Dave Stevens


(posted on 14 May 2023)

The Pink Ladies refers to the show, Grease, where the lady gang members wore pink jackets. They remind me of the pink salmon who migrate, yearly, past the shores of Campbell River to reach their spawning grounds in the rivers along the coast of Vancouver Island.
Once the salmon were abundant, but in recent years they have decreased in number due to overfishing, climate change, and other factors. While still a food source both commercially and recreationally, the salmon are a shadow of what they used to be.
I was born in Campbell River, and I grew up with stories of fishing with the likes of Roderick Haig Brown, a fisherman, a judge, a writer, and an environmentalist. I own books he wrote about life and fishing in the area. Haig Brown’s place by the Campbell River allowed him to be near one of the most productive salmon rivers in the province. From childhood I dreamed of fly-fishing the Campbell river-a dream I fulfilled one summer. Using a googly-eyed fly, I caught and released a beautiful salmon in the Campbell River.

Like Haig Brown, Emily Carr loved the environment around British Columbia. Much of her art was influenced by the old villages with their long houses and totem poles on Haida Gwaii. She travelled by boat and canoe to the southern islands of the Queen Charlotte Islands, as they were known back then, where she created drawings and paintings to record the village life and history of the Haida people. She was an artist, a writer, and a historian. She studied art with Lawren Harris of the Group of Seven. The Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver commemorates her. The Vancouver Art Gallery has many of her works in their collection.
Emily Carr has become a voice for this province.

Emily Carr

(posted on 23 Apr 2023)

In reviewing my last Blog I realized that I neglected to inform people of my own displays, so I am rectifying that oversight.


Nanaimo Arts Council

Take It To The Bank                                Millstone Rapids 1                             Oil on canvas
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
Reception on Tues., 25th  April
Show on until May 30th, 2023            
205 Commercial St, corner of Bastion and Commercial

Port Theatre in Nanaimo                          Red Hawk                                         Acrylic on paper                            125 Front Street                              
Show set up April 26th, 2023                                                                            Art Around Town

Ladysmith Arts Council

On Now:

Contrast Show                                        China: Old and New                          Woodblock print                          144 Parkhill Terrace, Ladysmith                       
Until May 7, 2023

Coming Up:    

Whimsy Show                                          Arbutus Islands I + II                      Oil on canvas
144 Parkhill Terrace, Ladysmith    
May 9th - 28th, 2023                

Art on the Avenue Festival                    Paintings, relief prints, books and cards
Sunday, August 27th,2023

(posted on 15 Apr 2023)

Someone was able to record an octopus being pulled out of the sea. The octopus was gripping a crab trap and wouldn’t let go. The prawns or crabs inside the trap were too tempting to the octopus, so it refused to release its tentacles even though it was brought up to the surface.
It reminded me of monkeys who would reach through openings and grab things inside a trap. They would have been able to get their paws out if they let go of the prized item, but they refused to let go, which led to their capture.

A former student from South Delta Secondary, Stephen Bau, created some unforgettable images. He continued his studies at Kwantlen College and Trinity Western University and has pursued a career in Graphic Arts creating various companies relating to design.
One of his images that has stuck with me is a sailing ship heading into a whirlpool. He not only created this image but he tied it together with a grid pattern that he spiralled into the whirlpool vortex with the ship heading down.
Stephen Bau

(posted on 14 Mar 2023)

Night smelt, also called eulachon or candle fish, is native to the west coast. At spawning they are so oily that they can be dried and burned as candles. The illustration shows a night smelt ready for bed carrying a candle, a sneaky way to connect the night smelt to the idea of a candle.

My exposure to them came from two Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka’wakw) artists, Beau Dick and Russell Smith, with whom I developed friendships while at university. I lived on the main floor of a house while they were in the basement with their families. One evening they invited me to join them in a feast that coincided with the spawning of eulachons, or night smelts. They had acquired eulachon oil up the coast and brought it down with them. Roasted potato quarters were combined with salmon and held together by hand as they were dipped in fish oil and salt. This combination was eaten and the procedure was repeated until you were full or the eulachon oil ran out.

Beau Dick, who was a chief with the Kwakwaka’wakw nation, died in 2017. His work can be found at various galleries, such as the Fazakas Gallery
Russell Smith, also descended from chiefs, died in 2011. His work can be found in various galleries, such as the Spirit Gallery

Look under Artists to read about Beau and Russell.

Here are a couple of designs by Beau Dick from our collection. We also have a silver bracelet by Russell Smith but it is in a box somewhere.


(posted on 11 Feb 2023)

“Business in the front. Partying in the back.” Is an anonymous quote that describes a famous hairstyle. Some English words have more than one meaning. A hairstyle that popped up in history from the French aristocracy to modern days shares its meaning with the name of a type of fish. Combining the fish with the hairstyle of a 1980s drummer was a natural fit.

Jose Urbay, a Spanish-speaking friend from Cuba, has had to learn the

idiosyncrasies of English.

Recently, he and his family moved to  Kentville, Nova Scotia, where

 he works as a graphic designer to support his work as a visual artist.

A surreal painting by Jose of mysterious figures and a narwhal hangs

in our living room where it elicits a number of comments.

Gracie, his wife, designs and creates jewelry.

Current News:
I am exhibiting nine of my paintings at the White Rabbit Coffee Co, 321 Selby St., just off Fitzwilliam Street in the Old City of Nanaimo. It is on from Feb 7th until March 7th.

I will be at the White Rabbit on Sat., Feb 25th from 1-4 p.m. to answer questions and to meet visitors.
I would love to see you there!

