There are certain organizations out there that play a powerful role in helping to shape a person’s particular gift or ability.
That’s been part of the mandate and vision of the Lacombe Art Guild since its inception back in 2007.
Founding members included Betty Peers, Bob Creurer, Marlene Pavely, Jeanette Van Hyfte and Ellenor Belair.
“They started to conduct classes,” explained June Lundie, the Guild’s current president. “And they slowly built the club up to about 20 members. They would have elections every fall because the annual/general meeting for the members was in October every year.”
Paintings were and are featured at the Lacombe Memorial Centre. And, as Lundie pointed out, growth continued to be a defining feature of the Guild as more folks signed on for classes and took advantage of top-notch teachers and instructors who would come to the City to share their expertise.
“We are such an art community – and even though we are small, our presence is pretty big,” said Lundie. “Especially over the past three or four years as we branched out to the restaurants and people from out of town are looking at our art.
“It’s exciting. And with our classes, we are bringing in some pretty big heavy hitters as instructors.” There is also a diversity amongst the folks that come to teach – classes run two Tuesday evenings each month and one full Saturday per month from October to May.
“We sit down over the summer, and we pick most of our artists then. The class dates are also set up, so when we put it all on our facebook page, people know ahead of time what’s coming up. They can say, ‘Sign me up!’
“We are also going to be sitting down with a teacher at the high school here who is going to set up our web page for us, so that’s exciting too.”
For Lundie, it’s been an absolute joy belonging to the Guild. And the feedback has been consistently fabulous.
“If we have had a complaint, I can’t even think of what it was. It’s been completely positive,” she said with smile. “People say, ‘Oh this was a great class’, ‘I loved it’, ‘Thanks so much – it was so fun’.
“I always say that even if you learn just one thing – even as an experienced painter – if you pick up one thing from the class, you are doing well.” Lundie herself is of course an artist, too, and finds it a wonderful and fulfilling venture all its own.
She paints in acrylic mainly, and started out doing landscapes, she recalled.
She and her husband live in an almost 100-year-old house. “My husband’s great-grandfather homesteaded there and built it – and it’s a beautiful home.
“I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since high school. One day I thought, I’m going to paint this house. Don’t ask me what took over me, this was about seven or eight years ago! I said I’m going to paint this house – and I don’t know why. It was the strangest thing.”
Initially, she didn’t know exactly how to make that dream a reality. “I didn’t know there was a Guild in town, so got ahold of Laverne Jones at The Gallery on Main and said, could you help me out? She said she wasn’t doing classes at the time, but she said there’s this fellow – Doug Strickland. Talk about a man that is so unbelievably talented,” added Lundie reflectively. “He has a style all of his own. And talk about making a painting come to life – he did that.
“He was a huge, huge influence,” she said. “He also started teaching classes. And he taught me how to paint. He assisted me in the beginning of my painting career. I started from there, and then I got hooked up with the Guild. And it’s been a growing experience from there.”
Strickland was particularly drawn to First Nations culture, and as Lundie pointed out, his talents are utterly striking.
An early gift for drawing was also spotted by a teacher, and over the years that gift spilled over into a powerful knack for painting and sculpture as well.
His popularity spread as he entered adulthood — pieces can be seen in museums and galleries around the world.
He eventually found work with the CBC in Toronto doing artwork and designing sets. His skills ultimately led him to Los Angeles to work for NBC.
In the meantime, Lundie said she loves much about her craft, particularly the notion of making paintings come alive.
“One of the things I love about artwork is that when you look at a painting, especially a landscape, it feels like you can just walk right into it. I love that – it’s like you are there.”
As for the Lacombe Art Guild, she said the goal these days is to continue to increase the membership, which they have actually done each and every year since the group was launched. Members are also looking to the younger generations to come onboard.
“One of the big things that we have really tried to do – and I think it’s starting – is that we really want to get the high school students to join, too.”
For more information about the Lacombe Art Guild, find them on facebook under ‘Lacombe Art Guild’. Watch for more details on the new web site this fall. “We are hoping to have it launched before the annual/general meeting.”