In today’s world it is a known fact that one needs to expect more than one career in their lifetime. For Oak Bay artist Bruce Vallance, his newest career began seven years ago, although the inklings of it were evident more than 15 years ago. Vallance turned his hand from being a production potter to becoming a painter.
His studio on St. Patrick Street is hidden in the back, reached by passing through his food gardens, artistic garden works and his chicken coop. It’s as though his previous life as a potter in small town Clinton has followed him, at least in the importance of space and its uses.
The 1980s and ‘90s were his intensely productive years. His pottery was seen in all of the small shops and gift stores across British Columbia and beyond and he worked hard.
“The timing was perfect for me, handcrafted items were becoming popular, they were reasonably prices and it went nuts,” said Vallance. “Production potters are a rarity these days.”
Fast forward to 2010.
Vallance’s studio is filled with bright paintings of boats, figures and everything else. His nudes and female figures are powerful and gripping. There are stories in the paintings, some of which are disturbing and are Vallance’s personal visuals of what some women have to go through.
“I really understand it is not an even playing field for women, they have it tougher than men,” he said in reference to a couple of painting of women in distressing situations. The images are meant to draw attention to the harshness of some women’s lives and the unfairness of it all.
Those are just a couple of paintings, others show the beauty of women and the light which emanates from them, at once joyful and beautifully composed.
“Women by nature are super beautiful,” he said.
His paintings of boats are extremely popular. Their reflections in the water are what the eye sees briefly as the water distorts the image. He has captured those movements and holds them locked in paint. HIs paintings of boats adorn the walls of the Oak Bay Marina restaurant in the summer months, appropriate since most of them are boats from the marina.
On one of the studio walls are three portraits of Leonard Cohen. It’s his tribute to the man who helped ease his way through difficult high school years.
Visit vallancepottery.ca to learn more about the artist.