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Henry Purdy marks personal milestones with new exhibit

Henry Purdy at his painting class at Ellen's Creek Gallery (photo: Buzz)Henry Purdy’s new exhibition of paintings at Ellen’s Creek Gallery is called 60/80 and sums up the fact that Henry is now 80 years old, and came to PEI to be a professional artist 60 years ago, when he took a job as the graphic designer for a Charlottetown radio station. 

The show will include a dozen new paintings along with other recent favourites in Henry’s favourite medium, acrylic. There will be about 30 works in all representing subjects that define his work—landscapes and florals. “I paint my surroundings,” he says.

In his earlier days as an artist, Henry admits to creating NSCAD-inspired abstractions, but remembers the day that he decided to try to paint a tomato plant in his garden. From that moment on he know what he wanted to do.

During the 1960s, Henry’s career followed a teaching path which included five years at the Art Department at Holland College. In 1977 Henry was picked to run the School of Visual Design at Holland College, a position he held until the School was closed in 1992.

Henry continued to teach. There were classes at UPEI, summer programs at such places and Lunenburg and Grand Manaan in Nova Scotia; along with countless workshops. 2018 marks Henry’s 54th year as a teacher. He began his association with Ellen’s Creek Gallery when he began to give classes for the original owner Gerry Cranford (father of present owner Doug Cranford) in 1969.

Students of Henry’s classes learn the technical art of painting, what Henry says is called the academic approach—using paint to give form, colour, proportion, texture and perspective; and suggest three dimensions.“A tree should look like a tree,” he explains.

Henry also encourages his students to learn “to see.” “The observation test” as he calls it. And he himself paints what he observes—flowers in his backyard, or woodland paths where the light is just right. “I know where they all are.” 

60/80 opens on Sunday, February 18 at 2:30 pm at Ellen’s Creek Gallery, 525 North River Road in Charlottetown.

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