Doris Laner is this year’s feature artist for the fifth annual Clearwater Children’s Art Festival, which will held Wednesday, Aug. 3, at Dutch Lake Community Centre
Laner has been a prominent artist in the community for decades, with her murals adorning many community buildings such as Fleetwest and the North Thompson Sportsplex, as well as having her paintings available over the years at local art galleries and businesses.
In recent years, Laner has been an active board member of the North Thompson Arts Council, taking on the operation of the public art gallery located in the Dutch Lake Community Centre. She coordinates the volunteers for the gallery and personally helps put up and take down each exhibit every month.
Laner’s artistic endeavours began as a child growing up in Vancouver with parents who supported her love of art and provided as many opportunities as possible.
“They did everything in their power to make it available for me, like sending me to Saturday morning art classes,” she said.
She is quick to credit her education as a child and many art teachers over the years who helped to influence her love of art and nurtured her emerging talent.
“Two very important teachers of mine in high school were Mr. Joplin and Mr. Sunday. Mr. Sunday would open up the art rooms at night after supper for us to come and work on our projects,” shared Laner. “My high school had five art rooms – a graphics room, a dark room, two drawing and painting rooms and a pottery room. It was really amazing.”
She began studying at UBC in Vancouver in the Art Education Program from 1974-1977. Laner then transferred to the Vancouver School of Art (now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design), where she attended from 1977-1979.
Laner’s art has evolved over time based on her experiences.
“When I was going to art school I did nothing but portraits and thought that was all I would ever do,” said Laner. “Then, when I owned horses, I started doing western-themed images and then living up in Wells Gray Park, I moved towards landscapes.”
Laner continues to enjoy painting people and explores different mediums but primarily paints in oils.
Most recently, Laner was selected out of thousands of applicants across Canada to be one of 30 artists chosen to create 400 unique pieces of artwork that will be part of 60,000 square feet of available space in the new eight-storey Teck Acute Care Centre at BC Children’s Hospital to be completed in late 2017. Laner will create multiple paintings that will be made into both wall and ceiling murals.
She and the other selected artists are being challenged to make their mark on what could be the largest hospital art project of its kind in the country’s history. Recent research suggests that purposeful art in hospitals helps to reduce anxiety in sick children by an astonishing 75 per cent.
“I just hope that I can create something that will help comfort children who need it the most,” said Laner.
She has recently submitted her concept, which includes images of wildlife, lakes, forest and children partaking in nature such as canoeing and sitting by the campfire.
“Hopefully the children will relate to something, or an animal in the painting, or just be able to look at it and get lost in the forest for awhile,” the artist said.
Laner was selected as the feature artist for this year’s Children’s Art Festival before the news of her being chosen for the BC Children’s Hospital project, which provides yet another important reason to highlight her as a local artist.
Laner will be on-site at Dutch Lake Community Centre for the festival on Aug. 3 displaying a selection of her works, as well as creating a mural on site for the duration of the day.
“I am so thrilled that this festival even exists,” says Doris. “The more opportunities we can provide for children to express themselves through art the better.”