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Portrait of an artist as a 62year-old man

Thirty-one years ago, Arnie Fisk was in a serious car accident. It made the longtime federal penitentiary employee reevaluate his life.

Thirty-one years ago, Arnie Fisk was in a serious car accident.

It made the longtime federal penitentiary employee reevaluate his life.

"After my accident, my wife Karen told me, 'you always wanted to paint, so why don't you?'" said the 62-year-old longtime Seafair resident. "I used to be a political cartoonist in the seventies, and I thought to myself, yes, I should."

Since that fateful day, Fisk hasn't looked back. He has carved out a successful career as a mixed-medium artist.

Today, Fisk's work hangs in private and public galleries, and is sold all over the world.

The News visited the artist at his home studio. The family's small one-car garage has been converted into an eclectic art studio. An antique leather dental chair sits centre stage; the walls are covered in his folk wooden art pieces; a well-worn easel and rows of acrylics, watercolours and a selection of his favourite paintbrushes also adorn the quaint, cozy studio.

"Most of my work today is mixed medium. I use gels, waxes, watercolour paper and objects such as sand, dirt and even coffee grounds to create my art work," said Fisk.

This Saturday, Sept. 17, Fisk will take part in the 2nd Annual Steveston Grand Prix of Art.

"I love to paint outdoors, it's such a treat for me to get out as I'm normally always in my studio," he said of taking part in the art competition. "I've been taking part in the Qualicum Beach Grand Prix of Art for 13 years now."

Fisk said the most fun, besides painting, is hanging out with like-minded individuals.

"I meet old and new friends every year at the Grand Prix of Art," he said. "We exchange ideas and you can see what others are doing.

"It's really an opportunity to get the cobwebs out and enjoy the scenery and meet the public."

Last year, Fisk was stationed outside Bean & Beyond on No. 1 Road, across from Prickly Pear Garden Centre.

With a large canvas on his easel, Fisk painted the building that houses Prickly Pear.

"It wasn't the most ideal location for me as people had to walk around me but it was a fun challenge," he added with a laugh.

This year, the veteran artist's 22yearold daughter, Carolyn Fisk, is also participating.

"Both of my daughters are artistic, Carolyn is an animation artist and my youngest, Elaine, is a dancer," said the proud father.

- Ar A recent graduate of the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Carolyn is ready to brave possibly hundreds of people watching her paint.

With a grin, she said it's a little daunting to think people will be studying her work.

Fisk credits his mother's side of the family for his own family's creative talent.

"My mom, Flossie, played six instruments and always encouraged me to paint and draw," said Fisk. "I grew up one of 13 siblings and we were relatively poor, on welfare, yet my mom found a way to scrape together enough money to buy me art supplies."

At 12, Fisk entered a cartoon drawing contest. The prize was a chance to study by correspondence at the Famous Artists School in Westport, Connecticut, where the famed artist Norman Rockwell taught.

"My mom borrowed the $75 I needed for the books," Fisk said.

Today, Fisk gets his inspiration from traveling, antiques, interesting looking people and landscapes.

"There is no end to inspiration out there," he said as he shook hands goodbye.

Come and support local artists during the second annual Steveston Grand Prix of Art on Saturday, Sept. 17. On Sunday, Sept. 18 from, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the paintings will be on display and for sale at the Britannia Heritage Shipyards.

The funds raised from the sale of each painting will go, in part, to the Richmond Artists Guild. Visitors will also have an opportunity to vote for a People's Choice award. There will be a flag to identify each location as well as a map of each location available at the Phoenix Art Workshop.

This year's event will showcase the Latin rhythms of Sangre Morena. This musical duo of vocalist Elsa Rojas Márquez and guitarist José Giménez will entertain artists, volunteers and visitors of the Grand Prix starting at 1: 15 p.m. at Britannia Heritage Shipyards.

For more information or to register, visit the website at

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