May 2021
Where do you find inspiration?
The good news is that inspiration isn't something you need to look for. Inspiration is right in front of you. Stop what you are doing. What do you see? A wall? A bookcase? A window? A TV show? Your dog? This is the stuff of inspiration.

People either wait for inspiration to come to them, or else they look for it. Neither waiting or looking is necessary. What you need to inspire you is whatever is in front of you because that is your life. What you see is part of your lived experience.

In a documentary on Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Storr describes the artistic process as like a sourdough starter because there is always a thread that continues throughout one's work. New work almost always contains something (aka "a starter") from the past.

When students are stuck wondering what to do next, I always suggest going back to a work you already did and make it again. You will make it differently. Ellsworth Kelly talks about a work he did in 2010, only to discover later that he made a collage maquette for the same piece in 1958.

Kelly's abstractions were almost always based on parts of architecture: windows, walls; ordinary elements right in front of him. He also drew his houseplants all his life. Both subjects are an example of an artist using elements from their daily life as source material.

Ira Hoffecker is an artist who is actively engaged in the present and the past. Her lively and complex new works, on exhibition at the Fortune Gallery, reveal an imaginative interpretation of her life as it is now, overlaid with elements of her previous art practice.

During the forced lockdown of the pandemic, Ira spent a lot more time in her garden, often in place of travelling to New York or Berlin. Instead of painting these plants precisely as they are, Ira created complex compositions by combining plant forms with geometric structures reminiscent of her more abstract map-inspired works. The resulting paintings are a juxtaposition of the past with the present. The beauty of this process is that Ira did not have to spend days waiting for, or searching for inspiration. The source for the new work was at arm's length.

These dynamic surfaces combine botanical forms with architectural structures to create a composition that offers both the Greenbergian Modernist desire for a flat picture plane, and a reference to Renaissance perspective, as in Leonardo's Adoration of the Magi, one of the first drawings to reference one-point perspective as we understand it today.

Ira's contemporary colour palette reminds us of the flashing cacophony of Times Square in New York, intersecting with the foliage of the tropical rain forest. The unity of the design allows these two disparate realities to combine in a cohesive and multi-levelled way. I encourage you to check out this exhibition at the Fortune Gallery until May 28.

As an alumnus of VISA, Ira can testify to the motivation she received while taking courses at the school. I loved to see her work develop in my recent Flower as Art and Landscape Now classes. Each week Ira would tackle the project in a completely original way that maintained a direct connection to her own practice. This is something we encourage in all our classes: there is only one right way to do things, and that is the way that comes most naturally to you.

Since graduating from VISA with a Diploma of Fine Arts in 2013, Ira completed her BFA at the University of Gloucestershire and then an MFA at Plymouth University in England and Transart Institue, New York, N.Y. However, she continues to take courses at VISA, and she would definitely encourage you to do the same. No matter your level of experience, taking a class will open your eyes to seeing that inspiration is right in front of you. With a few helpful prompts and an introduction to contemporary artists working today, you too can make exciting creative work. 

Our Spring courses start next week, so please check them out today!

Wendy Welch
Executive Director
Leonardo Da Vinci, Adoration of the Magi
Moving Sale
Support VISA and find some practical items such as easels and drawing donkeys, as well as some unusual supplies and art-related items that could only be found in an art school!
Spring Courses
Don't miss our on our moving special of $145 for a six-week course (regularly $185)
Spring 2021 semester starts on Tuesday May 11
You will find some highlights of our course offerings below
You are in for an adventure with this new art history course by John Luna: you will learn about art, literature, fashion, philosophy, politics and more, all for the price of one course!
This selective survey course covers key examples of the interaction between visual art and clothing design, from the Art Nouveau milieu of painter Gustav Klimt and designer Emilie Louise Flöge, to Elsa Schiaparelli’s ‘surreal’ partnership with Salvador Dalí, and also surrealist Meret Oppenheim’s use of accessories to produce some of the first feminist sculpture. Lectures will consider both the trope of homage (as in Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic Mondrian dresses) and the role of artist-designer collaboration in contemporary fashion via artists like Takashi Murakami and Sterling Ruby as well as designers like Raf Simmons and Hedi Slimane. Finally, some thought will be given to the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on merging worlds of art and fashion. Suitable for beginners. 

Tuesdays 7pm - 9pm, May 11 - Jun 15 (Online Delivery) 

Do you want to make art but you don't know where to start? This is the course for you. In this course you will learn how to blast through artistic blocks and nurture your innate creativity through the development of a daily writing practice and five projects to activate and mine your subconscious. A useful course for beginners as well as mature artists in any medium. Course delivered through slide lectures, curated readings, seminar discussions, and drawing projects. Suitable for beginners.

Wednesdays 10am - 12pm, May 12 - Jun 16 (Online Delivery)

‘Mapping’ in contemporary art refers to geography and might incorporate the use of actual maps, but mapping has also taken on more nuanced images and forms as artists map physical and digital environments, the movements of the body or art objects in space, and broader ideas such as psychogeographies and histories. You will discover a range of contemporary artistic practices engaging with notions of mapping and explore through hands-on drawing exercises mapping as a concept and visual structure. The course will emphasize a mixed material approach allowing you to experiment with collage and a range of materials such as charcoal, graphite, thread, watercolors and oil pastels. Suitable for beginners.

Wednesdays 7pm - 9pm, May 12 - Jun 16 (Online Delivery)

For more info or to register: Map as Art
Draw by Drawing Summer Pop-Ups
We are pleased to announce the first
Draw by Drawing Summer Pop Up Session

Sunday May 23, 1pm-2:30pm

The focus on this session is drawing rocks with graphite pencils. Enrol today and surprise yourself -this is something ANYBODY can do!

To find out more information or to register please go to the website: Draw by Drawing

Draw by Drawing supply kits are available at the office for $149. These kits contain all the materials you will need for more than 25 Draw by Drawing sessions.

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Vancouver Island School of Art is moving DOWNTOWN and we need your support!

Please check out our Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign and see the great perks we are offering in exchange for your donation

Moving is expensive! Between deposit for lease, cost for movers, city parking spots, leasehold improvements, etc. Any amount would be appreciated. You can choose to receive a perk or a tax donation or both if the amount you donate is higher in value than the perk.

We will be in the new space as of June 1
302-733 Johnson St -please drop by and check out the all new "downtown VISA"
Slide Room Gallery
Jessica Ziakin Cook
May 1-30

For more information:
Ira Hoffecker: Transitions
Continues to May 23
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5pm
Consider giving a donation to your art school
The Vancouver Island School of Art relies entirely on tuition, studio rent and donations from our generous supporters to keep our organization running. We appreciate all donations no matter how small. To donate online click button below: 
All donations are tax deductible. Donors will receive a tax receipt as soon as donation is processed.We are extremely grateful to all who support us in bringing dynamic art courses and workshops to Victoria and surrounding area.
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