Walking along Esquimalt Lagoon, Paul Lewis sees things many people don’t.
Armed with a bag and keen eye, Lewis sets out searching for pieces of driftwood. It’s not long before he’s collected enough pieces, which he then dumps onto the sand and begins to sort through. Slowly, but surely, Lewis finds the perfect pieces to fit together to be transformed into art.
“It’s like putting a puzzle together to see which pieces fit,” Lewis said. “It just starts to come alive, I guess the wood just speaks to me.”
The 46-year-old Langford resident is the artist behind the four new faces at the lagoon in Colwood. Last week, Lewis created the eagle, a horned owl and a nesting raven that sit on logs overlooking the ocean. He also recently finished making Canada geese from driftwood that sit between the eagle and the owl.
For most of his artistic career, Lewis has painted West Coast wildlife and native art with acrylic. Several years ago, he had an exhibit in Victoria, and most recently was commissioned to create a painting depicting orcas for a woman in Vancouver.
After being stuck inside his home by Langford Lake for most of last week after having a tooth pulled, Lewis felt the urge to get creative again, this time with a new medium. Last Friday he headed down to the Lagoon – a place he goes every morning to drink coffee and enjoy nature – and started collecting driftwood.
Roughly four and a half hours and dozens of seashells later, he created his first piece, the eagle, which represents Lewis’ love for birds and the fact that the Lagoon is a bird sanctuary.
His work has received a lot of support from the public so far. Lewis said he also received a call from Comox Valley artist Alex Witcombe, who created McGnarly the Beach Ent last year, to do a collaboration piece in the future.
“The feedback I’ve received is inspiring,” Lewis said.
That feedback also included a call from Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton thanking Lewis for his art.
“It’s awesome. It’s creating from what’s at hand. I’m happy to see it there,” Hamilton said. “It adds to everyone’s walk and kids who are poking along to see things. Thank you [to Paul] for sharing his talents with us in a way that so many people can enjoy.”