Dabbling around at the canvas 

Cary Campbell Lopes takes adults on artistic exploration during evening classes

click to enlarge Poppies in Progress A participant of Cary Campbell Lopes' adult art classes works on her canvas
  • Poppies in Progress A participant of Cary Campbell Lopes' adult art classes works on her canvas

If you’re not completely new in town, chances are you’ve seen the roving handiwork of Cary Campbell Lopes and her husband, Paolo Lopes, wandering around town or circulating at a swanky event, or maybe some of their more static pieces hanging on the wall.

They truly are our local artistic dream team – with a background in graphic design, illustration, airbrushing, acrylic and 3D work, they wield airbrushes, sparkles, fabric and much more to create everything from beautifully painted nude models to elaborate costumes that leave people elbowing one another in the ribs and pointing in disbelief. Cary is also well known for her signature, stunning oversized pet portraits, and her kid-friendly art lessons.

And now, as if they didn’t have enough on their collective plates, Cary is offering adults a chance to get back to their artistic roots and pick up a paintbrush again. She’s started hosting Dabble Art classes, which take place every Thursday evening from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Expressions Art Studio in Whistler, just after she wraps up her kid’s lessons at 5 p.m.

“A lot of them haven’t painted since they were in grade 10, but they’re amazing!”

Lopes is used to instructing a much younger crowd, but after hearing a resounding cry from some of the parents she decided there was enough demand to offer adult classes as well.

So far, she’s found that adults take direction surprisingly well, and is very pleased with the turnout.

“It’s such a gratifying feeling, and they’re so pleased with themselves after,” she said, adding that some of the students will come back to their pieces the following week, and ask if Lopes has touched them up.

So many adults automatically dismiss their creative abilities, but Lopes is finding the groups to be far more talented than even she expected.

“I’ve got one lady there, she’s a teacher… and she came in and she was totally nervous, totally doesn’t want to touch the canvas,” she said. But her work in progress, a painting of three poppies, is coming along brilliantly.

Students must sign up for a group of four classes, and afterwards, they can continue to participate on a drop-in basis at a cost of $50 per evening.

“We try and get people to commit to doing four because that covers the costs of us buying the paints, buying the canvas, all the brushes, and everything they use, so they don’t need to turn up with anything,” she said, then quickly added that they do, in fact, need to bring ideas and an open mind to the table.

Using acrylic paints and Lopes’ signature big canvases, participants are encouraged to find a texture or design they would like to attempt.

Hilary Cousar is just one of the people participating in this round of the new adult art classes.

Cousar owns and operates Whistler Cooks with her husband, Grant, and their 10-year-old daughter is a frequent participant in Cary’s kids’ classes.

“She’s had an excellent, excellent rapport with the kids in our class, and the kids produce awesome work – it’s really great, so when Cary came up with this program, I just thought it would be a really nice change and something that’s a bit different from my day to day schedule,” Cousar explained.

Cousar has a bit of artistic background, as well – she studied art in college, and used to be a silversmith – so once she started attending the classes, the creative juices started to flow.

Anyone interested in learning more about the classes is welcome to come out to the next Thursday evening session to observe.

“If they see us painting there, they can always come in the door and ask questions, see what people are doing,” Lopes said, “It might make them more comfortable.”


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