Linda Skalenda was in the passenger seat next to her husband Paul, when she spied a patch of orange, yellow and gold alders peeking out from a bank of dark fir trees along the oceanside and asked him to stop the car immediately.
Then she pulled out her camera and began snapping photos.
“This is how the process starts,” Skalenda said. “If I don’t have a camera, I’ll sketch it out on anything – a napkin if I have to.”
The scene from last year’s trip to Tahsis, punched up in bright contrasting acrylics, now hangs on the wall of her home studio in Victoria.
For Skalenda, who spent the last several years living in Lantzville and painting from The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach, the move back to her old stomping grounds in Fairfield this summer brought some of that sudden inspiration straight to her doorstep.
Behind her rests a near panoramic rendition of the view overlooking the Dallas Road bluffs, a piece she painted almost entirely in one day since her return to the capital city.
“I don’t let anything stand between me and the first part of my painting because that’s when the passion comes out on the canvas,” she said. “It’s a thrill from the beginning to end of the project, a little bit like falling in love each time. Being attracted to the scene and knowing it’s going to work for me makes my heart beat faster.”
Skalenda is best known as a landscape artist, with works displayed at Morris Gallery on Burnside Road East, but the range of works stacked up around her studio, from fruit to farm animals, reveal a thirst for experimentation.
She attributes her lifelong creative journey through crafts and jewelry-making, knitting Cowichan sweaters, and more recently, experimenting with cooking to the children’s art classes she first took through the Victoria Art Gallery that first whetted her appetite.
“I would call myself an artist my whole life,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in learning how to create … Once my kids went off and did their own thing, I was able to come back and do what I wanted to do, what I needed to do, and that was to paint. It’s a thrill. It’s a thrill from beginning to end.”
Skalenda joins 60 other artists – painters, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, metalworkers, potters, glass designers, woodturners, weavers, quilters, jewellers, mosaic and bonsai artists at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, otherwise known as Glendale Gardens.
Musicians include Terry Brennan (rhythm and roots); Brad Prevadoros (guitar); The Dancehall Players (country dance); Islander (jazz); Greg Madill (folk); Sarah Tradewell (fiddle); and Ron Sera (accordion).
New this year, the event also includes a gallery of emerging artists and vintage car displays, as well as a plant sale. Check out hpc.ca for the schedule of events.