Doris Dittaro has created a legacy for her children and a memento for guests of the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
Her watercolour “Home From the Rink” was one of a select few chosen for VIP gifting cards.
“They printed five hundred cards with my photo and bio on the back. I was quite surprised when I got a phone call telling me my work had been selected for the gifting cards.”
The image was actually created several years ago, she said, when Papyrus Printing put out a call for artists’ work to illustrate a calendar.
“Six of my closest artistic friends and I had formed The Milltown Artists back in the 70s. We got together and created something for the calendar. In exchange, Papyrus made us each 100 prints of our artwork and the owner has the original.”
Two boys trudging home in deep snow inspired the painting, said Dittaro.
“A couple of neighbourhood boys, James and Jamie, were coming home from the rink and they passed by my house. So I took a photo of them through the window and that’s what I worked from.”
Dittaro has lived in Prince George since the 1970s and has raised four children here, three boys and a girl. She recently exhibited her work at Two Rivers Gallery in an exhibit called Our Trees.
In a Shaw TV program about the exhibit, Dittaro said when she starts to paint she puts on her music and “just gets lost in it.”
She said she’s always impressed at the resilience of nature when it comes to trees given forest fires, pine beetle and tent caterpillar infestations.
Her own resilience is just as remarkable.
In the TV segment (available on YouTube), curator George Harris says Dittaro has been “a mainstay” of the local art scene for decades. And Dittaro admits she’s been an artist for as long as she can remember.
“In the 70s I was a founder of the 2880 Artists’ Workshop which is still going strong today,” she said. “As the Milltown Artists, our group painted and exhibited all through the Central Interior. For the 2000 Centennial, we travelled the Bella Coola trail and did landscapes and our work was exhibited at the Royal Museum in Victoria.
“So that was a real highlight for us.”
The artist loves going outdoors on location or “plein air” to do her work.
“My son has a cottage on the Shuswap where I love to go to paint. I started in watercolours and oils and now I’m doing mostly acrylics – except when I go on location because it’s easier to carry watercolours around.”
Fellow artist Ann Bogle is her neighbour, she says. Bogle recently returned to Prince George after living on Vancouver Island and her acrylic on canvas works were featured at Groop Gallery.
Are any of her offspring artists?
Dittaro says her grandson Michael may have inherited some of her creativity.
“He went to art school in Edmonton – he’s got the gift,” she says with a smile.
Doris Dittaro’s are work can be seen at Studio 2880’s gift shop.