zentangle art — which he describes as a sophisticated form of doodling. The popular art form has inspired him to create hundreds of pieces.
“To be able to still do art is amazing. It’s something within you,” said Wispinski, who was selected to be the artist in residence at the English Inn this month.
“It’s just something within you. You don’t have to wait for a bolt of lightning. It’s just there all the time.”
Wispinski was destined to be an artist from the day he was born. Having a dad that was artistic and worked as a masseur, he started doodling when he was three years old, eventually getting into oil paintings that he sold to his father’s clients.
After graduating from the University of Alberta, Wispinski taught art in junior high for five years. His love for art was stimulated when he attended an art history course in Rome. Wispinski subsequently entered the Alberta College of Art (in Calgary) in 1971, receiving five scholarships and graduating with an honours diploma in advertising art.
It wasn’t until his dad passed away that he decided to pursue art as a profession, and left his job in the commercial art field to move to Victoria with his wife in 1983. But since more than 60 per cent of Canadian artists live in the area, making a living as a professional wasn’t exactly easy.
Wispinski is thrilled he will have an opportunity to showcase the wide variety of work he’s created throughout the years. Although watercolours and oils are his favourite media, he uses five different styles and dabbles in about 22 different mediums. His basic style is realistic, almost a photographic-type painting.
“The biggest thing is eclectic. There will be a wide variety of medium and subject matter, from my prairie days to the West Coast and visits to other countries,” he said about the exhibit. “I am reborn.”
Wispinski’s work will be on display and for sale from Nov. 5 to Dec. 10. He will also host a gelli printmaking demonstration on Nov. 15, a water colour class on Nov. 26., and a zentangle demonstration on Dec. 6. Pre-registration is required by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The opening reception takes place Nov. 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
This marks the second time the arts council has sponsored its artist in residence at the English Inn. The program runs until March and features three local artists. Michael Giles will be featured in December/January and painter Lynda Lombardi in January/February.
For more information on classes and demonstrations visit townshiparts.org.