Meghan Dasilva, left, of Turns and Tales, with Josh Young, artist Vicki McFarland, and Shyra Thibeault, of Turns and Tales. Josh found Vicki’s painting, ‘Sweet Sunshine,’ inside Turns and Tales on International Art & Found Day on March 12. Photo submitted to the Ridgetown Independent News

A local artist had such a gratifying experience participating in her first International Art & Found Day; she wants to donate more paintings and hopes other artists will join in on the fun next year.

Vicki McFarland, a Lake Morningstar resident, created a special painting that one lucky resident found in the Art & Found Day ‘hide and seek’ style promotion on Sunday, March 12.

Josh Young and his father, Chris, of Chatham, found the art piece McFarland hid and are the proud owners of ‘Sweet Sunshine,’ a 34” x 40” painting valued over $1,000.

It was McFarland’s first time participating in International Art & Found Day.

The event started seven years ago by Toronto artist Courtney Senior who hid original artworks around different neighbourhoods and provided clues to help people find the paintings.

“I just heard about this before last year’s event,” said McFarland, as interest has grown worldwide, with over 770 artists in 38 countries participating this year. “I would have loved to have participated last year, but I didn’t have time to put anything together.”

McFarland said the event is held on March 12 in honour of the birthday of Senior’s late father, who encouraged her from a young age to follow her love of painting.

“The whole premise is how exciting it is to give away a piece of art,” McFarland said. “Not everyone can afford to collect art. It’s a great opportunity to get the community involved and spread some joy.”

Mike McFarland from Ridgetown, Vicki’s husband, promoted her involvement in Art & Found Day on Instagram and provided clues for people to find her hidden painting.

She posted her first clue on Saturday, “in Chatham-Kent the Thames runs through it.”

At 10 o’clock on Sunday, she added, “it’s near a bank and the bank of a river,” which sent a few dozen people scrambling to downtown Chatham.

Her next clue was posted at 11 a.m., “enjoy a cafe while you sit in a chair.”

This clue brought the Whites to Turns & Tales on King St. W. in Chatham, next door to Scotiabank, on the banks of the Thames River.

Josh found the painting hanging on a wall inside Turns & Tales, a combination book store, cafe and board game venue.

“They were searching all of the banks on King Street based on my first clue and found it within 15 minutes of my second clue,” McFarland said.

“I had a whole limerick ready with an additional three clues coming … oh well, next year,” she said with a laugh.

From her feedback, McFarland estimates that about 100 people in the downtown area were trying to find the hidden painting.

“I had a quite few message me to say, ‘oh, I just missed it,’” she said.

McFarland (nee Okrucky) has had a lifelong love of art since her childhood in Dresden.

She took lessons from local portraiture artist Gladys Lawrence, continued to study through high school and was considered for a scholarship to the Ontario College of Art, but was unsuccessful.

However, she put her artwork on the back burner when she and Mike worked at Union Gas while raising three sons in Dresden. When they moved to London for the job in 2011, she had more leisure time and picked up the brush again.

“Wayne Dyer is my favourite author, and his quote, ‘don’t die with your music still in you,’ is something that still resonates with me,” McFarland said. “I often wonder how my life trajectory would have changed had I stayed with it.”

She became more immersed in her painting after her mother’s death in 2015. McFarland was offered the opportunity to exhibit for artwork at the Westland Gallery in London, which was a jumping stone to getting her works on the international art scene. Her paintings were soon found in Paris, Hong Kong, Germany, Portugal, Florida, Montreal and Toronto galleries.

“The wonderful world of media we’re in, that’s how galleries found me, through Instagram,” McFarland said. “I’ve been fortunate to have some pretty good gallery representation and have had pieces go to different areas of the world, where 20 years ago I never would have reached.”

She ramped up her painting after the McFarlands retired from Union Gas and moved to Lake Morningstar in 2019.

Her works have been featured in the Thames Art Gallery, and she had a recent display at ARTSpace in downtown Chatham.

“The feeling of peace, to be able to paint and be able to create and have somebody get that joyful emotion, to be excited about your work,” McFarland said about the pleasure she gets from her artwork.

She is frequently complimented on the emotion people feel when viewing her works.

“I’m pretty lucky to be able to do what I do,” she said.

With the success of her first Art & Found Day, she hopes to get more participation from fellow artists and the community on March 12, 2024.

“I am planning on doing more than one painting next year and hide them in other towns,” said McFarland. “I have other artists who have reached out to me and have expressed an interest in joining, so hopefully we can make it an even bigger event and get more people in the community involved.”

You can find more information and view McFarland’s creations on her website

By Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 20, 2023 at 13:15

This item reprinted with permission from   The Independent News   Ridgetown, Ontario
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