- BC Games
Connect with Us
Captivating the world from Tofino
Celebrated artist Mark Hobson has shared his knowledge on painting with artists in Croatia, the Galapagos Islands, Ireland and places around Canada, and he’ll be presenting in Qualicum Bay this weekend.
That’s when the fifth Island Arts Expo takes place, featuring Hobson’s paintings and the work of 24 other prominent artists, as well as entertainment, food and raffle prizes.
Hobson has been painting since he was three years old, and his mother still has a huge drawer of his paintings from over the years, he said.
Growing up, Hobson moved around frequently with his parents to places like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Portugal, as his father was an engineer who set up pulp and paper industries around the world. When he was 13 Hobson attended a boarding school in Northern Ireland for two years. He has wonderful memories of that old stone school building, which was founded in 1618 by King James the first. He took part in a number of sports and also found time to paint while attending the school.
“If ever there’s a period in someone’s life where you’re soaking up images and stuff [it is that age]. That’s a pretty rich time in anyone’s life, so I had a great time there,” he said.
When he was 13 he entered the British Isles annual school painting competition sponsored by Brooke Bond Tea—along with about one million other students—and snagged first place. That meant he got to go back and visit Sri Lanka, where he had lived when he was five and six, and visit some tea plantations with other students.
Despite a bunch of publicity surrounding his win, including television interviews, Hobson said he was still cautious for many years about giving his attention solely to art, and he was still very interested in pursuing a degree in biology.
After following that dream he became a high school science teacher for nine years, but when he turned 30 his passion for painting became too strong to ignore.
“After about 4 days of being an artist—I lived on Hornby Island that first winter—I thought, Oh my God, if you can make a living at this... it’s a much better way than all the other things I could think of.”
Hobson moved to Tofino in 1984 and transitioned to being a full-time artist by working the summer months for Parks Canada. By the end of the fifth winter he was asked to come on full time, but he was itching to paint, so decided instead to dive into his artwork full time.
Since then Hobson has won a number of awards and has been honoured for his work in many ways. In 2008 he designed a coin for the Royal Canadian Mint and in 2009 he placed third in International Artist Magazine’s competition, Seascapes, Rivers and Lakes. In 2010 he won the Salmon Conservation Stamp Competition, sponsored annually by the Pacific Salmon Foundation, and more than 20 of his images have been chosen by Ducks Unlimited Canada as fundraising limited edition prints. He has also been named the organization’s Artist of the Year in the past.
Hobson continues to teach a couple of workshops a year in Tofino, usually one in watercolour and one in acrylic, and they are usually sold out. He also enjoys traveling to instruct workshops, like a recent 10-day-stint in Croatia where he taught Canadians and Americans. And although he loves teaching, he has to limit those sessions, he said.
“I really do need time to paint and be excited about new work myself,” he said.
Hobson works in his floathouse studio, a nine km boat ride from Tofino.
The advice Hobson would give to aspiring artists trying to make a living with their artwork to keep in mind two parallel journeys. One is to continue raising skill level, constantly looking for inspiration and new material, and the other is to get work out there and connect with as many people as possible.
At the Island Art Expo, happening at the Lighthouse Community Centre, Hobson will give a presentation about his own painting journey and he will show a documentary about a group of painters he organized aimed at keeping the B.C. coast free from oil tankers. The project Art for an Oil Free Coast happened last year, with 50 prominent artists traveling up the B.C. coast.
There is now a coffee table book of artwork that was created on the journey and a film documenting the project.
For more on the Island Arts Expo, to view other presenters, workshops and artists, visit www.islandartsexpo.ca. For more on Mark Hobson visit www.markhobson.com.