Spring Awakening is this year’s meadowlark painting, by the festival’s feature artist, Dorothy Tinning. The original is acrylic on canvas, 22x28 inches, and is on display at the Penticton Art Gallery until May 20, after which it will be auctioned off at the Meadowlark Festival Gala. -Image courtesy Dorothy Tinning

Meadowlark artist draws insight from nature

A chance encounter with a meadowlark inspired Spring Awakening

Dorothy Tinning said she was painting outdoors when she was distracted by the call of a meadowlark.

Looking around, she spotted it nearby, singing its song and posing for her. That image became the inspiration for Spring Awakening, the work she created as the featured artist for this year’s Meadowlark Nature Festival.

“It’s a very large bird. It’s got that beautiful yellow gold chest and throat and the wings are multicoloured and they’ve got those black dots,” said Tinning. “It’s an artist’s dream to be able to paint it.”

Art and nature have both been life-long passions for Tinning, though it wasn’t until 2006 that she was able to devote herself full-time, working out of her studio in Penticton.

Related: Dorothy Tinning

In her artist statement, Tinning says the underlying theme in her paintings tends to be a celebration of the uniqueness of our beautiful land forms that reflect the beauty and master of the Okanagan area.

She says the day the meadowlark called to her was a beautiful warm day in the South Okanagan, surrounded by a landscape of antelope brush, bunch grass and sage.

“It’s just kind of a beautiful habitat. And when you’re out there you know you really get that scent, it’s just so earthy,” said Tinning, describing how she loves to watch the light play on the landscape and, in their case, the meadowlark.

“It’s the interaction, that’s where it’s really exciting, with the play of light.”

Each year, the Meadowlark Festival features a different artist. This year marks its 20th anniversary, and Tinning said they had all the artists represented at the museum.

“Which included the likes of Robert Bateman and Alan Brook, Julia Hargreaves,” said Tinning. “People that have painted for years and years, so I really felt very honoured.”

An exhibition of Tinning’s work, Creative Exploration Through Landscape Art, including Spring Awakening, will be on display at the Penticton Art Gallery, 199 Marina Way until June 19, with the opening reception at the gallery on May 19 at 7 p.m.

“I’ll be giving an artist talk about the show (on May 20 from 2 to 4 p.m.),” said Tinning, adding that she plans to share the inspirations and stories behind the individual works.

After the artist talk, Spring Awakening will be taken over to the Meadowlark gala event.

“I have donated it for their big auction that they’re going to have that night at the golf course,” said Tinning.

The Meadowlark Nature Festival is on until May 22, with 81 different events from Princeton to Penticton. Find out more at meadowlarkfestival.ca.

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