Laura Harris channelling a charmed life with Cherished 

Who: Laura Harris

What: Cherished — Exhibit opening

Where: Adele Campbell Fine Art Gallery

When: Saturday, Feb. 14, 5-9 p.m.

Victoria-based painter Laura Harris is becoming to art what British "Domestic Goddess" Nigella Lawson is to food.

Both are vibrant women creating in the comfort of their homes. Energetic kids in their workspaces inspire rather than exhaust. Nigella’s luscious dishes are thrown together with finger-licking abandon and a lack of measuring precision, while Harris’ luscious canvases have been described as "beautifully imperfect."

Harris herself dissolves in laughter at the comparison, though she’s clearly thrilled to pieces.

"There’s a lot of sensuality, a lot of romance," she agrees. "About two years ago there was a darker period for me, but right now, I’m painting what I’m feeling."

If Harris’ bright, saturated works themselves aren’t enough of a window into her sunny state of mind and love of life and family, the title of the exhibit featuring a new collection of her work opening at the Adele Campbell this Saturday evening should make things crystal clear.

Cherished is Harris’ second exhibit at the gallery. The signature piece shows fruity orbs so lush the juice practically drips off the canvas. Standing in for leaves are the words just us and cherished . It’s a typical Harris-ian touch, betraying a graphic design background where text is art and vice versa, although the incorporation of text in her mostly acrylic paintings is a less deliberate process.

"It’s not really a conscious thing," says Harris of her quirky signatures, which pop up in the most curious of places. "It’s not like there’s a recipe that works every single time.

"It sort of happens when it happens," she continues. "Sometimes they’re written letters to my husband or my daughter that are in there that are barely legible, you can barely make out what they’re saying. But the other stuff is just what I’m feeling at the moment. Sometimes it makes sense and goes with the image, and sometimes it doesn’t, but I just sort of go with it."

"A lot of my stuff’s experimental. Just having fun with the paint. Really it just moves on its own."

Harris’ works almost do move on their own. She’s a star at the 10-year-old gallery and many of the new paintings will likely be displaying "sold" tags before the end of the exhibit reception tomorrow night.

There may even come a time when her art moves right onto toy room bookshelves. Harris confirms she has been conceptualizing children’s books that would feature illustrations in her trademark style.

"We’ll see," she says, "because that’s definitely how my mind is working right now, watching my little girl."

Harris will be in attendance at the Adele Campbell’s reception for Cherished , Saturday, Feb. 14 from 5 to 9 p.m. The exhibit continues through March 12. Call 604-938-0887 for information.

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