When Dorothy Ingalls had her fourth child in 1965 she put her paintbrushes away. It’s only been the past couple of years that she’s picked them back up.
The hiatus has not diminished her skills in the slightest, and Ingalls’ work — from both before and after — is now on display in the main gallery of the Station House Gallery for the month of June.
Her paintings showcase local landscapes, as well as Ingalls’ travels along the Dempster Highway and through the Maritimes, and provide a glimpse into the Cariboo of the 50s.
Ingalls’ first oil painting, a tar paper shack, painted when she was 15, is also on display and shows a mastery of the medium even then.
“These are the cobwebs of my memories,” Ingalls told visitors at the opening of the show, joking that “they were also cobwebs in my basement.”
Ingalls started painting in the 50s, joining the art club, which later became the Cariboo Arts Society. The influences of Vivien Cowan and Sonia Cornwall, who Ingalls painted with, are apparent in her pieces.
Ingalls said that her daughter, Melinda Mitchell, was part of what pushed Ingalls to pick back up the paintbrush and show her work.
“I feel like it was awful to have this talent unrealized and unappreciated, although all of us that know of it appreciate it. It needs more attention,” said Mitchell, joking that it was also to redeem herself as one of the reasons her mother stopped in the first place.
“I know this evening and this month of the art show will show her how talented she is and let the Cariboo and other people enjoy it as much as I have. All her granddaughters have pieces of art now — we all do. It’s really fun to see her in phases of her life too, where she started and when she stopped and started again. The things that fascinate her now are different over the years and it’s really fun and I’m excited for her.”
In fact, five of Ingalls’ grandchildren travelled to Williams Lake from different places through B.C. and Alberta, as well as other members of the family — some as far away as Edmonton for the opening of the show. “I didn’t really expect visitors. It is more for my grandchildren,” she said of the show.
Picking up the paintbrushes again has been fun, said Ingalls, especially since she’s begun to combine the painting with some of her travels across the continent.
“You feel bad you left it all that time ago. It’s like an old friend you left behind.”
Her paintings are mostly landscapes and scenes, though she admits to doing the occasional still life, particularly during winter.
Ingalls thanks the Station House for being so helpful.
To the many in town who have expressed surprise when they found out Ingalls paints: “I said it wasn’t that big of a deal.”