Painter donates partial pet portrait proceeds to Langley animal shelter

It’s a first for Langley’s Verna Brown to participate in Arts Alive as an artist.

Verna Brown is setting up a tent and showing her artistic stuff – to strangers.

Arts Alive will be a new experience for her, although she has attended the arts festival for many years, first as a spectator, then helping someone else.

Last year, she helped Freda of Zealous Arts put on her display.

This year, Brown decided to set her own course. It will be the first time that people outside of her circle of family and friends will be invited to an open display of her paintings.

“I’m just excited to be showing my art in public,” Brown said, “and getting opinions about it from strangers.”

Completely self-taught as an artist, she is eager to hear what those strangers have to say, eager to learn more.

She has been trying out some watercolours, but her “go to” medium is acrylic on canvas.

She hasn’t taken any lessons – yet – just used a lot of Google to discover colours and styles.

There has been no conscious effort to emulate any artists or schools.

“I take a little from a lot of people.”

Brown started with charcoal, then tried colour pastels. Her current work in acrylics began as an add-on to her colour pastels, which didn’t give her the true, bright whites she wanted.

After a bit, she started creating entire works in acrylic.

Brown’s day job is in an administrative capacity. And she likes square dancing.

She also writes – occasionally. She wrote a mini-novel, Something Fishy Going On, that she sold on Amazon. “It was really fun,” she said, “but no success.”

It did underscore an important part of her personal philosophy: “Doing something you want to do is more important than making a million dollars.”

She came to Langley with her two daughters, Ashley and Aeran, in 1999, following “someone who had work” here.

“I didn’t pick it because it was the best place on earth,” she confided, adding, “I just discovered that after I got here.”

Her husband Gary, whom she met after her arrival in Langley, has been tremendously supportive of her artistic aspirations, although they have “completely opposite interests.”

“He doesn’t square dance,” Brown said, “and I don’t race motorcycles.”

“We promise each other that one day we’ll try each other’s activities,” Brown added, although she admitted that her reciprocation would probably be limited to taking on “waving a flag from a tower,” in reference to Gary’s current volunteer position as a starter at WMRA racing events at Mission Raceway.

Brown’s two daughters, Ashley and Aeran, have demonstrated artistic bents of their own.

Ashley has done some award-winning acting in theatre, though she now participates mostly back-stage.

Aeran is a beautician and nail technician who paints and draws on the side, and is “a great little artist” who, her mother proudly claims, “has more artistic talent in her little finger than I have in my whole body.”

While Brown will have works in acrylic and ink, as well as a variety of art cards, on display at Arts Alive!, she is currently promoting her pet portraits, from which she has been donating 10 per cent to Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS).

• Click here to see Verna Brown’s Facebook page

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