Dianne Bersea has lived what she refers to as a “quirky” life.
“I often say that I lived my life backwards. I became a professional artist for a long time then I decided to go to art school,” she said while taking a break from her latest painting sitting on the beach in Okanagan Falls. “I usually go and do something and then I figure out how. It’s worked for me.”
Bersea’s creativity began in the wild places of Canada’s western province among the dry plateau lands of the Cariboo, a lighthouse station on the west coast of Vancouver Island, a log cabin on the banks of the Thompson River and outside of Manning Park. After spending many years on Cortes Island, she now lives on a ranch property near Okanagan Falls.
An honours graduate of the Alberta College of Art (now ACAD), she is also a signature member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and an elected member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour. She is now part of Tumbleweed Gallery’s collective of artists; Margo Cooper, Kate Kimberley, Jill Leir Salter, Liz Marshall, Susan McCarrell, Jan Little and Bill Hibberd.
“I really love what all those artists are doing. They are distinct and committed to what they are doing,” said Bersea. “I have admired the artists in there since I came to Penticton.”
Bersea has a background in graphic design, fine art, natural history illustration and exhibit design. She is especially known for her bold landscape images in watercolour and acrylic. Her family weren’t creative types; her mom figured Bersea should be a doctor, which she pursued in medical school at one point until she got to the physics and math side of things.
“My dad, I thought, was always really creative though. He was a radio technician and could build his own radios and he was like an engineer solving things and putting things together, which is what I think creativity is all about,” said Bersea. “My mom though, if I gave her a painting that didn’t go with the couch, I got it back. My mom never understood it. She didn’t want anyone to starve, but I haven’t starved yet. Maybe a little thin at times.”
Living in isolated places like Dog Creek and getting home schooled she showed a talent for art early on. She worked as an illustrator, graphic designer and came across commission jobs and work by being in the right place at the right time.
“I was in the provincial museum and asked to go into the private collections to sketch and I wanted to see things not on display. One of the staff members picked them up and the exhibit designer saw them. I didn’t have a phone and I remember him coming to my home knocking on my door and saying, ‘it’s not every day I come offering a job at someone’s door,’” she said.
While she admits there are artists who are more focused in what they do, Kindrie Grove she gave as an example, her life continues to have that “quirky” way of working out.
“I think it is because I didn’t have a family that said go to art school. I tried pre-med and I didn’t last long. I always thought I was supposed to do something substantial that the world would appreciate,” she said.
Bersea has worked at the planetarium in Calgary, for National Parks creating exhibits and had many other life experiences to help her find a place in the art world.
“I enjoy the process of being challenged. The creativity comes from that I believe,” she said.
Bersea said one of her most recent accomplishment is being invited to participate for the Fabriano in Watercolour International Exhibition in Italy June 12 to July 6. Not much of a world traveler, Bersea said she decided not to attend.
“I might go there one day. It might have been kind of fun, but I’m not a really good traveler. It’s funny because here I like adventure in my life but it’s getting from A to B that I don’t like,” she said.
It could be a sign of that living life in reverse mode she has.
“Maybe one of these days I will go, but I guess the show will be gone by then.”
Tumbleweed Gallery is hosting an opening reception for Bersea on June 19 from 5 to 9 p.m. which will include fresh art from all of the collective. Bersea, who said she likes to live and breath inspiration, will be showing landscapes and animal watercolours. Her landscape paintings have been described as a “magic window”to the mysteries of nature.
Tumbleweed Gallery’s regular hours are Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday and Monday by appointment. An artist is in attendance on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The gallery also is part of the Penticton Downtown Summer Art Walk. In a five-block area, seven galleries are open for people to stroll around to including Caroline’s Boutique, Kindrie Grove Studios, YGO, Front Street Gallery, The Lloyd Gallery and Picture This Custom Framing and Gallery. The next art walks take place on July 3 and Aug. 7 from 5 to 7 p.m.