Richard Gutierrez shows off his work called'Green Mountains' at his studio at the Cridge Seniors' Centre last week.

Richard Gutierrez shows off his work called'Green Mountains' at his studio at the Cridge Seniors' Centre last week.

Local artist shows true colours

Coloured pencils are not just for elementary school kids anymore. Local artist Richard Gutierrez is using them to create pieces of art.

Coloured pencils are not just for elementary school kids anymore.

Local artist Richard Gutierrez is using them to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

For several hours every day, he works in his studio at the Cridge Seniors’ Centre drawing anything from landscapes and portraits of people that come from his imagination.

“It all comes from my mind, in plain terms — imagination. It’s my landscape from my mind. It’s not a copied landscape. It’s my mountains I make, it’s my river I make,” Gutierrez said.

He estimated he’s completed hundreds of paintings since 1998, some of which he has sold and others he has given away.

“By the time I finish one, another idea pops up into my head.”

For Gutierrez, who is retired, working with coloured pencils is simple because there is no mess, no smell, can be done anywhere, and the pencils come in hundreds of colours.

But he hasn’t always worked with the colourful medium.

In the past, he has experimented with many forms, including oils, acrylic and water

colours.

It wasn’t until 1998, when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer that he tried a new art form.

Gutierrez was a teacher at the time and gave his students an assignment that involved them working with coloured pencils.

“It was like therapy for me. I loved it so much I went home and bought some pencils and I started art again,” he said.

Soon after losing his wife in 2000, Gutierrez learned he too had cancer and art became not only a coping mechanism, but a way to alleviate the pain from treatment.

“It alleviates the physical pain and more, the mental pain,” he said.“It’s therapeutic, I just need to be doing it . . . it’s my mind working.”

A handful of years later, he’s cancer-free and continues to paint exclusively with coloured pencils.

“When people say they retire, they often retire from life and give up what they love to do, but I don’t think I could do that,” he said.

Gutierrez is one of 44 artists that are part of the fifth annual Artishow’s Artist in Residence that runs from May to October.

As part of the event, artists set up their work in 10 hotels lobbies around Victoria for a month-long stint.

“It just gives the artists more exposure,” said Kerry Liggins, co-founder and organizer. “They’re there to interact with guests . . . it sets up a dialogue with the artist, local people and tourists.”

Gutierrez will be showcasing his work at the Inn at Laurel Point in October and it is the first time his work will be shown in Victoria outside of the Cridge.

For more information, artishowvictoria.ca.