Dave Stevens


(posted on 16 Aug 2023)

Steelhead trout have suffered from overfishing and changes in the natural landscape which affects their ability to return from the ocean to some of the rivers and streams of their birth. They are a sea run trout that comes back stronger and larger as they develop. The farther north you go the bigger they become. They are sought after by fly and float casting fisher people. For me combining the metal heads with the fish body was a natural as I had been producing mechanical creatures for awhile. I recently published a book called The Red Door based on illustrations of mechanical insects and a enclosed manufactured garden.

Some good friends, Deborah and Terry Hopkins, took us to see Beyond Van Gogh in Victoria on Vancouver Island. If you‘ve never been I recommend that you go. There were three parts to the show: a life history with quotes set against close-ups of his paintings, a moving compilation of parts of his work that covered a wall and the floor, followed by a large room with views of Vincent’s work complete with transitions  to the next ones that were displayed. I have seen originals but here the size and juxtapositions were overwhelming. Vincent created many pieces, some of which I recognized but others were new to me.
Vincent was seen as the epitome of mental anguish combined with a drive to create. One thing that people often know is that he cut off a portion of an ear to convince a woman of his love. He is purported to have only sold one of his paintings during his lifetime and yet he has become a major influence in modern art and his use of colour, his choice of subjects and his use of stylized marks have contributed to many modern artists.


I wanted to let people know they can contribute to the funds raised for Parkinson's research by supporting individuals through the SuperWalk. I will be participating.


(posted on 31 Jul 2023)

I wanted to let you know that I will be involved on the last weekend of August in the Art Jam and Art on the Avenue.

The problem is that it occurs in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island and that automatically means some of you won't be in the area. But .........

Hope you or somebody you know can make it.


(posted on 14 Jul 2023)

Rats are often seen as carriers of disease, or we associate them with areas such as the
inner city. I saw a number of rats when I worked on art with the homeless in Surrey and I
found myself worrying about rats who climb into engine area of cars and chew on the
hoses. Our reactions are often based on perceptions of dirtiness but the ratfish received its name for its looks as it reminded people of the rodent’s appearance with its tail formation and front teeth. They are, in fact, deep sea creatures who can grow to four and one-half feet long and are most often seen in our shallower waters at night. Ratfish are a slow swimming fish who feed on clams, crabs and sea worms. They rely upon a poisonous spine located at the dorsal fin on its back, a non-aggressive form of self-defense.

Harkeerat Mangat was a student who came along near the end of my teaching career, and he was in a group that excited and challenged me. As a grade 10 student he was invited to join in a show at Melissa Lane’s store/gallery in New Westminster and he graduated from North Delta Secondary. Harkeerat also displayed work at the prestigious Buschlen-Mowatt Gallery in Vancouver along with Tristan Unrau, following which he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Emily Carr College of Art + Design and a Master of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf, Germany. He has since gone on to establish himself as a multidisciplinary artist in Germany and Vancouver. He combines faith with artistic vision so that there is no separation between the two. What he believes dictates what he creates.
Harkeerat Mangat

(posted on 14 Jun 2023)

The quill fish is one of my favourites, especially the surprised look and the quills from which it gets its name. Quillbacks are a type of rockfish which inhabit many of the waters around British Columbia. They move from tidal pools as young and can live several hundred feet below the surface as adults.They hang around rock faces in what we humans would consider upside down postures. Their quills are limited to the fins on their back and sides. You must watch out when handling these fish as their quills might stick you. Not a bad defence against being eaten.

A favourite artist is the woman named Kathe Kollowitz. A woman who died in her 60’s in 1945 she was a German expressionist who believed in having a social conscience. She fought against poverty and hunger and fought for women’s issues and workers’ rights. She was an artist who worked with printmaking, painting and sculpture. Some of her prints show women in poverty and the choices they are confronted with or workers protesting poor working conditions. Some images have stayed with me  especially those of women fighting against a personified death. Very memorable.
Kathe Kollowitz

(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.


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