PEI

P.E.I. artist sells 3 paintings to the National Gallery

An artist from Millvale, P.E.I. is excited about the sale of three of his watercolour paintings to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

'It's a wonderful validation of the painting that he's been doing'

This is one of Wendt's most recent paintings, from this past winter. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

An artist from Millvale, P.E.I. is excited about the sale of three of his watercolour paintings to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. 

"It's a big deal, it's hard to describe actually," said Hans Wendt.

"This year has been good with my new gallery in London and this has just been icing on the cake."

This is called Paper Strips #5, one of three paintings purchased by the National Gallery of Canada. (Submitted by Hans Wendt)

Wendt had been represented by a gallery in B.C., but when it closed he switched to the Gibson Gallery in London, Ontario. They were the ones who made the deal with the National Gallery. 

"They sell my work so that's just an extension of what they do," Wendt said.

The large scale watercolour paintings are part of a series Wendt has been working on featuring paint samples. 

This is one of three paintings purchased by the National Gallery of Canada. It's called Paper Strips #3. (Submitted by Hans Wendt)

"On one level they're abstract paintings, on another level they're realism but most simply put of all, they're beautiful," Wendt said.

"They're meant to catch the eye."

Art and agriculture

Wendt splits his time between painting and a large market garden. He and his wife are well-known at the Charlottetown Farmers Market where they sell fresh vegetables and bread. 

"I grow vegetables in the summer and then usually from November to March, I paint," Wendt said.

"Honestly, I only make one or two pieces in a given winter that I'm really happy with usually. If I have six that I'm really happy with, that's amazing."

Wendt checks out his crop of peas in his market garden in Millvale, P.E.I. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

To Wendt, making art in the winter makes sense. 

"It's a cerebral time right, I do ski but really everyone is locked up inside," Wendt said.

"I think that's why, on the East Coast, there's always been such a strong tradition of art making because we have a real winter."

'Wonderful validation'

The director at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery says the sale of the three paintings from P.E.I. is impressive. 

"I think for any artist to have that success is inspiring to other artists," said Kevin Rice. 

"For Hans personally, I'm sure it's a wonderful validation of the painting that he's been doing for almost a decade and a half."

Wendt is still working on this painting in his studio in Millvale, P.E.I. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Rice says only a few P.E.I. artists have been represented in the National Gallery's collection over the years.

"Not frequently enough I guess it's safe to say but this is a good model and hopefully it happens again sooner," Rice said.

The Confederation Centre has two of Wendt's paintings, including one that he donated.

Growing credibility

Wendt says he's hoping to expand the time he paints once the vegetable garden wraps up for the season. 

"Once you've got the bug to grow a market garden, it's difficult to move on from that, and I make a really nice salad mix," he said.

"I'm going to try to extend so it's not six months and six months but it's more like nine or 10 months that I'm painting. I'm going to try to do that."

Wendt says he earned more than $10,000 from the sale to the National Gallery. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

In the meantime, he's going to enjoy the buzz around the sale to the National Gallery.

"Things come and go, things change, but there's no doubt that you build your resumé," Wendt said.

"It will help a lot. I have some credibility now."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water or in the gym rowing, or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

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