Bill Skuce kayaking on Sooke Basin.

Remembering Bill Skuce, local artist, athlete and gentleman

Sooke community members remember an artist in their midst

Bill Skuce was a talented artist, an athlete, a friend to many and a gentleman with a sense of humour. That’s what those who knew him said.

Bill Skuce died quietly and peacefully at home on February 10, 2015.

He was known in Sooke as an artist and a dedicated follower of the Baha’i faith. He was a loving husband and father.

Bill painted professionally for over 40 years as a graphic designer and art instructor/teacher in Fort Smith and Yellowknife, NWT, in Canada  and in Costa Rica. Born in Ottawa in 1935, he received his formal artistic training from the Ontario College of Art, the University of Victoria and Mexico’s Instituto de Allende and had a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Art.

His wife Houri met Bill in Ottawa 48 years ago, as she was coming from Switzerland on her way to North Bay, Ontario. She remembered two things that most attracted her; his artistic abilities and his spirituality. Added to those were his charm, sense of humour and good looks. This mutual attraction resulted in their engagement five months later and they were married shortly after.

For Bill art, among other things, was an adventure of discovery. Over the years he had visited and revisited the rich vistas of water colour, acrylics, oil paint, mixed media, pastels, collage and printmaking. His subject matter ranged from non-objective and semi-abstract to wildlife, portrait, landscape and still life. He was at ease with most painting media having produced and exhibited sizable bodies of work. His “adventures” ranged from figurative to non-objective and back again.

Referring to his early artistic development, he said, “It could be considered presumptuous of me to even mention the great masters of High Renaissance and Baroque painting in connection with my own work, yet I have no choice but to acknowledge their role and I have no recourse but to pay homage to them for what I learn and have learned under their tutelage. Having been born in the first half of the 20th Century my development as an artist was heavily influenced by the prevailing schools, styles and painters from the Impressionists on. Like many, in my younger years I traveled the road of abstraction and was dazzled by the historically prominent, the likes of Cezanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Picasso, Tobey and O’Keefe”.

After moving to Sooke in 2004 he began an artistic exploration of the rich and varied beauty of the South Island landscape, particularly in the vicinity of Sooke.

Bill took an active interest in the art groups and artists in Sooke and many considered him a true friend.

“I bought a picture of a seascape that intrigued me as it looked like the scene outside my windows not knowing anything about the artist Bill Skuce.  He delivered the picture while we were having a wine and cheese party.  I invited him to join us and saw at once that Bill loved people.  I also realized that I liked this man,” said author Shirley Skidmore.

His daughter Anisa Newell, also an artist said, “Dad strove to manifest a powerful unity in his compositions, he knew that once achieved, it would transform the image be it abstract  or other. Unity is a powerful force and he knew that when unity existed in his work the quality of its light would be such as to uplift and bring clarity to the mind and heart of the viewer.  It was this quotation from the Baha’i writings, that inspired and fed both his life and artistic process, “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”

He combined a unassuming intellect, spirituality, artistic genius, athleticism that holds a place in my heart, the words of Regginald Newkirk, a longtime Baha’i friend.

Bill Skuce’s paintings can be found in public and private collections in Canada, the U.S. England, Switzerland, France, China and Costa Rica. www.billskuce.com

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