'A chance to show them as the art that they are': P.E.I. illustrators showcase original artworks

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'A chance to show them as the art that they are': P.E.I. illustrators showcase original artworks

'A chance to show them as the art that they are': P.E.I. illustrators showcase original artworks

P.E.I. illustrators have come out of their solitary studios and mounted a show of original works at The Guild Gallery in Charlottetown for the next three weeks. 

The 12-person show is part of Reading Town PEI, a week-long celebration of reading that began on P.E.I. Sunday with an authors and illustrators festival at Murphy's Community Centre and continues with events at libraries and other venues. 

"We can't talk about the fun of reading if we don't talk about the pictures that are in the books that we love!" said Becka Viau, the project director for Reading Town PEI.

Brenda Jones, Christina Patterson, Shelyse Richard, Nadine Staaf, Claudia Cotici, Julie-Lynn Zahavich, Julia Purcell, Natasha MacDonald, Yvonne Soper, Tania Pendergast, Tony Gallant and David Garcia Jimenez are all featured in the show.

"This is a chance to provide Island illustrators a chance to showcase their originals," said Viau. "Usually we see them as reproductions, and this is a chance to show them as the art that they are." 

'A great opportunity for people'

"There's surprisingly a lot of illustrators on P.E.I. It makes sense, our culture and way of life nurtures artistry," added Viau, although she doesn't have an exact number.

Christina Patterson, who's well-known in the P.E.I. wedding business for making custom cake toppers from polymer clay, is also showing off figurines she created for several children's books she and her husband Shaun Patterson have written — including Monster Babies, The Pup From Away, and Fairies on My Island. 

"I make sculptures and photograph them, so this is a great opportunity for people to see the sculptures first hand, whereas in the books they're seeing a photograph," said Patterson, showing the tiny, colourful figures she has placed under glass domes. 

Patterson discovered illustrating a few years ago after realizing books were a more permanent and public way to share her talent. 

"With shipping them [cake toppers] there's always this anxious feeling … is there going to be breakage?" she said. "So I started to think — how could I use what I'm doing as an art form and distribute them without the worry of having to mass-produce sculptures over and over again, or them breaking?"  

'Forever inspired' 

Tania Pendergast, who recently retired to P.E.I. with her husband after 20 years as a military electrical engineer, does illustrations to enhance her hand-lettering and calligraphy, which she sells on the artisan website Etsy under Bright Spot Papier and Art.

"I'm new to the Island, so it is for me a way of getting my work out there into the world, and also a great way to find out about other illustrators on the Island," said Pendergast of the show. "You can be forever inspired by other artists."

The show features a couple of Pendergast's handmade art prints — pencil drawings inked in and painted with watercolours — including a large poster based on a traditional sea shanty song, the Sailor's Alphabet, and another — appropriately for Reading Town — called Book Lover. 

Getting out of the studio

The artists look forward to meeting one another and comparing notes, as well as making their services better-known to authors who might want to hire them. 

"It's nice to get out of the house and meet people and hear, especially from the children that have read your books and to see the impact it's made on them," Patterson said. "They've really got great questions, bigger questions than you'd think! About publishing a writing and where you come up with your ideas  — so it's nice to encourage them to follow their passions and dreams." 

Viau hopes the illustrator's show and the festival foster a stronger network among artists who can promote and support one another's work. 

The show will be open to the public until May 20, and is free of charge. 

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