A real labour of love will be on display

Sheila MacDonald Roberts’ longtime passion for painting and for northern Canada will be featured in exhibit

After winning the Curator’s Choice Award at last year’s spring exhibition, Elmira painter Sheila MacDonald Roberts will have her own exhibit at the Homer Watson Gallery in Kitchener, opening this weekend.

The exhibit will be showing a collection of landscapes, highlighting her passion for northern Canada – a love she hopes she can share with gallery guests and other artists.

“I love the feeling you have of space up there. The people are different. They are wonderful. Everybody seems to care for each other. It is a whole different world up there, and I love it. It lives in my heart. There is something about the north, not only do you love it, but you need to keep it pure,” she said. “As soon as you get north of Orillia, all of a sudden the air changes, you can smell it. I spent 10 years up north working in a fishing lodge and it was wonderful. The air smells so good. I try to capture that in my paintings.”

MacDonald Roberts can’t wait to see her paintings on the wall of the Homer Watson Gallery again. She says the venue is one of only a few in the area showing local artists, getting local work out to the public.

“Because there are so many good, good artists in this area and there is very little in the opportunity to exhibit. The Homer Watson Gallery is just a wonderful facility. It is marvelous. There just aren’t enough opportunities. Outside of the Homer Watson, can you think of a bigger gallery that displays local artists? There is nowhere,” she said, lamenting the current local art scene. “There are a few small ones in Guelph, but they are fairly limited. There is some really good work coming out of this area – some wonderful painters. Our membership in the Kitchener Waterloo Society of Artists is growing all the time. I think we have about 100 members and they are active painters.”

For MacDonald Roberts, painting has been a lifelong passion, starting when she was very young, growing up north of Thunder Bay in Pickle Crow, a small gold mining town. She has studied with famous Canadian artists, and traveled the world picking up different techniques and styles. It is an escape.

“I don’t know what it is. I started to paint when I was five or six. I started winning prizes at nine, and started taking my first serious lessons. I have done it every weekend, and it was just like the world opened up to me every Saturday,” she said. “You would go out painting in the morning. I just live for that. I was a rather withdrawn kid, kind of shy and my interests weren’t really what other kids had.”

This year’s spring exhibition at the Homer Watson Gallery opens with a reception on Mar. 20 from 2-4 p.m. and along with food and drinks, features meet and greets with local artists with their works hanging on the Homer Watson walls. There will also be announcements for the Homer Watson Legacy Award, this year’s Curator’s Choice Award, the top three Juror’s Choice awards, and honourable mentions. The paintings featured in the  exhibit are being selected and judged this week, and will be revealed at the reception.

For more information about MacDonald Roberts’ works and background, visit her website at www.macdonaldroberts.com and for more info on the Homer Watson Gallery and upcoming events, visit www.homerwatson.on.ca.

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