My very first post is lovingly dedicated to my Great Grandma, Di Varley. Grandma Di was a local Vernon artist who specialized mainly in porcelain painting on plates and dolls; she taught me to draw as soon as I could hold a pencil. Grandma was blessed with many inspiring artist friends and as a little girl, my first watercolour influences sprouted in the studio of Patricia Lawton, pastel portrait tips from Norma Aiken and acrylic landscape inspiration from her friend Mary Keith.
The art influence continued in Victoria BC from Grandma Di’s cousin, Bernie Evans. Bernie and I had many weekend outings to the local galleries, parks and afternoon tea times with his friends Doug and Lorie Genn. In 2000, Doug and Lorie invited me to an inspirational weekend retreat at Painters Lodge, Campbell River for “Painters at Painters” where their son Robert Genn was one of the guest artists. It was an all-star cast that weekend with 26 Artists in Residence including Fenwick Lansdowne, Toni Onley and Ted Harrison. It was the weekend that changed my direction in life and I knew on the trip home that I wanted to be an artist. Upon my return from Painters Lodge, I switched my 2nd year major at UVic from Biochemistry/Microbiology to Entrepreneurship in hopes of learning how to make a living as an artist.
I am grateful for every minute that I had with Grandma Di and Bernie. It is because of them that I had the support and courage to follow my heart and meet the influential artists that would shape my future.
Great Grandma Di showing her painting.
Cousin Bernie and Leanne on a weekend outing in Beacon Hill Park, 1999.
Great Grandma Di showing some of her porcelain work at local painting exhibition.