The same winter sun shines down on San Miguel de Allende as on Chemainus, but its hues and intensity are dampened here, the vibrant colours animating the streets of that central Mexican city doused by our moody climate and its subdued light filtered through Vancouver Island’s cloud and mists.
But artist Rohana Laing, whose Los Colores, from Mexico to Chemainus show will be featured at The Rainforest Arts gallery January through February, imports some of that equatorial vibrance almost 20 latitudinal degrees north, her palette brightening day-to-day scenes on the ‘wet coast’.
“The most common feedback I get from people, when they look at my paintings is it makes them happy,” Laing said. “If it helps people feel some joy, then I’m grateful.”
She’s fascinated by people going about their day-to-day activities – both in San Miguel and here. “I tend to be attracted to more ordinary people, people working on the streets, or people selling things, or people just engaged in ordinary activities, because I particularly find that meaningful.”
For many years San Miguel, which is known as a locale where artists from all over the world congregate, has been her winter venue, and it is the setting for many of her works. The festive hues of the town, its culture and art have become part of Laing’s palette, an influence that vivifies her B.C. canvases.
Plein air drawing is one of Laing’s favourite modes, and it has led to her latest project, Inspired by Travels, an adult colouring book. “People would often say to me, ‘Your drawings would make a really good colouring book’, and I just thought that was funny,” she recounted.
As well as sketches for people to colour, the book is a journal containing completed plein air works, accompanied by Laing’s thoughts and feelings about the places she has been and people she has met.
Winter is here, snow birds and year-rounders need cheering up on those dreary winter days, so drop in and catch some warming rays at Rainforest Arts, where you can enjoy Laing’s show and Island artists in every discipline and style.
The gallery, located at 9781 Willow St. in Chemainus, is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. More information at RainforestArts.ca or 250-246-4861. You can also email email@example.com.