Lois Flach in her Chemainus home studio with trusty assistant Charlie. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Chemainus artist puts her creative touch to COVID Angel

Lois Flach’s painting of a front-line worker a powerful image

Lois Flach of Chemainus is like so many artists everywhere of every calibre who’ve been doing some amazing depictions of what the faces behind the COVID-19 health care crisis look like.

The Chemainus Art Group member calls her work COVID Angel, although she concedes the image of the battle-weary health care worker perhaps suggests another title might be more appropriate.

“I almost think it should be COVID Warrior,” Flach conceded. “They really are warriors on the front lines of this war.”

She based the acrylic work off the early Renaissance Madonnas.

“I wanted to make it a non-Caucasian,” she added. “We need to be more familiar with all of the nationalities we have.”

Flach’s painting with the distinct lines and marks on the workers’ face from wearing personal protective equipment captured the attention of Art Carlyle, a fellow art group member, during a recent Zoom meeting that has become the norm for people within various organizations to stay in touch during the pandemic.

“It is very powerful,” he praised.

The inspiration for the painting obviously came from the virus crisis that has unfolded daily before our eyes since mid-March in this region.

“I saw some of the images on television and I said, ‘that’s what I have to do,’” Flach indicated.

She got to work on the piece in her home studio.

“I thought about it for a couple of days and it took a couple of days to paint,” Flach said.

It was a bit of a departure back to the norm, with most of her time being spent recently in the garden like so many other people.

Flach has an extensive background in art. She obtained a degree in Art History from Guelph University in Ontario and taught art for a while in the classroom before opening the Fireweed Gallery in Edmonton with her mom.

“It was my mom’s retirement project,” noted Flach. “Fireweed grow in burnt-out areas. She wanted that name.”

They operated the gallery for 14 years before Flach came to Chemainus in 1992 as part of a family exodus to the west.

Flach had a store called Eden on Willow Street in Chemainus for five years that featured gifts, clothing, jewelry and other items. The store closed in 2000.

Art has always been a passion for Flach and she’s dabbled in all types of painting – acrylic, oils, water colour and pastels – with the Chemainus Art Group that was formerly based at Fuller Lake Arena for many years and now has a meeting place in the Saltair Community Centre – the former Mount Brenton Elementary School – that members hope they’ll return to soon following pandemic restrictions.

“The club has been really positive,” she said. “It’s so nice to have people to talk art with.”

Various talks and workshops help members to accentuate their skills. “The club is really doing well,” Flach added. “It has over 60 members.”

Artistic techniques for her require a certain know-how for the best results.

“The water colour, you work from light to dark,” Flach pointed out. “In acrylic and oils, you work from dark to light. It’s a different mindset entirely.”

She’s always done art for the pleasure of it and will continue to do so with pieces that reflect the times as well, like her amazing front-line workers creation.

“It’s not intended to sell, I don’t paint for that,” Flach conceded.

Once in a while, her paintings will get sent to relatives as a special surprise.

“I spent many years doing florals,” she added. “It’s the colour and the liveliness and the sense of joy.”

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Lois Flach’s powerful acrylic painting of a front-line health care worker. Flach, right, in her Chemainus home studio with trusty assistant Charlie. (Photos courtesy of Lois Flach, by Don Bodger)

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