Acclaimed Langley painters Brian Croft and Murray Phillips are like oil and acrylics. In fact, the contrasting duo joking ask: "Which of these artists is not like the other?"
One artist appears to be the oldest hippie on the planet; the other can't hide his military background as a former Canadian fighter pilot.
One artist wields a large expressive oil brush; the other manipulates a brush so tiny the hairs can scarcely be seen.
One artist explores and paints the great wilderness of B.C., while the other delves deeply into history for the inspiration to paint scenes from pioneering days.
Phillips and Croft are different in so many ways, yet these two artists have worked together as friends for many years.
Their opposing styles and subject matter have - instead of creating friction - provided grounds for some hilarious and good-natured jousting through the years.
For all their differences, Phillips and Croft have one thing in common; in a very real sense they are painting the same thing- the amazing province of British Columbia as it was in the past and as it is today.
And despite all their differences, these two men are joining forces this weekend to display some of those works at the Art In The City art show in Vancouver.
Phillips is a Murrayville resident who used to own Westwind Art Gallery in downtown Langley City before retiring a few years back to become a full-time artist.
He has a strong desire to express the spiritual in his paintings, Phillips said, the focus of this work is often nostalgic scenes of old houses or buildings.
"When people pass away, there is a loss in the universe - those memories and insights embodied in those people are gone forever.
I try to recapture in some small way those losses. Painting my dad's schoolhouse that he attended as a child was very satisfying work for me. It reminds me repeatedly of his perception of the world and how valuable and influential that was in my life," he said.
Phillips' paintings also reflect his love for nature: "I feel most at home in the wilderness. I have several studios, but my favorites are my sailboat or my VW van, which enable me to transport my studio to the painting site," he added.
In contrast, Croft's work emanates from the beautiful locales surrounding Vancouver. He has introduced a historical and heritage perspective into his work that has become the trademark of his collection that numbers in excess of 380 pieces.
While he's been painting the history of B.C. for more than 16 years now, in recent years this has meant quite a few paintings of Vancouver dating back as early as 1890 - when streetcars first began rolling through.
"Although I am represented by seven galleries, none of them are in the city of Vancouver, and so I am going to display my art for the second year in a row at Art in the City," Croft told the Langley Advance, excited to be sharing the spotlight with Phillips, whom he credits with mentoring him to keep painting during the early years.
"The significance of this particular show for us is that we seldom do shows in Vancouver and we have never done so there together," Croft said. The show runs May 11-13 at West End Community Centre, 870 Denman St., Vancouver.
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