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Twillingate pencil artist set to open his gallery in May


Taking the plunge

TWILLINGATE, NL – Pencil artist Scott Lewis is now nearing completion of his new gallery in downtown Twillingate.

It is the next big venture in a growing artistic career that has become a full-time job for the former fisherman.

“Now I’m putting all my eggs into one basket. I’m taking the plunge to build my own gallery,” said Lewis. “If you don’t take the risk you’ll always wonder what could’ve been.”
Lewis found a natural talent for drawing, with his interest in the craft beginning as a young boy.

“All my life I’ve been drawing – in school, at home, all the time,” said Lewis. “It was like it was born into me.”

In fourth and fifth grade Lewis won awards for his art and had two pieces featured in the Newfoundland Herald when he was in Grade 6.

His love of drawing never stopped, but it was only 10 years ago that Lewis decided to focus on his art.

“I really started to put my heart and soul into it and put a lot of time into one drawing,” Lewis recalled. “The first one I did was of my grandfather’s stage and it took me about 30 hours to complete.”

As the years went on, Lewis became even more meticulous and thorough with his work. He say his average drawing now takes about 70 hours to finish.

This attention to detail is a required aspect of the pointillism style of art Lewis’ work falls under. With this tiny dot-to-dot technique of drawing, Lewis’s hand moves like a sewing machine along the paper.

The studio

His first art show was in Grand Falls-Windsor, and Lewis has added more shows across the province with time. To cash in on Twillingate’s busy and growing tourist season, he began using a space at the town’s Orange Lodge as a gallery for the summer.

The gallery proved so successful Lewis began setting his sights on opening a space of his own.

When a piece of bog across from the R&J Restaurant went up for sale last year Lewis jumped on the opportunity. Construction on the gallery began in September of last year, and Scott Lewis’s Pencil Art Studio is now set to open in May.

“It’s been slow growing, but it’s now at the point where I can make a living at this,” said Lewis. “I’ve built up confidence over the years and I know I can do this – it’s no longer a gamble.”

As well as prints, magnets, cards and mats for sale, Lewis’ gallery is utilizing some other efforts to attract tourists to the shop.

Lewis’ uncle is currently working on an 18-foot by seven-foot lobster trap. The framing is done on the trap and now the netting is being prepared.

The giant lobster trap will be an eccentric place for tourists to get their picture taken, and Lewis hopes it will also be bait to get them to visit his gallery.

An eight-foot tall puffin with a pencil in his mouth is also being built to put on the side of the building. Lewis says these eye-catching items are essential to draw in tourists.

“The thing is, you got to catch people’s attention, especially if they’re only in the area for one day,” he said.

With a new microbrewery, restaurants and other businesses in the works, Lewis says a strong sense of community has grown alongside Twillingate’s tourism industry.

“Tourism here is exceptional and it’s great that the town helps one another out,” said Lewis. “As long as we keep getting icebergs everyone will do well.”

The puffin outhouse and following in Dad’s footsteps

Lewis’s art is ingrained in a purely Newfoundland aesthetic, with puffins, stages and whales as staple features of his drawings.

His top-selling item is one that surprised both his friends and Lewis himself.

Lewis sketched out an old rugged outhouse and decided to add some humour by placing puffins inside and around the outhouse – titling the piece “Strange Looking Bird House.”

When he posted the work to Facebook his friends told him it didn’t make sense and would never sell. But now Lewis says it is by far his best seller.

“Tourists come into my gallery just to ask ‘are you the guy with the puffins in the outhouse?’” he said. “Every second tourist that comes in – that’s the print they buy.”
Lewis has 25 different drawings on display in the gallery and is currently working on a moose drawing.

His 11-year-old son Nathan is now getting into the craft as well. Last year Nathan drew a longliner and began printing copies to sell alongside his father’s artwork at local craft shows. Lewis says Nathan managed to sell 257 prints of his longliner art, and bought his own Xbox out of the profits.

“The little one is starting to follow in my footsteps,” Lewis said. “He’s planning on drawing two puffins for this year.”

kyle.greenham@northernpen.ca

 

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