Painter draws inspiration from O’Keeffe, Carr

Trish Clarke-Jennings took a slightly unconventional route to becoming a painter. She didn’t start as an eagerly sketching youngster – she grew up doing needlework, painstakingly creating images one stitch at a time.

“I can see how it’s influenced me, because I get really picky,” said Clarke-Jennings.

She finally switched over from holding a needle to holding a paintbrush, out of frustration.

“I came to the conclusion I don’t like counting,” she said of the process of carefully watching your fabric and stitches.

“This is so much freer,” she said of her painting.

She was exposed to paintings first at her greatgrandmother’s home, where she had a clear memory of seeing a large painting hanging in the living room. After that initial fascination and her decision to give up needlework, it was a friend’s invitation to take a class on learning to draw that finally got her involved in the art world 32 years ago.

Clarke-Jennings took classes at Kwantlen Polytechnic and the Academy of Art, and she began working on her own.

“A sketchbook, you can take with you anytime,” she noted.

Some of her biggest artistic inspirations are three women: Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, and British Columbia’s Emily Carr.

Jumping between art forms, Clarke-Jennings said she often interprets paintings in metaphors drawn from music.

“Every one of those ladies painted in a different musical style,” said Clarke-Jennings.

Carr’s majestic deepgreen West Coast trees are “symphonic,” while

O’Keefe’s paintings of flowers and New Mexico are “jazzier.”

“It’s like I could hear music while I was looking at these paintings,” she said.

She listens to music while painting, and often changes songs to suit the mood for the work in progress. The huge red flower in her current show was painted with Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Clarke-Jennings painted for many years while working with her family running a Langley import business. Sometimes she could get lost in the process, she said.

“You just go into this zone, and the next thing you know, it’s way later than you thought,” she said. “It’s nice when you can get to that place.”

The show runs from June 1 to 30 at ABC Fine Art Gallery, in downtown Langley.

The show, like her painting career, began in a roundabout way. A conversation at the Bloomin’ Artists Gift Gallery in Langley City led to a suggestion of making some prints to sell, with proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society.

She went to ABC Fine Art owner Toby Malek, who shows work by local artists and makes prints.

After he saw the pieces considered for prints, she was offered the show.

He said he wants to foster the local art community in Langley, and is hosting a solo show each month at his gallery, each one with a specific theme.

The prints will be up for purchase at both Bloomin’ Artists and at McBurney’s Coffee & Tea House.

To see all 30 paintings, spanning five years of Clarke-Jenkins’s work, visit the ABC gallery, at 20573 Fraser Hwy. A reception for the exhibition will be held June 5, from 5-7:30 p.m. This is Clarke-Jennings’s second solo show.