Artist Leonard Barrett at Pearl Ellis

Appearing at the Pearl Ellis Gallery July 9—21 is Nanaimo artist Leonard Barrett, who hosts a public reception Saturday from 1-4 p.m.

Appearing at the Pearl Ellis Gallery July 9—21 is Nanaimo artist Leonard Barrett, who hosts a public reception Saturday from 1-4 p.m.

Barrett started painting in Saskatoon at age 14 when he had hopes of becoming a commercial artist.

In the early-’60s, he, his wife and two sons moved to Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island, where the self-taught artist became interested in painting local people.

When they moved to B.C. Barrett studied commercial art, which he found less satisfying than hoped.

“You can only design so many soup can labels before you become bored, so I began to channel all my energies into fine art,” Barrett said.

Today, he has changed from portraits towards impressionism — a drastic change from his earlier work.

Barrett enjoys working in soft pastels and oils because they both flow for him. He finds he can move the media around any way he wants, and dig in deep and get behind things.

His show at Pearl Ellis will be a reflection of his recent moods. A compulsive painter, Barrett often doesn’t clean his brushes properly. He will just give them a good wipe and dunk them into another colour.

“If I could no longer paint I believe that I would go mad, perhaps, more mad than I all ready am,” Barrett said.

All of the old masters are Barrett’s favourite painters.  He thinks he understands Picasso the best as he feels he can relate to him.

Barrett likes to carry a sketch pad wherever he goes. Most ideas come from his imagination. He often uses photographs to paint portraits. Some of his images, such as totems, are often mixed with other images. This doesn’t always appeal to those who view his art, but Barrett feels it’s cool to match certain subjects. Whenever he goes on holiday he is sure to take his chalks.

“There isn’t a piece of work that I do that I consider finished,” said Barrett, who often touches up old pieces.

He doesn’t dare take his paints to a show because he would be trying to fix something on one of his pieces.

Those who view his work will find a bit of everything. He finds the most satisfaction and happiness with pieces that are a little different. He feels that no two artists are alike. Barrett strives to put his own unique, distinct style into each piece.

“Come on out and enjoy something a little different. I dare you.”

The gallery is at 1729 Comox Ave., open Tuesday-Saturday from 10-4 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m.  Admission is free.

www.pearlellisgallery.com. Call 250-339-2822.

Membership fees are $20 a year, which support gallery programs.

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