Upper Clearwater artist Doris Laner is well known for her paintings of Wells Gray Park and area.
However, she was already an accomplished artist before she came to this area. “A Portrait Retrospective” is a show of her earlier works being put on until March 28 at the North Thompson Art Council’s gallery in Dutch Lake Community Center.
The gallery is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
This exhibition represents the time in Doris’s life where, as she puts it, she “… made a conscious intent to pursue a life of artistic development”. Portraits dominated her early works; Ms. Laner found them fascinating throughout high school. It was these early years that would lay the groundwork, a beginning, for an early obsession, a time when she couldn’t imagine painting anything else.
The earliest painting in this exhibit, spanning almost 40 years ago, was done when she was enrolled in the arts education program at UBC. Ms. Laner proclaims this as a “time of exciting exploration”, where those three years proved to be highly influential to her career as a painter. Her path was crossed by a wonderful collection of people, from incredible instructors to her fellow students, each shaping, aiding or inspiring her in some way, towards her success. One instructor in particular stood out to Ms. Laner, her mentor Jack Darcus – he is portrayed in one of the portraits on display.
Upon completing her program at UBC she transferred to the Vancouver School of Art (now called Emily Carr University of Art + Design) for two years. Here she encountered a whole new world of influence and perspective.
Ms. Laner brought with her this early influence and the style of painting when she moved to Clearwater in 1979. Doris relays that her style is far more expressionist now, “… worlds apart from my beginnings … as if they were done several lifetimes ago.” What they do hold true, however, is Doris’s youthful enthusiasm and curiosity. It is easy to see how important shape was to her compositions. Now she continues, “The spaces around the figure and the shapes of forms and shadows are given importance to the work I do now.”
In speaking of a couple of select pieces in the exhibit, Ms. Laner explained, “Portraits are moments in time as well as images of a particular person, like my portrait of Diane” and “Pen.”
Some may cringe at seeing a mother smoking near her child, but this was before the hazards of second hand smoke were known. Rest assured we were outdoors during the painting session.”
Ms. Laner’s hope is that this collection of early work opens the door of insight to how support and positive influence can inspire a lifelong exploration into creative expression.
Doris offers a long warm smile and says, “I am grateful for it all and couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling life.”