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“It’s more than a hobby, it’s a huge part of who I am,” painter Jack Turpin said of his art. But the retired Brookswood teacher admitted, however, it’s not a job for him, claiming he doesn’t have enough discipline to make it a full-time gig.
A utilitarian wall clock hanging arms length from Jack Turpin's easel always reads 9: 37.
For all the decades that his Brookswood basement has served as his studio, that clock has been broken, and the retired art teacher turned part-time painter likes it that way.
"That way, I'm always just starting," said Turpin, who is opening a show at the Birthplace of B.C.
Gallery in Fort Langley this weekend.
Typically, he spends between two and four hours a day in his studio or at a remote outdoor location, painting whatever inspires him - be it landscapes he loves or whimsical art that sometimes comes to life on an unsuspecting canvas.
Just days before the opening, however, Turpin admits he's literally had to lock himself in that studio in a frantic effort to finish all the pieces he wants considered for the upcoming show called Capturing the Moment, running until the end of May.
"I'm in panic mode," he said, breaking from painting long enough to sit down with this Langley Advance reporter.
He's expecting to have 15 painting in the show, but he's not yet sure which ones.
"For me, Capturing the Moment is what painting is all about. I'd like the viewer. to stop and look. if I can get them to stop for a minute and wonder what is in there - to see what I saw, that little bit of magic - and make them hold their breath for a moment as they spot a light bouncing off a rock or see some details hidden in the shadows - then I've done what I set out to do by capturing that moment in time."
An aspiring artist since child-hood, Turpin said his parents were not artistically inclined but his older brothers doodled and other relatives shared his creative passion.
"I can remember always being interested in art," he said, recalling - for instance - his early fascination with the pen and ink art found in his childhood story books.
But while he, too, has always doodled and occasionally painted, he didn't pursue his art seriously until much later in life. Instead, he followed his older brothers into teaching English and at six-foot-six-inch tall made quite the jock.
It wasn't until 40 years ago, when the principal at H.D. Stafford was looking for a teacher to take over one block of art, that Turpin volunteered. In short order, he discovered his true calling, took over teaching high school art full-time, and began - on the side - pursuing his own painting with vigour.
"I think the whole time, that little artist inside was screaming to get out," said Turpin, a known jokester describing that transition as a coming out or rebirth for him. Now, his creative inclinations come out in almost everything he does, whether he's out working and redesigning his garden or taking the dogs for a walk and absorbing his surrounds with the thoughts of a potential painting - he lives and breathes his art. He rarely leaves home without a travel pack. It's stocked with sketch books, a box full of watercolours and pens, and frequently augmented with a camera.
"I'm going to be an anal realist when I grow up" chuckled the 66-year-old, noting he started that way and then as a young artist went through a rebel stage pursuing more impressionistic works, before coming full circle back to the realism (often landscapes) that he admits comes more natural.
Looking at a painting he's crafting from a visit to the Tofino outlet during the early morning hours on a crisp winter New Year's Day, he said: "For instance, on this one I'm not going to paint every rock on the beach. but just about."
It's his perfectionist tendencies, Turpin said, that explain the swath of unfinished pieces stacked in piles around his studio.
Some of them, in fact, hold little more than the peachy background that he always starts with to enrich his art, then a few brush strokes he's added as an outline for the intended image he'll eventually bring to life. But for now, they're discarded in the pile, indefinitely, longing to one day be revisited.
"Obviously, at this rate, I don't sell a lot of paintings," Turpin said. "I'm not going to make millions, but as my wife [Diane] says, at least if you can pay for your habit."
Turpin and his long-time friend and fellow artist Perry Haddock - also a retired teacher - have done a show at Birthplace every year for the past five years, and this spring they're returning with fellow painter Amanda Jones. They're also being joined by jewelry artist Susan Rind.
Birthplace is located 9054 Glover Rd. in Fort Langley, and the artists will be on hand during the opening on Saturday and Sunday, April 27 and 28, from noon to 4 p.m.