Linda Van Sickle

Linda Van Sickle

West Shore group practises the art of fundraising

Volunteers hosting painting workshops as part of work to bring Syrian family here

The Westshore Refugee Sponsorship Group is turning helping others into an art form with a series of fundraisers beginning next week.

Rebecca Barnard, an artist and community liaison for the group, is conducting a series of three Paint-In sessions aimed at people with an interest in exploring their creative side.

“It’s absolutely aimed at all skill levels,” she said. “People who have no experience can produce art and have fun doing it.”

Barnard, who teaches with a step-by-step approach, is donating her time and expertise to assist the group’s ongoing efforts to house a Syrian family on the West Shore.

The three sessions are offered in the morning and evening on different days to make scheduling as accommodating as possible, said Colwood resident Linda Van Sickle, group secretary.

The first workshops, scheduled for next Tuesday (Jan. 10) at 9:30 a.m. and Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Church of the Advent in Colwood, will explore painting in acrylic using a photo of Mount Baldy which has been already drawn on canvas.

The second sessions, set for Feb. 7 and 10 at the same times as the first, involve painting a single hibiscus flower pre-drawn on artist-quality watercolour paper.

Because watercolour is a more challenging medium, participants will employ a “wet in wet” method that lets the colour run and is fun and easy for a beginner, explained Barnard, who has taught art on south Vancouver Island for many years.

The final sessions on March 7 and 10 involve mixed media, including painting with gelatos, watercolour pencils, acrylic mediums, textured paper and preserved natural leaves to create a unique, personal design mounted on canvas.

“I’m very grateful to Opus Art Supplies for providing the canvasses,” said Barnard, who is donating the rest of the materials required for the classes.

Fundraisers are “immensely important in raising awareness in the community and achieving our goal,” Van Sickle said.

A gala event in June, an evening of music in October and donations from the community helped the Westshore Refugee Sponsorship Group approach the three-quarter mark of the $30,000 needed. Barnard and Van Sickle are hopeful the Paint-In sessions will enable the group to reach its goal.

Barnard is also donating all of the proceeds from the sales of eight of her paintings, which will be on display during the Paint-In sessions.

Sessions are three hours long and cost $50 each, and will be held at the Church of the Advent at 510 Mount View Ave. in Colwood. Participants must register three days before each session. Since classes are limited to 10 people, Van Sickle recommends registering early.

For more information or to register, stop by the Church of the Advent weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon, or email Bill Van Sickle at