Finding the courage to live life on your own terms is never easy. Even harder is teaching others. Monet’s Art Supplies customer, Sheila Thomas has managed to do both and lives an art driven life that enriches those around her. Inspired by the life and work of Emily Carr, Sheila has created spectacular pieces, like the art shown above, that evoke the wild beauty of the west coast of British Columbia.
Sheila Thomas is a Vancouver Island artist who lives and works in a mobile art studio. Her professional and educational life started in the theatre but moved in a new direction when, as a student at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec, she was exposed to the work of Emily Carr while filing slides in the fine arts lab where she worked.
‘I DISCOVERED EMILY CARR AND HER MAJESTIC WIND-BLOWN TREES. EVEN SQUINTING TO SEE ‘SOMBRENESS SUNLIT’ ON A 2 X 2 INCH SLIDE, I WAS ENTHRALLED. AFTER GRADUATION, I GOT ON A GREYHOUND AND HEADED WEST TO VICTORIA.”
Sheila worked multiple jobs in Victoria and at 50 reconnected with Emily Carr at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. She read the Governor General’s Award winning book “Klee Wyck” and through painting herself as Carr (see below) was inspired to model her own life on Carr’s, eliminating “stuff” from her life and setting up her home and studio in a 1960’s Mercury School bus. Since then, Sheila has been travelling, painting and teaching on Vancouver Island. When Covid hit, she hit the brakes, settling on Malahat Farm in Shirley, BC, teaching “Art Hootenannies and He’Art classes for essential service workers.
“EMILY CARR PAINTED AT MALAHAT FARM AND SHE SIGNED THE GUEST BOOK ON JULY 5, 1920. I’D LIKE TO THINK THAT SHE STANDS BESIDE MY STUDENTS AS THEY CREATE.”
Sheila and her students use acrylics and materials found through scavenger hunts; pine cones for scraping, ferns, wild flowers, and even Trump’s hair and Van Gogh’s ear. “It’s all about using your imagination” says Sheila.
In her own art Sheila focuses on portrait painting, landscapes, jelly fish, and of course trees! She aspires to learn more, grow more and meet artists.
In painting, Sheila has found her space, her quiet and her peace.
“SO STILL WERE THE BIG WOODS WHERE I SAT, SOUND MIGHT NOT YET HAVE BEEN BORN.”