Cowichan artist brings art to B.C.’s sick children

Valley artist Bernadette McCormack is excitedly clearing the decks for a special project: painting murals to make sick kids feel better.

Valley artist Bernadette McCormack is excitedly clearing the decks for a special project: painting murals to make sick kids feel better.

She’s been chosen as one of the artists for the Healing Art program going into the new wing of BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

“The room will be wrapped completely in my art: all four walls and the ceiling,” she said.

“The process is very cool, too. I’m not going to be painting on the walls. I’m going to be creating paintings at one-quarter-scale. Then those get scanned and blown up to full-size-scale and transferred onto some sort of vinyl material that will then be installed in the room. So it all meets the codes of sanitation and so the walls can be cleaned.”

Her designs feature an underwater theme, in calm, cool colours.

“I believe it’s in an emergency room for everything from ‘I need stitches’ to ‘We’re prepping this person for surgery’.”

The whole idea of being involved with BC Children’s Hospital is wonderful for McCormack.

“I used to be an early childhood educator. I spent a lot of time with children and children have inspired my work. So I feel that everything’s gone full circle now that I get to contribute to the healing process,” she said.

“I am honoured to have been chosen as one of the artists. This project is very close to my heart.”

For McCormack, who is a painter, not a graphic artist, getting the commission has involved a learning curve.

“Somebody had forwarded me the link to the application process and encouraged me to apply because they thought my art would be a good fit. Shortly thereafter, somebody else forwarded to me, and then I had two or three more people suggesting I apply. So I did.

“I have to say the application process took me 10 hours. I had to get help with the technical end of things, but I managed to get the application off and then I waited. Then I got a phone call one day saying I had been chosen and my work had been chosen for a mural and they sent me a contract,” she said.

The painter then began the process of sending in sketches and getting them revised and approved.

Next, she had to get the final measurements of the spaces confirmed so she’d know what size paintings to create before heading to Victoria to secure the big canvases she needed.

“It’s very exciting,” she said.

Mural painting of this type is often the realm of the graphic artist, but McCormack comes from a different world.

“I paint as I see it. So, this is a little bit of a learning curve; I understand the process but measurements and elevations, the technical end of it, has been different. I’ve had to engage the help of a professional graphic designer to help me develop mockups and stuff. I think some of the artists involved might be graphic designers, but mine is all organic.”