The natural beauty we see every day in the Rockies is what provides the inspiration for Revelstoke artist Cecilia Lea.
A collection of her oil paintings, depicting scenery from the region, are now on display in the Art Gallery of Golden, and will remain there until early June.
“I definitely like mountains. I’m a hiker, so I like to promote my mountains. A lot of them are from around here,” said Lea, who is originally from England, but has lived all over Alberta and British Columbia.
Lea found her passion for art later in life, and is eternally grateful to the woman who introduced her to it, quite forcefully.
“I was kind of forced into it by an employer. I had to take a course, and I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want anything to do with it. I had never painted in my life. That was when I was about 40,” she said.
“So I went to this weekend workshop, and I walked in with this mopey face. But after two days I came out with two paintings, and I brought them home and looked at them and thought ‘wow, I can paint.’ And that really surprised me. I’ve got to be indebted to her forever. She gave me something wonderful in life, that’s for sure.”
Since then, Lea has taken some credit courses with the College of Art, and she makes it to at least one workshop every year to learn from artists she admires, like Liz Wiltzen and Jerry Markham.
Over the years, Lea has grown as a painter.
“I love it. At first if was difficult, when I started painting I would get so frustrated. There’s so much you have to learn, it’s a constant learning process,” she said.
“The more knowledge and skills you acquire the easier it becomes.”
The collection in the Art Gallery of Golden contains paintings of all different sizes, some recent, some older, that depict scenes from our own backyard.
“I have a few favourites to. I think it depends on the association of where they are. Like I love Lake O’Hara, I worked there, and my husband and I met there. So I have a few of Lake O’Hara that I really like,” said Lea.
Every artist is bound to have a few pieces that are closer to his or her heart than others. And Lea thinks it’s important to hold onto those pieces.
“I do keep some of my best ones for myself. And then after many years I finally feel like I can part with them. But I think it’s a very good idea for an artist to keep some of their favourite ones that they really are attached to, because they disappear and you never see them again,” she said.
Sharing the work that you’ve poured you blood sweat and tears into can be a very nerve-racking experience for a lot of artists. But Lea is happy to have her art on display for everyone to see.
“I feel confident, and if somebody likes the art and buys it I’m thrilled. And if they don’t, butI still meet an interesting person and I have a nice chat with them, than that’s a pleasure too.”