Painter William Matthews was thrilled last week when nine of the 12 paintings in his new exhibit at Fort Berens Estate Winery sold on opening night, July 5
“I’m humbled that people like my work and it sells,” Matthews told the News on July 4, before the “amazing” sale on July 5.
“My mandate is to paint the Lillooet and Bridge River areas so there are four paintings relating to the Bridge River area, including two of Carpenter Lake and one of the Shulaps from the flats at Gold Bridge,” said Matthews.
Using vibrant colours – blue skies, green hillsides – and vivid brushstrokes, Matthews captures the singular beauty and spirituality of this area.
He said the “lead painting” in the show is painted from the old, abandoned Rancherie at Xwisten on the West Pavilion Road.
“I got permission to sit there and do that painting in 2014,” explained Matthews. “I also got permission in 2005, but I never really explored the area too much until 2014. That’s when I discovered this enormous picket fence grave with an inspirational view beyond the grave.”
Another of the paintings in this year’s show is a familiar subject for Matthews – the old “blue” church at Leon Creek on the west side of the Fraser. “That’s one that hasn’t been seen before.”
Still another Lillooet-area scene is called Ska7um. It’s painted from a spot just beyond Fountain Flats on the way to Pavilion and depicts a triangular hill. In the St’at’imc version of the Grand Tetons, the name Ska7un was passed down from Chief Edwards at Pavilion through former Xwisten Chief and fellow artist Saul Terry to Matthews. Ska7um means “the tit.”
Fort Berens Estate Winery is the location for another painting that looks out over the winery’s vineyards.
“This is my last show for a couple of years,” says Matthews. “It gives me a chance to explore my art and expand my reservoir of paintings.”
He is still working on a “huge” commission of a 38-by-60-inch Bridge River Valley scene. “I’ve never done anything quite as large,” says the artist. “I have to say I’m learning from it; it’s dominating my life.”
Matthews has also started work on a painting of St. Andrew’s United and St. Mary’s Anglican Church in downtown Lillooet, with Mt. McLean behind it. He expects that will be finished later this fall or sometime in the winter.
Creating his unforgettable landscapes is not only creatively demanding but very time-consuming.
For example, the 12 paintings in last week’s exhibit represent “two years of solid work,” explains Matthews.