Spring Colour

Spring Colours

There’s a beautiful wildness in the spring colour that’s bursting out everywhere in Victoria as I write. “Dehiscence” is the biological word that describes the spontaneous rupture of flower buds or plant fruit pods that happens at this time, as plants become energised in the warmer weather and increasing daylight. In our human world this energy is infectious. Spring fever. The extra hours of sunlight are welcome as we enjoy longer natural light even in my studio. (See the new painting done Friday March 9). Although much of the universe appears mysterious, through observation, we can detect patterns and interpret meaning. Similarly, the often mystical experience of painting offers a new view of emerging landscapes, or those currently hidden.

Please celebrate with me the power of colour that is given to us in flowers, so that they can express their attractiveness to other creatures in the ecosystem. As an artist, my current journey will take me to a tracing family roots with some of architecture and landscape associated with that. Please stand by for reports and images as this unfolds!

COMING FROM NOWHERE now a reality!

Celebration after a lot of peoples’ hard work!

The show is hung and is now open at the Galiano Island Community Library. Please come and enjoy!

The show is open from September 6th until October 27th, 2017.

The hours are:
Wed – Sun: 11am – 2pm
Extended hours Thur: 2pm-5pm

At #2 – 1290 Sturdies Bay Road, Galiano Island, BC

Here is a price list of the paintings in the show that you can download.


“Coming from Nowhere”: Thoughts Beyond Reality migrates to the Gulf Islands!

For the months of September and October 2017, Galiano Island Community Library will host the Barbara Wilson paintings of “COMING FROM NOWHERE: Thoughts Beyond Reality”. The show will be available from September 6th until October 27th, welcoming Gulf Island locals as well as tourists who might enjoy a day trip from Victoria to see the exhibition.



The Galiano library will offer a unique setting with its variety of spaces – each one inviting a look at different aspects of the work. The show consists of mainly abstracts, but with a few more recognizably figurative pieces from earlier periods of painting so that the viewer may see a continuity of the expressive gestural style that has evolved over long years of painting – effort that is also enjoyable.



There will be no opening ceremony or scheduled artist talk. However, on Thursday September the 14th, Barbara will welcome guests in the library between noon and 4pm for informal conversation. She hopes to see you there!

COMING FROM NOWHERE: Thoughts Beyond Reality

Here’s a press release for my new show. Also note that I’ll be teaching a painting course at Island Mountain Arts. Click here for details.

New exhibit by Victoria-based painter Barbara Wilson

Cariboo art lovers are about to get a chance to celebrate the life’s work of one of their own with the opening of a new show in Wells this month. Barbara Wilson once owned and operated the Wells Hotel, using sales of her artwork to help create and maintain the hotel and gallery as a BC Cariboo Gold Rush heritage attraction.

Barb and Jenifer compiling the work for shipping to Wells

Born in Winnipeg and growing up mostly in BC, she returns to the Cariboo in May for a new 35-piece exhibit of her work. While not a true retrospective, it remains an opportunity to see Wilson’s current work in the context of a small selection of her past pieces, which were influenced by her training in physics, architecture, and math as well as her passion for dance and new classical music.  They also focus on three primary locations: Barkerville and Mackenzie in BC, and Taiwan.

Since 2012, Wilson’s practice is to meditate until no preconceived forms remain in her mind, and only then touch the canvas.. Speaking to her process, Wilson says, ”Going into the canvas is like practising a martial art. Painting is a connection to the breath. We can, through art, connect with the sense rhythms of the body. Painting can be holotropic, a shamanic dance, precipitating an altered state.”

Wilson’s gestural style developed over years of painting and drawing in many genres including landscape, observed architecture and figure.  Pure abstraction has now become her main focus; it is this process of gestural expression moving toward pure abstraction that Wilson brings to IMA this year.

Jennifer Iredale curated this exhibition; she was a long-time curator of Barkerville; she recently retired as head of Heritage for the BC Government

Reflecting on more than 60 years of art practice, Wilson muses: “Now I put the work out as a personal history writ large, deriving from myriad wonderful personal connections and coincidences.”

WHO: Barbara Wilson art exhibit

WHAT: Coming From Nowhere: Thoughts Beyond Reality

WHEN: May 19 – June 12

WHAT TIME: Opening: May 19, 7 pm (Regular Gallery hours 11 – 5, Tuesday to Saturday)

WHERE: Island Mountain Arts Gallery 2323 Pooley Street, Wells BC


Barb Wilson 778-433-0803 or Island Mountain Arts 1-800-944-3433


photoIn Victoria you can’t escape the presence of our beloved Emily Carr.

Visitors coming to Victoria are often introduced to the presence of larger-than-life Emily first, perhaps, at the bronze statue by sculptor Barbara Paterson which stands on the handsomely refurbished grounds of Empress Hotel. A trip to nearby Carr House, Emily’s birthplace, on Government Street will further acquaint the visitor with Emily’s early life providing inspiration for a to visit the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, where significant Carr works are displayed.

Many artists have found resonance with Emily Carr. This past year an exhibit at Vancouver Art Gallery featured works by contemporary Canadian artist Landon Mackenzie finding relationship between her own work and that of Emily Carr. About twenty years ago my own work was shown in the Peoples Gallery at Carr House. The exhibition was called “Emily and I, Parallels and Possibities”. At that time I dressed in costume as Emily, giving tours of the nearby geography associated with Carr, as well as offering classes in sketching outside in the garden at Carr House.

So there is an ongoing Carr legacy of what moves artists to paint with passion and authenticity, but this poses several questions in my mind: How can one’s work achieve an independence from the powerful influence of style of such an iconic artist as Carr? Can one paint in the spirit of a strong artist but not copy? Is the work derivative?

