Editor’s note: This is the fifth and final instalment of a five-part series on the Tour of the Arts, Invermere’s annual art gala taking place on Sunday (August 5). Each story has featured one artist from each of the five tour locations. Artist Donna Deschenes’ work will be on display at site no. 5.
Having grown up all over the world with the armed forces, Tour of the Arts artist Donna Deschenes has had no shortage of beautiful landscapes to paint and illustrate, but says the Columbia Valley has offered her the most compelling material to date.
“Getting lost in [art], it’s incredible to me that you can sit down and start working on something, and hours can go by,” Deschenes said. “In the end, it’s almost always something that you’re really happy to have been involved with; it’s just really fun and really gratifying.”
Deschenes began painting a number of years ago when she was in high school. She said she had always been known for painting and illustrating, right down to the time an English teacher let her illustrate a book report as opposed to writing one and since that time she wondered if it would be possible to turn her love of art into a career.
“I was vaguely interested to know how you could parlay that into a career, which I ended up doing so it all worked out really well,” Deschenes laughed.
She ended up going to school for graphic design then started her own graphic design and advertising business which she has operated for the past 27 years. The downside of opening a graphic design business is that she had very little time or enthusiasm for artwork that wasn’t work-related and, as such, she began to drift away from her love of painting.
“Our industry became so computerized that you don’t end up really doing anything with your hands,” Deschenes explained. “You’re still a creative thinker but you’re using computers and equipment like that to get your end result.”
As a result, Deschenes said she only began painting again about 10 years ago after deciding to take a painting class in her spare time. She said she rediscovered her love of painting landscapes, using a new water-based oil paint, and has even begun to add in new subjects like animals.
“It took a few years before anything half-decent was happening,” Deschenes joked. “I just hope that when people look at my art they like what they see, I’m not sure I try and invoke any particular emotion, although sometimes they do… there have been times when people see a painting and it will trigger something from their past, and they can get really emotional about it.”
Deschenes first participated in the Tour of the Arts in 2009, at which time she was merely a tourist. She had such an incredible experience that she decided she wanted to become involved as an artist and first participated in this capacity in 2010. She said everyone involved with the tour is always extremely friendly and she has really enjoyed meeting all the other Columbia Valley artists.
“We were blown away not only by the venues, but the art too, everything seemed so great,” Deschenes said. “It’s really fun to meet all the people and and talk to everyone that walks through, I found it very social and very enjoyable.”
Deschenes will be displaying somewhere around 20 painting of various sizes and will share site number five — the home of Robin and Mark Shmigelsky on Toby Ridge Road — with Pat Bavin, Suzette Dunphy, Susan Fahrni, Sherry Mallach, Karen McColl, Samantha Millard and Cathy Parkes.
“I think the tour is great for the valley,” Deschenes said. “To be able to have all these people travelling to all these different locations you would never see normally… I’m really pleased and honoured to be a part of it.”