For Saturday’s Art Gallery Paint-In, this artist is going in a different direction

What: TD Art Gallery Paint-In
When: Saturday, July 21, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Moss Street, from Fort Street to Dallas Road

For Andrea Soos, the TD Art Gallery Paint-In this Saturday is a first step in her new role as an artist.

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After studying art education and art history, teaching art for about 20 years and founding the art website Poppet Creative, the Fernwood woman hopes to create and sell her own art.

It begins at this year’s Paint-In, her seventh overall, but her first as a full-time artist.

“The teaching has been great and brought me lots of joy and amazing friends, and great personal growth,” Soos said.

“But now it’s time to focus and do it for myself.”

Saturday’s TD Art Gallery Paint-In will be the 31st time that organizers from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria transform three kilometres of Moss Street, from Fort Street to Dallas Road, into a giant exhibition of art.

More than 190 artists from Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, the most ever, will set up their studios along the sidewalk, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., to paint, create art and answer questions from all who pass by and stop to talk.

Event co-ordinator Julia Pauselius said it’s a chance to introduce Victoria to its own artists, the people who live by their own creativity.

They often work in solitude and, in many cases, have yet to reach a professional stage where galleries are showing and selling their works.

“The visitors can experience the artists and share their studio space with them and see their work practices on the street,” Pauselius said.

“With Victoria artists, and the ones on different islands and in the isolated communities, you don’t necessarily see much of their work.”

The quality of the work is assured, Pauselius said.

Some artists have been returning for decades, but each year every featured artist is selected by a jury. This year, more than 200 applied.

This reliable quality has meant the Paint-In has formed its own community of returning visitors, people interested in the visual arts and the Victoria art scene.

They follow the changing of techniques, trends and the evolving careers of the artists, as well as watching out for new talent.

“For them, it’s really great to get that one-day, intense and fun experience, where you can just come together and see what’s happening,” Pauselius said.

For Soos, the Paint-In has already helped to provide years of personal growth, starting with stage fright during her first public exposures.

Like all those who have yet to have galleries showing and marketing their work, it was an early chance to make some money, directly selling her work.

“You feel very vulnerable when you first put yourself out there,” Soos said. “But it’s also great and, when you don’t have a gallery, how can you sell your stuff?”

Soos said her work, painting in acrylics, has changed in recent years. People who know her have noticed. She has developed a confidence that is taking her to large canvases.

She said her approach to painting has always been “process driven,” as opposed to an ambition to complete finished works, so the selection and juxtaposition of colours can depend on just how they make her feel.

For Soos, the processing is an almost necessary, daily therapy. She joked that just 10 minutes in the studio makes her a better wife, a better mother to her two sons — aged nine and 13 — and altogether a better person.

“I’ve been doing that for years but I didn’t always show my stuff,” she said.

“I kind of hid behind the teaching and encouraging other people to get up and do.

“Now it’s my time to show up and do what I’ve been teaching others to do.”

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