This month, the Winnipeg River Arts Council features Bernice Phillips, a visual artist from Powereview-Pine Falls. Although she has lived there for thirty-nine years, she still feels inspired by the beauty of the river and surrounding forests.
Phillips grew up in Rivers, Manitoba, but moved to the area in grade ten. After marriage, she lived in Toronto for two years, but returned to be closer to her family and nature.
Phillips paints mostly with acrylics, on various surfaces, and likes to decorate useable objects such as glass blocks and furniture. She also learned how to use water colours and airbrush, and paints murals on walls of all kinds.
Like many artists, she took up painting after attending a workshop. Since then, she has taken many classes and gone on to instruct other artists. She notes two workshops which especially influenced her, one with Nancy Lou Ateah from Victoria Beach, and another with Roberta Laliberte from Powerview-Pine Falls.
Phillips likes experimenting, and reads to learn more about brushes, paint and other products. She says, “I look at growing things, to see how they’re put together. I try to replicate that.”
In 2013, she exhibited her work at Eastman Judged Art Exhibition in Pinawa. During March, her paintings will be displayed at Gwen Fox Gallery in Selkirk, which will also showcase the art of her sister, Emily De Groot. Phillips used to sell her work, along with forty other artists, at the Artists’ Coop near Grand Beach. She also served on the Winnipeg River Arts Council board.
For twelve years, Phillips sold local artists’ work in her store, “Through the Arbour,” in downtown Pine Falls. This store also carried coffee, chocolates, handicrafts, health foods and herbal products. Her husband, Jon Phillips, does massage therapy in a room in the back and proudly shows visitors examples of his wife’s art.
Recently, Phillips downsized her business but the store is still open and the massage therapy continues. She says, “I am grateful; my family has always supported my art. It means a lot to me.”