Bonnie Coulter is a guest artist on the annual Stinking Fish Studio Tour which begins July 23 and runs to Ausust 1.

New artist on Stinking Fish Tour

Bonnie Coulter joins studio tour

East Sooke artist Bonnie Coulter may be a newcomer to the Stinking Fish Studio Tour, but she is no stranger to art.

Recently retired, Coulter is focusing full time on painting, and will be displaying her work during the tour.

“My background is actually in architecture — I started out as an architectural draftsman.”

It was sketching out illustrations of buildings that first drew Coulter to art  about three decades ago. She sold her first painting in 1986, but her infatuation started long before that.

Her home workshop is nestled in the heart of East Sooke, and the first noticeable thing besides the nature-themed creations hanging everywhere is how immaculate the space is.

“Can you tell I’m a bit of a neat freak?” asked Coulter who said she does her best work when things are organized.

Paintings and mixed-media artwork adorn the walls — a colourful starfish stretched out in a frame; a landscape of a vast empty field in front of the House of Blues in South Carolina; a three-dimensional plaster mold cast of Coulter’s face.

Coulter, who is also an avid gardening enthusiast and writer, said she can feel creative by just going for a walk among the shrubbery that surrounds her house.

“I start thinking about my favorite plants, and they all have a character,” she said.

Certain plants behave in different ways in the garden and some of them are really stiff characters, other ones are just flouncy little floozies.

“That’s what I love, the personality.”

Besides vegetation, Coulter said her daughter Angela Menzies, who just happens to be an artist and is one of the tour’s founding members, also provides much of her inspiration.

Almost everything displayed is for sale during the tour and is the result of about six months of work. She joins eight other guest artists in this year’s tour, who have to complete two stints before being considered a permanent member.

Stinking Fish — which is the First Nation’s word for Metchosin, is a self-guided rural tour taking visitors to Sooke, East Sooke and Metchosin.  Artists open up their studios to display and sell their work. Besides painting, artists also create pottery, woodwork and even instruments.

The event is in its 11th year and runs from July 23 to Aug. 1.  For detailed information go to www.stinkingfishstudiotour.com.