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Why Vancouver? Why You?

Thank you to all entrants. Please visit the semifinalist page to view the top ten essays as determined by our panel and the public voting. Click here to view the top ten

A Painters Paradise

By Sue de Leeuw

Diamonds are a rare gem we know and can be characterized by their clarity, carat, cut and colour.  I like to compare the City of Vancouver as a diamond.  Its rich culture, charm, climate and characters make it a real gem of a place to live.

Passionate about painting en plein air, (on location) I am totally in awe by its’ rare beauty and temperate climate.  Arriving here in the early 90’s, I decided to live closer to my family and felt it was an ideal city to network with other artists and begin a free-lancing career as well.

I was able to procure commissioned works and painted wall murals and copious watercolors of landscapes from Whistler and beyond.  There is nothing more inspiring and exhilarating than sitting at Spanish Banks on a sunny summer day, with its incredible ocean and mountain view, painting that “special moment in time.” It  leaves me feeling, satisfied, happy, whole and totally complete.

People seem to be attracted to a painter and I have met many and interesting and

colorful character.  It seems all walks of life dwell in this city and one cannot judge a book by it’s’

cover.  Sketching one day in Steveston a poorly and unkempt individual approached me to talk and

I was blown away by all the knowledge of art and artists, he knew. Also while painting on a ridge on top of  Seventh Heaven in Whistler in the snow, I was suddenly invited to be THE witness to a particular wedding.   A bride and groom in hiking boots and shorts along with a pastor held the ceremony right then and there with me holding my brushes as a bouquet.  My gift to them was my completed watercolor, of course. Different cultures and their people also make for interesting subjects to paint. Almost every weekend in the summer months there is a festival represented by one of our diverse and colorful groups representing many different countries.  I attend as many as possible to take in the delicious food, music , wares and festivities. It makes me feel alive and happy to be a part of this community.

Encounters with the local wildlife are rare, but also occur in the city.  On one such expedition of the Serpentine R. in White Rock a mallard duck took off to the water, with one my most expensive sable brushes. Chasing him was hilarious to watch but coaxing him to drop it by a slight tap on his head, was even more humorous.  He complied with a lot of squawking.

I also met a golden retriever at the Finn Slough in Richmond who drank my brush water, watched me paint and refused to leave when called. He was fascinated and I became HIS best friend.

Rainy season brings out scents and aromas of fresh mowed grass, luscious flowers mixed with the salt and sea air. It also cleans the streets so I really do not mind the rain, as I know the sun will shine again. Besides it’s time to paint indoors from my photos of the summer months.

If it does snow, the landscapes are incredible-so crisp and white and fluorescent.  The snow highlights the amazing palette of colours underneath it. Snow makes feel rejuvenated and re-born and I like to capture this in my paintings.

My favorite place to paint in October is the Westham Island Herb Farm, where the owners create an amazing Thanksgiving/Halloween fun place to go. They utilize their gourds, pumpkins, produce, and even dummies to make an amazing festival, complete with a spook house.

While painting,  many a tourist greets me to talk about the amazing place it is.

The charm of this city is its’ rich history and that would be seen in places like Gastown and Chinatown.  There are some beautiful heritage houses with character that are worth sketching .  I enjoyed painting the old wooden fishing boats of Steveston, and was lucky enough to paint a large mural of the Maple Bay on a café wall.  During that time I met and spoke with many locals and got to know some old-timers where I learned about the fishing industry of the area.  One local phoned a newspaper and lucky for me I had my 15 minutes of fame, on the  front page spread and article in the local rag.

So where else in the entire world can one paint and be inspired by so many great subjects  in a wonderful climate surrounded by fascinating people.?

The City of Vancouver,  —a  rare GEM of a find- —  and I am here to stay


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