Beyond Boundaries Virtual Gallery

May 3, 2021

“Being comfortable with being uncomfortable”


During these times, pushing ourselves beyond our perceived creative limits can generate meaningful change – within us, in our communities or even the world at large. So let’s dare to step outside the box, try something new and see how far we can go!


We would like to thank everyone who participated in this Beyond Boundaries Gallery. The artwork and stories submitted have shown the vast challenges that we as artists can overcome. We hope preparing for the Beyond Boundaries Gallery has helped you to get to the next level, pushed you to try new things, and challenged you to step outside of your comfort zone. As artists, we’re always learning, always trying something new, but to get to the next level, we need to go beyond boundaries.


We hope this inspires you to keep challenging yourself to try out new things or pick up something you haven’t tried for a while.



Shannon Lester, ‘Gray Whale Spy Hop’Acrylic on Canvas

This challenge is about presenting work that has pushed you beyond your comfort zone. This is a relatively simple painting of a gray whale but the circumstance under which I painted it is quite important to me. In February I was bedridden due to a herniated disc. I didn’t paint for a month because I couldn’t sit in the studio and I was in a lot of pain. After a month of not being able to paint I challenged myself to move beyond my pain and limitations and I started painting in bed Frida Kahlo style! This was one of my first paintings in bed and I have been painting daily in bed since (up until I was hospitalized). Though it is challenging and I can’t really work very large, and the lighting in my bedroom sucks I am very thankful I can still paint during my recovery. The good news is I am on the mend, walking again and improving every day. Home from the hospital now and doing much better. Still can’t sit in that studio chair but I will soon! Whales represent to me perseverance despite very difficult odds. They are such peaceful amazing creatures yet they face many challenges due to human activities including global warming, fishing gear entanglement and plastic and other pollution. Their kindness and grace amaze me despite how terribly we treat their home. Gray whales are particularly friendly and even love belly rubs from whale watchers whom they often visit very close to their boats. We also have gray whales that visit off the BC coast. ‘Gray Whale Spy Hop’, 18×24, Acrylic on Canvas, 2021.



Nancy Fair, Painter


This is a small watercolour that opened my eyes to being free and letting the different brushes do the work. I always thought my art had to be very precise. While testing each brush very loosely I began to create an image different from what I have done before. Now I strive to do this going forward.





Denise (Deni) Hook, Artist Vancouver Island

This painting challenged me in so many ways! To start – I rarely paint abstracts even though I would like to have the skill. My dad was in palliative care and I wanted some bright colour. That’s what I started with. Then, I knew I had to dull it down but it just seemed like chaos (rather symbolic). I ended up liking the feel of it because it seems so representational during that ten-day period. I like parts of it. I’m not sure how I feel about it as a whole painting. It was an interesting therapeutic challenge. It definitely pushed me out of my usual watercolour and ink zone. Oh, and my dad ended up walking out of palliative care!




Tahirih Goffic, Danu

I finally got a good photo of this gal…I’m calling her “Danu”. In meditation, I asked who she was, and that is the name she gave. Interestingly enough, Danu, “in the Celtic religion, is the earth-mother goddess…who was honoured under various names from eastern Europe to Ireland “. “She is an ancient Irish triple goddess who is considered the “Great Mother” of Ireland. She is the Mother of the Irish gods and faery people, the Tuatha Dé Danann, which literally means the “People of the Goddess Danu”.. “. This image arrived in my mind fully formed…I’m not sure where she came from. She wasn’t an idea I had for a painting, she was just a painting I hadn’t painted yet. I haven’t worked in this way since I was a child, and it’s way out of my comfort zone! I usually work from a single photo, not from my imagination, so it’s very new to me. It’s exciting and scary at the same time, but now that I’ve allowed the door to open, it’s like a flood of images wanting to be painted!




Lorraine in Secret, watercolour artist

Initially, I was hoping to convey a quiet, timid and hesitant feel – I spent time building a colour palette that would exaggerate the contrast between its bold predatory cloak and a seemingly more vulnerable and soft white body. It’s almost a sign of our times – I wonder – we can put on these bold brazen predatory cloaks that hides our more demure fragility.

I had to be a lot more thoughtful in trying to keep the face soft. I spent time with preliminary thumbnails to decide on the composition, I wanted to position his head in a way that if he decided to look ahead, he would fill the frame, thus bringing attention to his turned head a non-confrontational stance.

There were initial errors in my preliminary drawing – the eyes were too small, of which I had to correct

later and I feel they lost their sparkle,

a couple of other minor errors in rendering but nothing I feel anyone would be overly critical. My rendering of the wings were completely experimental – and in my opinion – is overworked and muddied – the wings seem to lack a sense of form to me. I layered in washes and glazes and then lifted pigment off. I tried to work details into

the wash…. I think there’s some hits and some misses. No gouache – but when it comes I might touch up on details. The details of the feathers missed the angles so his “cloak” looks angular and harsh – I failed to observe – however, having said that – the harshness adds to the juxtaposition of the white body and I think it works. The piece is inspired by some of the online schooling of @jeanhaines



Shantael Sleight, contemporary Canadian painter based in Victoria, BC

Revisiting this painting today and reflecting on the challenge involved in pulling it together just under a year ago. And also, the great satisfaction.

While I have painted the figure in the past, and have felt the draw to come back to it many times, I don’t think I ever believed I did it well enough to express an idea, or feeling. I also felt hesitant in allowing myself the freedom to explore different styles of painting (abstraction and realism) at the same time. It seemed very unfocused – at least that’s what the little art school voice in my thoughts was saying.

This painting, ‘Grace’ provided the nudge to go ahead and play around in both realms, always with the aim of inching a little closer to the what and the why I head into the studio to do.




Heather Himmel, Watercolour artist

‘Merganser’ I usually paint in watercolour but my kids gave me a set of Cobra water mixable oils from Opus for Christmas. This is my first attempt at oil painting. I think I’m hooked!







Melanie Fenton, Self-taught landscape painter

I was not planning to share this painting right now because it doesn’t really fit in with what I’ve been working on. The last month has been a lot of stress and not a ton of time to paint so I’ve been squeezing it in where I can and I’ve found my mind and my hands keep wandering. I think part of it is the stress, maybe procrastination, and also it’s hard to make a chunk of time to work on a large painting when your kid isn’t in school for most of the month. Whatever the reason, I’ve been playing around with small, floral-inspired abstract studies. ⁣

This piece is what sparked that exploration. I had an extra 8×10 canvas stretched that I decided not to use for the Fluid Horizons Collection and it became an excuse for play. I had a colour palette in mind but didn’t have a real idea where this was headed when I started and I am just so happy with the outcome. The textures of the raw canvas, swipes of thick paint, and wax pastel scribbles are so satisfying.⁣

This piece was inspired by flowers, as they’ve been on my mind as we move into spring. I used to paint flowers a lot but mostly stopped a few years ago when a particular painting made me mad. I now know why I was frustrated with that work and I think a break was a good thing, but I think I’m starting to open up again to florals…this time with a new, more abstract interpretation. This painting helped me get past that creative block, which is why I just had to share it for this challenge.



No matter what your level of skill or artistic ambition, we hope our investigation into the creative cycle has been fruitful. We’ve focussed a lot on the commercial side recently, but it’s vital to remember that creating for your own pleasure is just as important – we don’t all need to strive to become professional artists! As Blythe Scott said in our visual podcast, ‘Living in a world where everyone was creatively fulfilled, would be a great thing’. So as a community, let’s continue to support and encourage each other in all our artistic endeavours, no matter how big or small, each step of the way. Keep making, stay inspired and keep sharing!


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