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Welcoming discomfort in life and art
Jan M. Byers wouldn’t be content if she didn’t regularly get out of her comfort zone.
Moving around for years with her family to her husband’s various job locations, she traveled and settled in areas of Canada, Africa and Europe. In every place she lived she pushed herself to go to higher levels of thinking and accomplishment, constantly adjusting to new comfort levels. And now, retired from nursing after nearly 40 years, she’s pushing herself with her art.
“It’s my nature I guess to go into a zone of discomfort,” said the Qualicum Beach artist.
Byers’ acrylic paintings, both abstract and representational, are hanging for sale at the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply.
Byers grew up in southwestern Ontario and she always had a love for art and learning. In high school, while other students were out socializing, she was doing research.
“I was the high school student that would go to library after school and look up the old masters,” she laughed.
When she was 24 she completed a nursing certificate and worked in intensive care. After meeting her husband she moved the family with him to his various job locations, and it was this exploration of different environments, culture and people that awakened something in her, she said.
“That made me see with different eyes and I started to really look and take note of what I was feeling when looking at either landscapes or people’s faces and I decided I wanted to put that on canvas.”
When they returned to Calgary, Byers decided she wanted her career to be in public heath and prevention, so she went back to school to get a nursing degree at 38. While studying at the University of Calgary, she began to also take a number of art classes and soon she was juried into an art gallery show.
“That really motivated me to pursue art that I had missed out on all those years,” she said.
She took classes and workshops at the Alberta College of Art and Design and held a number of exhibitions.
Now that Byers is retired she can “lean into” her discomfort zones, she said, for example she has painted representational art for many years and is now challenging herself to do abstract work, as well as other subjects and mediums.
Byers started painting with oils about 25 years ago and soon moved to acrylic. Today she also paints with watercolours.
These days Byers likes to create bold, uplifting pieces which helps her counter all the turmoil in the world, she said.
“I try to find the beauty in a subject, that seems to keep me positive, keep me grounded, with a positive outlook for the future.”
Although she’s moved around to a number of stunning places, it’s the place she goes while painting that continues to give her joy.
“It’s getting into that right brain zone that is just such a lovely feeling. Time passes: an hour, two or three can pass, and all of a sudden you come out the other side and you think, where did that time go?”
Visit Byers’ website at www.janbyers.ca.
The Gallery @ Qualicum Art supply is located at 206 W. First Ave.