Cori Creed joins artists keeping in step at the South Granville ArtWalk

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Artist Cori Creed is sitting in a sleek, white South Granville gallery, but the West Coast wild is all around her. Twisting red arbutus limbs, criss-crossing driftwood logs, feathery lichens, and churning ocean waves reach out from her large canvases that spread across the walls of Bau-Xi Gallery.

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Creed, one of the artists featured in this weekend’s South Granville ArtWalk, has always been surrounded by nature, and has always had the emotional response to it that now emanates from her richly hued oil paintings.

“If things were going bad, I’d hike out till I literally couldn’t see anything man-made anymore, just to get the perspective,” the tall, blond artist says of growing up in West Vancouver’s Caulfeild area. “I was like, 11 or 12, and just to get that perspective that this tree has been here for 80 years—that would always bring me back down.”

Painting has been a lifelong pursuit for Creed, too, so it was natural that her interest in the outdoors, and the peace it would bring her, would find their way into her art.

Creed’s ArtWalk show of new work at Bau-Xi finds the artist revisiting some of her favourite places, including Stearman Beach in West Vancouver, Tofino, and Nanaimo. In the old days, before she had three children, the artist would hike out to the spots with her paints and easels—although she remembers that they would sometimes get knocked over by West Coast ocean gusts. These days, she sketches and takes copious photos to take back to her home studio to work on canvases that can be as large as 10-feet-by-four-feet—a size she feels captures the perspective and feeling of being immersed in the ever-shifting outdoors.

Cori Creed's Waiting to See.

“One of the things I like about coastal landscapes is everything is different: there are different logs, and the light is always moving and changing, so it’s fun to revisit certain favourites spots,” she says, adding there’s a certain pain in that ephemerality. “It’s this strange bittersweet thing when you look at landscapes, because it’s not going to stay.”

In her studio, Creed says she never knows quite how the canvas will turn out. In fact, when she works at the hefty old easel she inherited from her grandfather, she finds she can tap her creative inspiration best by listening to audio books (science fiction, mostly). “Whenever I need to paint, it requires that I unlock something or let something go,” she explains. “It’s almost like I’m keeping the conscious part of me busy so I’m not really thinking.”

Creed won’t have her earbuds in when she demonstrates her painting technique at Bau-Xi from 12 to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Instead, she plans to bring in a half-finished work and show viewers how she executes her paintings. It’s a chance to take a more intimate look at her landscapes. “When you’re up close, you find the different rustling and lichens and needles,” is how she puts it.

As at the other 17 galleries along the tour, which stretches from West 5th to 15th avenues and encompasses shows as diverse as contemporary Northwest Coast art at Douglas Reynolds Gallery and Tim Okamura’s New York–street-smart female portraits at Douglas Udell Gallery, there’ll be food and drink tastings from local purveyors featured at Bau-xi. The roster includes a SalonTea tasting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Bomber Brewing craft-beer tastings with organic food from Heirloom Restaurant from 3 to 6 p.m. Elsewhere along the route, you’ll find everything from wine-and-cheese samplings to artist talks.

Creed welcomes an event that can make work like her own more accessible. And, as always with her paintings, she gets her biggest thrill when the public recognizes the places, and connections to nature, she’s trying to capture in her bold brushstrokes.

“One of the things I love is when someone says, ‘I recognize that spot’ or ‘I saw the light that way there,’” she says. “For me, it’s a big compliment if that encourages them to get outside, because that will motivate them to protect it.” 

The South Granville ArtWalk runs on Saturday (June 21) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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