Local artists take the mundane out of Monday

Karen Butchart looks over her sketchbook during a meeting of the Monday Painters. She is a featured artist in the club’s upcoming gallery show. (Adam Louis/Observer)Karen Butchart looks over her sketchbook during a meeting of the Monday Painters. She is a featured artist in the club’s upcoming gallery show. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Norma Smith poses with a landscape she’s created. Smith is a featured artist in the upcoming Monday Painters show at the United Church in Agassiz at the end of the month. (Adam Louis/Observer)Norma Smith poses with a landscape she’s created. Smith is a featured artist in the upcoming Monday Painters show at the United Church in Agassiz at the end of the month. (Adam Louis/Observer)
(Adam Louis/Observer)(Adam Louis/Observer)
Karen Butchart’s painting style features bright colours and bold patterns. (Adam Louis/Observer)Karen Butchart’s painting style features bright colours and bold patterns. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Norma Smith sometimes paints rocks with various patterns. (Adam Louis/Observer)Norma Smith sometimes paints rocks with various patterns. (Adam Louis/Observer)

Little by little, the artists trickled in to a tucked-away room at Agassiz United Church.

The air was filled with small talk, laughter and a side of pleasant instrumental music. Soon enough, it was down to business. Brushes went to paint, scratch art tools carved an image out of an inky canvas and sketchbooks opened.

The Agassiz Monday Painters created their own oasis of expression among the drudgery of the first day of the traditional workweek.

The painters will have their work featured in the upcoming Monday Painters Art Exhibition at the Agassiz-Harrison Museum, running April 20 to May 17. At the end of April, the Monday Painters will also host their 61st annual gallery show at the Agassiz United Church, featuring artists Karen Butchart and Norma Smith.

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Though Butchart does not come to the Monday sessions as often as she’d like due to her health, her desire to create goes on and on.

“I work really small now because when you’re older, you don’t have as much energy, and I find it really does take energy to make good art,” she explained. She had a yet-to-be-finished sketchbook with tiny works ranging from cartoons to intricate patterns. “I constantly get ideas.”

Butchart’s style features bold, defined lines, bright colours and elaborate patterns. She has sold works in Canada, the States and in Europe.

“All my pictures come from my mind, but they can be based on something real,” she said. “They’re all in my imagination.”

The subjects of her art vary from landscapes to people to animals.

“A lot of my art, to me, is funny,” Butchart said. “I want you to laugh at it! So I make the expressions on dogs or cats or whatever…funny so you laugh.”

Butchart’s art is reflective of who she is – colourful and one of a kind. She was dressed as colourful as her paintings, donned in a mustard-yellow coat, oversized gold beads and hints of lavender in her hair.

“You want to realize your work is original; nobody can do it like you can,” she said. “Your line is not like anybody else’s, so you can do something totally different. If you can accept that, you can go full blast ahead, in anything you do in life.”

As she fights cancer, art school graduate Norma Smith finds solace in her painting. She has experimented with multiple painting methods from acrylic to watercolour to painting rocks. Smith said the type of art she does is dependent on the setting.

“When I’m doing abstract work, I need nobody around,” she added. “Then I can just kind of intuitively know what I want to do next.”

RELATED: VIDEO: Monday Painters celebrate 58 years of Agassiz art

Smith said some artists she knows had difficulties staying inspired during the peaks of the pandemic, in no small part due to the social bonding experiences of clubs like the Monday Painters.

“You think ‘oh, I’ve got lots of time to paint,’ but there’s no motivation to do it,” Smith said. “It’s interesting how that goes, if you’re social especially. It’s hard to stay home all the time. But it was better to stay home rather than catch COVID.”

Smith once owned a couple of businesses and had no time to paint.

“When I first started coming here, it was to get me out of the house,” she said. “And a lot of (the Monday Painters) thought I just started painting, but it doesn’t take long to get caught up on stuff when you start painting again.”

The Agassiz Monday Painters’ 61st annual show is Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 40 p.m. at Agassiz United Church Hall (6860 Lougheed Hwy). More than 20 members will be showcasing their best work.

The Monday Painter’s Exhibition at the Agassiz-Harrison Museum (7011 Pioneer Avenue) is on display Wednesday through Saturday, April 20 to May 17 , from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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