Ann Holtby-Jones was the first artist Gary and I visited when we arrived on Vancouver Island. Ann lives just west of Parksville in a darling community watched over by a stand of proud evergreen trees. With a little help from our GPS we arrived at her home where we were greeted by Ann, Daisy, her adorable pooch, and the aroma of fresh baked cookies. I was secretly hoping, and I’m sure Gary was too, that Ann would find us pleasant enough to offer us a cookie. It turns out they tasted even better than they smelled and were so wonderful and healthy that I had to ask if she would share her recipe, and since then I have made two batches of my own.
Some artists we have met prefer not to be interviewed with video and this was the case with Ann. Instead we sat comfortably in her living room surrounded by 30 years of devotion hanging on the walls and talked about Ann’s insight into her own world of art.
Ann was first introduced to painting through the medium of oil and that was the match that ignited her creative fire. Later on, after moving to Vancouver Island, she went to purchase some oils and came home with a set of water colour paints instead. She was in love with painting but fell madly in love with water colour which sealed the life long commitment between her and her art. Her other enchantment belongs to the natural world. She finds it to be spiritual nourishment when she can combine her active hiking life with her painting. In her words, “I will not paint a place I have never visited. I have to feel my surroundings so that I can give honest meaning to my painting”.
For as long as the opposable thumb has been part of the homosapien hand, images have been transcribed throughout history to relay a message or tell a story to share with others and Ann’s paintings are a part of that history and culture. She once had the opportunity to stand on earth in a place that is one of the last remaining, pristine and untouched wild lands, the Muskwa-Kechika. Wayne Sawchuk is a steward of this part of Northern British Columbia and it is his personal mission to make sure it remains an untouched ecosystem. He feels people will protect what they are aware of, what they understand and what they love, and so he has been gathering artists of all mediums to come and visit this wild space and record it through their art. Ann was one of those artists. She finds fulfillment in using her ability to help others understand the vital importance of nature and this, she says, is part of her purpose.
Please visit Ann’s blog page to see more of her work.