Jillian Mayne is just one of many Vancouver Island artists adjusting to an arts community changed by COVID-19.
Mayne was set to host a show at Port Alberni’s Rollin Art Centre in June, along with fellow artists Sue Thomas, Ann McIvor and Colleen Clancy. But this show has now been postponed to 2021 in order to promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 is “a stressful time” said Mayne, but she has been connecting with her friends via Zoom and using the self-isolation time to work on her painting.
“The community’s been great,” she said. “It’s a good place to be in this situation. Initially, I found it hard to paint because I was quite anxious. You kind of have to force yourself to go into the studio and paint. Now there is a routine forming.”
Mayne grew up in rural Ontario, where she picked up a love of art at an early age.
“My grandmother had been an artist,” Mayne said. “We used to draw together.”
Life drawing has been a particular love of hers since her first exposure in a high school arts program, and again at the Ontario College of Art and Sheridan School of Design.
She fell into the world of art commissions mostly by accident, she explained.
“I was fooling around with a piece of copper at a friend’s house,” she said. “I ended up getting commissioned to do pieces for a construction company. It was just my luck. This was a world I knew nothing about.”
As technology changed over the years, Mayne went back to school and took a graphic design program. She worked as a production designer with CBC, then later worked in production with the now-closed Alberni Valley Times after moving to Port Alberni in 2006.
Now retired, Mayne spends her additional free time in front of a canvas.
“With computer work, everything is so precise,” she said. “I wanted to do some messy stuff.”
Mayne mostly works with acrylics and watercolours.
“I have a thing about faces,” she said. “I also really like nature and gardening. I started out being very realistic with my paintings, but now I’m becoming more and more abstract. I’m trying new things all the time.”
Shortly after moving to Port Alberni, she got involved in Alberni Art Rave and got to know some local artists. DRAW Gallery also became “a nice little hub” for her.
“Port Alberni has quite a thriving arts community that seems to be growing,” she said. “There are some internationally-renowned artists here. I’m not sure people are aware.”
Although DRAW Gallery’s on-location gallery is closed to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spring into ART! exhibit is available to view online, including some of Mayne’s work. You can find it at www.drawgallery.com.