What are your thoughts?

Art Heist

While quietly exercising in the gym at my condo a few days ago, the building caretaker came over wearing a very sad face and told me to check my storage locker as there had been a break-in overnight. I have two lockers, one only for paintings, but I had always chuckled to myself that no criminal would ever want one of Barbara Wilson’s wild paintings. Indeed I did check the paintings locker to find it open with padlock cut, paintings somewhat disturbed and a suitcase there that wasn’t mine. Not wanting to disturb the crime scene further I rushed to a nearby local shop for a new padlock and then it dawned on me. All the large and best framed paintings were missing. I hadn’t remembered frames in the disarray of the locker. Checking it out against my written inventory list – indeed twelve paintings were missing. Ha ha – they knew the good stuff! But how could anyone who was a thief really like “that kind” of art? They were pieces that wouldn’t easily fit into even a large a car, and how would a crook unload them in the city. A close friend in the art gallery business told me to write it off, as I would never see them again. I was a little sad, but still perversely flattered that the theft had occurred. For years I have left valuable paintings outside the various places I’ve lived- an outdoor gallery was my garden yet no one ventured to take a piece.

That night I went to sleep easily but awoke in the night with the realisation of just how much had been taken from me. There was very significant financial loss. My paintings had been my money in the bank, my hopes for future travel and a small legacy for my family. More importantly, it was the experience of losing a soul – a real soul in a significant body of work. True, as a practicing artist, one must early on learn to part with one’s own work, but the soul had been lost here, because I had failed to follow through on documentation and thus would have no archival memory. When the police called the next morning to initiate investigation I promised photos, which I then couldn’t find. They could have sample images sample of my work but not a numbered image for each piece lost, according to my inventory list. Photos had been taken but were mislaid on someone else’s computer.

So here’s the happy ending. Four days after the heist, the Crime Reduction unit of Victoria Police Department knocked on my door to say they believed they had found the paintings, and after confirming they were mine they delivered them into my living space. There was no damage to paintings or frames despite all the handling they must have endured. I remain deeply grateful to the police and to others who helped solve the mystery.

Lessons learned? Get out there and paint more. My (and your) work really has a value. It has a meaning in the scheme of things. Do the work to find the exhibition space to have it shown, rather than having it languish in a locker – risk testing its real world value, critical and financial.

Were friends there when I needed them? Yes. They rallied to help document the loss and went on to document the even newer work that was stored elsewhere. Considering it urgently prudent, I engaged a professional photographer friend to shoot a record of the newer work.

The more important long term big step is to find help to document 60 years of painting from a patchwork of records, fragments of artist statements, and news clipping. And finally maybe there is a story to tell – what it is about art that is so important, that we have to lose it to find it.
Post script.
In a less stressed look at the inventory there is one missing painting still out there. It is called “First Painting of Summer”, size 30 x 24 , acrylic, us framed . It is valued at $750.


First Painting of Summer

First Painting of Summer – on the right easel


A summer of painting every day in studio space at Vancouver island School of Arts was inspired by my May 2014 visit to Shanghai. Coming home with a giant sized calligraphy brush I began her new series with bold marks of Chinese ink on the canvas which were then followed up by an attack of acrylic colour further developing the forms in the almost dry ink. Some of the pieces were then finished in oil. In contrast to the colourful field paintings from summer 2013, my new works were generally dark and somber requiring the viewer to engage with a sublime yet melancholic vision of existence. A heavy texture on the canvas resulted from working a large rainbow range of pigments and vigorously brushing or palette knifing the colour into spontaneous mixtures, a kind of deeply massaged harmony emerging from the struggle.
Going to the studio in Quadra Village every day meant a bus ride followed by a pleasant walk past homes, playgrounds, and community gardens which changed in colour and fragrance as summer progressed. The smell of fresh ground coffee from the famous Cafe Fantastico was the last sensual delight on the street before turning to climb creaky stairs into the studio for the pleasure of reviewing what had been done the day before. The studio was a shared space with other artists who work independently and diligently, offering quiet companionship without intrusion. At the end of summer, as art works were packed up to come home, the art school had its exterior transformed by a clearing of years of overgrown bushes, which had obscured the handsome arts and crafts structure, designed a hundred years ago. This building was then painted in an ultra-contemporary colour pattern designed by VISA instructor Xane Phillip. Quite a summer.

Victoria Art Salon

Barbara Wilson made her Victoria debut on Sunday September 15th with an “art salon,” which opened at The Aria on Humboldt Street. The exhibition consists of 44 paintings, of which 25 are new works created in July and August. Cutting the ribbon for the gala occasion was Jack Lohman, newly appointed director of the Royal BC Museum. Victoria Councillor Pam Madoff (photo) was a guest for the evening. The paintings were given a second viewing to many artist friends and their friends on September 22nd.

Contact Barbara for a private viewing by appointment.



There comes a time when the canvases pile up, some finished but unsigned, some good, others  passable but  in need of  some tweaking , and others that have gone nowhere and need to be painted over. Those of you who paint will know the value of painting over old works. There is an energy that comes through the gesso one may apply to create a fresh surface but often a completely new work results from painting directly over the old painting and transforming it to something completely new and wonderful.


My last posting of over a year ago was “Government House”: look how that experience  transformed into an unrelated non- objective work. For me painting is a process of layering and building up. My new exhibition  consisting of   20+  works, all abstract,  was painted  this summer in a period of  five weeks thanks to studio space at Vancouver Island School of Arts.  I invite your comment..