                     White Rabbit Coffee Co. Art Display                      Front and back covers for new book


(posted on 14 Jan 2023)


An unattractive name for an unattractive fish, especially as portrayed in this illustration. Rocks don’t move but if they do, they are probably lumpfish waiting for their food to swim by. It is like waiting for inspiration to strike before you create, whereas experience tells us that creativity follows sweat. There is no denying that there are moments of inspiration, some of which come unheralded and out of the blue, but usually artists have to put the work in.
An artist who put the work in was Frida Kahlo from Mexico. She was a woman who wrestled with infertility, depression and physical limitations. She was bedridden with an upper body cast, but she took her experiences in life and applied it to her art. A number of artists have been able to take the pain of their lives and translate it into motivation or directly into their artwork.

Like Frida, I was influenced in my own art when my younger brother, Robert, died of cancer in 2001. Using erosion of wood and sandstone as a theme, I produced the following painting in colours that were a departure for me but which reflected my pain of grief and loss.


One of the things I hoped for from these books was new information. I always wanted to add to my knowledge and the “King of the Salmon” did this. I did not know that the Makah tribe on the West Coast honoured the ribbon fish as a precursor of salmon to the extent that they forbade catching and killing them as it would negatively affect the run of the salmon and their harvests for food.
Indigenous people saw cycles in nature and life and worked to perpetuate those repetitions for themselves and future generations. One source of First Nations’ beliefs talked about actions today that are good for up to seven generations of their offspring.

Some of the work of M. C. Escher echoes the cycles in life. He was a mathematician/artist whose work was all over North America during the 1960’s. Rooms were decorated with wooden tables that were originally rolls from the phone company, parachutes inverted on the ceiling and Escher prints on the walls, often in colours designed to glow in black light. He was known for many things such as invented creatures, perspective images that captured infinity or street scenes that morphed into books on shelves. Many of his works dealt with mathematics and our perceptions. Detailed drawings, etchings and wood engravings were what he worked with.  Rather than the black light colours of the 1960s most of his images were in black and white.

His work can be found on: MC Escher

(posted on 15 Nov 2022)

Jellyfish was shortened into jelly and it just seemed natural to imagine it with peanut butter, one of my staples. Combined on bread or toast it forms a beautiful union, one that would be known by many kids and their parents.
This substitution was one of the first coloured images I produced and although I had a plan for a book it was just starting.
On our way to New York City, Diane and I stopped over in Toronto where we visited my Aunt Helen, who’s turning 100 now. While in Toronto one of the trips I wanted to make was to see the Group of Seven in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
I was surprised when I discovered that a major show of Mary Pratt’s work was on at the same time. I have been fascinated by her detail and lifelikeness with everyday objects such as trout on tin foil and the dinners she was making. She shot slides of these meals so they didn’t have to sit as models while she recorded the details. Slides also helped her remember subtleties of colour and shape.
She transformed ordinary jars of jelly and jams into rich textures that held the secrets of the universe. All she needed was a little peanut butter.
There are a couple of videos on the National Gallery website:
Mary Pratt

If you are around the Nanaimo area on Sat Dec 3 from 10-4 or Sun Dec 4 from 12-4 you are invited to the Old City Panache, located at 250 Prideaux St. Dave will be there for Art Walk showing some of his paintings, prints, books and cards.
10% of any sales will go to the Parkinson’s Society of British Columbia.

(posted on 14 Oct 2022)

This was a new one for me.
There was a time when I was aware of thinking that I had become an idiot, and although I never had to wear a dunce cap at school I wasn’t a stellar student. I received physical punishment when as a new student in grade 5 I got the strap for a snow ball fight and then later I received a spanking for misspelling a word at a boys school. I went into Grade 11 when I was 14 because they thought a private school put me ahead so I would graduate sooner, but I got out of Grade 12 when I was 19. I needed 3 years to complete grade 11 and 2 years for grade 12. I thought any brains I had before had slipped out of the back of my head.
It was at college and then university that I realized I could do school and do it very well.
To the world I was an “idiot” but I learned that I was smart and could do the work that was required to maintain good marks.
A printmaker that I have always admired is Antonio Frasconi, an Uruguayan born artist who immigrated to the USA. He illustrated numerous books and did woodcuts that focused on his political beliefs. What I liked most about him was that he used the character of the wood in his prints, whether it was the grain of the wood or marks.
He didn’t try to hide the flaws and from him I learned that it’s OK to have imperfections that make you different.






(posted on 15 Sep 2022)

Herring is the correct spelling but you might see it as “hairing” which might in turn lead to imagining fish with hair all over their body. They also tend to school and show up in numbers during specific times of the season. The Scandinavian countries were very good at fermenting or smoking these fish and they became a staple and delicacy of their diet.
When I was thinking of hair and groups I gravitated towards the hippies of the 60’s who often grew their hair, believed in free love and practiced back-to-nature practices. There are still people around, especially in out-of-the-way places such as the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, who continue with aspects of the lifestyle advocated by hippies. Many of their values have now become mainstream and they have contributed much to our culture.
I don’t know him to be hairy but I would see a shot of “Angel of the North“ by Antony Gormley whenever I watched the titles for Vera on British TV. It is a huge steel sculpture on a hillside in West Yorkshire. It is a stylized figure in which spread out wings replace arms and it measures 20 meters high by 54 meters from wing tip to wing tip.
Another series of his that I like includes European Field and American Field. In these he covers the floor of rooms in buildings with small clay figures which all look up at you with cavities for eyes. It is both disturbing and enthralling at the same time. Mostly I wonder where he stores the sculptures between shows.

Antony Gormley

older blog items...