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Last year's winner finds inspiration in outdoors

At the urging of one of his art students, artist Kerry Vaughn Erickson decided to take part in the 2nd Annual Steveston Grand Prix of Art - an outdoor painting competition that pits artists from all across the Lower Mainland against each other in a f

At the urging of one of his art students, artist Kerry Vaughn Erickson decided to take part in the 2nd Annual Steveston Grand Prix of Art - an outdoor painting competition that pits artists from all across the Lower Mainland against each other in a friendly, fast-paced competition to paint a scene somewhere in Steveston.

"I was teaching at the Richmond Art Circle when my student told me about the Grand Prix of Art," said Erickson. "At the time, I knew nothing about it."

However, captivated by the concept of painting outdoors in bustling Steveston, Erickson signed up. On the day, he was assigned to a site looking down onto Moncton Street.

He ended up painting the Monctonstreetscape, which included a number of shops, most prominently the bike shop.

His depiction won first place. "I was pretty surprised and thrilled as well," said Erickson. "The painting ended up selling on the Sunday to someone who had a personal and sentimental connection to one of the buildings featured in it."

Erickson has been a professional artist for more than 15 years, and an instructor for a decade now.

He said he'd never been aware of other competitions of this scale before.

Erickson found new inspiration during the popular outdoor competition.

"With plein-air (open air), it's all about connecting with the outdoors, whether it be in the middle of the city, or out in the countryside," he said, adding he's looking forward to taking part in the 3rd annual Steveston Grand Prix of Art.

"It's about observing how light, which is constantly changing, affects your subject. It's just nice to feel the sun and the wind - and even a little rain like last year."

Another big fan of the competition is Mike Rossiter.

Rossiter has picked up his easel and taken part since its inception three years ago.

He's also been a big help to Mark Glavina.

Glavina, who founded the event, calls Rossiter "an all-around amazing man."

"Mike started with classes at Phoenix Art and was one of the inspirations for me opening the studio 10 years ago," added Glavina. "Mike has travelled to Cuba, Guatemala, and China with our international painting trips and he is quite accomplished.

"He is also my graphics volunteer for the Grand Prix of Art."

Rossiter shrugs the accolades and said: "It's a good chance to do something good for the community, and it gets residents engaged."

Initially, Rossiter said he was a little surprised at how successful the Grand Prix has been.

"It draws quite a crowd," he added. "Taking part as a painter is a lot of fun and people come and talk to you and they seem very interested in your art work.

"I find most people ask really intelligent questions."

He's also impressed with the volunteers.

"The volunteers make sure all the artists are comfortable at their sites," Rossiter said, adding that, for artists, the Grand Prix is also a great way to network and learn new methods.

Both Rossiter and Erickson encourage Richmondites to come out and watch some talented artists at work.

mhopkins@richmond-news.com