Art for the soul

Colin MacLean
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Zelica Arsenault holds one of her pieces of art depicting local churches. Arsenault is selling prints of her work and giving all of the money away to various church parishes. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

Local artist selling prints of her work and giving away proceeds to the churches she’s painted

SUMMERSIDE – Some of Zelica Arsenault’s earliest memories are of paint and painting. 

Arsenault’s father was a commercial painter in the Rustico area and she remembers fondly the patterns and movements he’d make as he worked and she was fascinated by the tools he used.

As she got older and decided to learn about her father’s craft, she singled out churches as a source of inspiration.

Churches, she reasoned, are uniquely beautiful.

“We took to driving across the Island just to visit the churches,” reflected the now 82-year-old great-grandmother.  

“Every Sunday we’d go for a drive with the kids and I’d take the church’s picture; the next morning I’d sketch it and by the afternoon I could paint it. Once I’d done one, I had to do the others.”

Unfortunately, Arsenault suffered a stroke in 2002 that largely put an end to her painting days.

She now lives at the new Summerset Manor in Summerside, her husband, Joe maintains their home in Wellington.

So for the past several years her paintings sat in storage, on her walls at home or in her room at Summerset.

Until now.

Now, she’s giving something back to the churches that inspired her to paint; as thanks for the many hours of pleasure she had in sketching and painting them.

And to her surprise, she’s found herself something of an in-demand artist.

Not something she ever thought she’d be, she laughed.

 “I just did it for the pleasure.”

“I never thought that they were something people would want, I guess. But it’s exciting – it’s something to talk about.”

Arsenault has started selling prints of her work for $10 each and is donating all the funds to whatever church is depicted in each. She has churches from Mont-Carmel, Indian River, Wellington and Egmont Bay that are in print.

She also has several variations on a Confederation Bridge scene, however, she’s donating that money to her grandson’s class trip to Montreal.

Originally, Arsenault started by having a few prints at her own church in Mont-Carmel, which has a small tourist shop, and by friends and family picking up a few. But a couple of months ago she met someone who was really inspired by her paintings.

Heather Blouin works with Home Instead Senior Care and was introduced to Arsenault during one of her many visits to Summerset.

She was immediately taken by the older woman’s work and her plan to help out the churches.

“When I came in here and saw those paintings I thought, are those pictures or paintings? I couldn’t believe how much they were to scale, how beautiful they were and that she had created those by hand,” said Blouin.

“I just got inspired by how talented she is and how willing she is to help her community and give back to the churches,” she added.

So Blouin offered to help Arsenault and her husband expand the scope of their plan a bit by setting up a few displays of her prints around the community and spreading the word about them.

They’ve since gotten inquiries from as far away as Ontario, said Blouin, mostly from people with a special connection to each church.

She’s also helping to co-ordinate and acting as a contact for Joe, who Arsenault laughs about being her manager.

It’s all in good fun, said Arsenault.

“I’m very blessed,” she added.

Anyone who would like to inquire about getting one of Arsenault’s prints can contact Blouin at heather.blouin@homeinstead.com, call 1-866-573-8787 and ask for Heather, or they can drop by the Tracey’s Place café in Wellington.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

@JournalPMacLean

Organizations: Home Instead Senior Care

Geographic location: Wellington, Rustico, Iceland Mont-Carmel Summerside Indian River Egmont Bay Montreal Ontario

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  • Heather
    March 21, 2014 - 22:19

    Fantastic lady, fantastic story! Thanks Collin!??