Princeton artists Merrylin Huycke holds a portrait of a local singer and pianist.

Princeton artists Merrylin Huycke holds a portrait of a local singer and pianist.

Princeton artist draws inspiration from Okanagan landscape

Merrylin Huycke uses Princeton's interesting people and beautiful scenery to create her artwork.

Princeton painter and sculptor Merrylin Huycke looks to the region’s lush landscapes and interesting people for inspiration.

Although the veteran artist does “a bit of everything,” lately she’s been focusing on portraits and landscapes with people nestled in them.

Her most recent painting – a portrait of a local singing – is one of Huycke’s favourite forms of art.

“People are terrifically intriguing, so I really enjoy painting them,” she said.

Huycke became interested in portraits when she was asked to colour black-and-white photos in the late 1960s. The company she worked took mostly photos of people for events such as graduation.

She now sees herself putting people in her landscapes more and more often.

As soon as Huycke arrived in Princeton, she knew the area was home. Since then, she has seen her artwork transform.

“The landscape really starts to affect you wherever you are,” she said.

Huycke grew up on the Prairies, so everything she used to paint was long and flat. Since moving to B.C., she’s had to flip the canvas vertically to account for the dominant hills and trees.

There weren’t many artists in Princeton when she first arrived, which allowed her to focus more on her paintings and sculptures.

One of the challenges of working in a small town is having to travel for supplies, sometimes all the way to Kelowna, she said.

Huycke and her husband took a trip across Canada three years ago in search of a place that hadn’t been touched by people.

“I had an epiphany that the two had to be together, because you can’t recognize a place if you’re not there to see it,” she said.

“You can’t separate the two.”

She was amazed by the different landscapes and people across Canada.

“The landscape really changes the people. It’s like different little countries all the way across.”

Her current work-in-progress is a scenic painting of a girl sitting beside a lake and towering trees.

Her daughter posed for the painting beside one of Huycke’s favourite trees near Princeton.

She uses mostly water colour and acrylic, and has steered clear from oil because the fumes can be dangerous to artists’ health.

“They’re coming out with water-soluble oils, which sounds like an oxymoron. But it makes it a bit cleaner.”

Huycke likes teaching children art. Her most recent class made a colourful totem pole on display at the Riverside Centre.

“It’s hard to keep up with them, but it was really great to see them learn.”