Artists unite in Victoria Sketch Club

Larry Gollner, Victoria Sketch Club

Larry Gollner displays some of his vivid paintings at his studio in Cobble Hill.

Seventy-four-year-old Brigadier General (Ret’d) Larry Gollner never imagined people would buy his art, even though he’s an honourary  member of the oldest fine arts club west of the Great Lakes – the Victoria Sketch Club founded in 1909.

Over the years more than 30 paintings have left his studio, tucked under the arm of a new owner, destined for display on a solitary wall.

“To be quite frank, it is satisfying and motivating when people actually buy your art,” he says. “It’s a compliment and recognition.”

The Sketch Club allows only about 40 artists at a time, with noteworthy artists Emily Carr, Samuel McClure and Max Maynard on the register at one time.

For the retired soldier, art didn’t become a passion until he borrowed some of his wife Christine’s supplies on a whim nearly 20 years ago. Christine attended the Emily Carr Art and Design Institute, and is a widely recognized artist. Canvas, brushes and paint were only a few strides away in their home. Gollner dabbled in the genre after hours; it was the military that had his full attention.  

Retirement and a nomination into the club propelled him to fully explore his talent.

“I moved into the true creative side – which to me is abstract painting,” he says.  “I got into abstract painting because I appreciated the amount of planning required. I figured early on I would never be good at painting apples. I don’t have the talent, or the patience to do that. Abstract just suits me better.”

He starts by cutting out strips of coloured paper. Next, he makes models followed by producing a small mock up on paper, then on board.

“When I am satisfied that I’ve got the proportions and the colours right,  I determine the size of the painting,” he says.  

His other medium is watercolour, which adds an extra element of skill as it is both spontaneous and unforgiving, he says. “There is no going back. Once it’s done, the chances of repairing a mistake are slim; whereas other types of paints you can paint over once they are dry.”

Over the years he has received pointers from some of the more renowned club members such as Ted Harrison and Victor Lotto. “When you have people like Ted and Victor sitting around, you learn a lot and you tend to pay attention,” says Gollner. “I enjoy the artists in the club; they are not only good artists, they are pleasant people and friends.”

Members range in age from 40 to 90 plus.

For more information on the Victoria Sketch Club and to see samples of Gollner’s work, go to www.victoriasketchclub. An account of the Club’s history can be found in John Lover’s book The Victoria Sketch Club; a Centennial Celebration.

Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer

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