Nanoose Bay artist Kelly Corbett believes nature has the power to heal.
In her exhibit at the Qualicum Art Supply and Gallery, showing until the end of May, Corbett brings the wilderness indoors in hopes of reminding viewers of the greater world.
“I tried to bring the outside ‘in’ to pay tribute to the natural world and remind us how rewarding it can be to take the time and reconnect with nature,” she said.
As doctors in B.C. can now prescribe Parks Canada passes to patients as a form of healing, Corbett asked herself why she couldn’t do something similar with her work.
“As my artwork hangs on your wall, it’s also a constant reminder of – hey maybe I should go outside and visit this place that I admire on my wall so much,” she said. “It’s a form of healing, and people also get out and exercise.”
As an avid outdoorswoman, being in nature and adventuring is another of Corbett’s passions, especially since she can use it as an excuse to “work” and find inspiration for future paintings.
In fact, she plans to take most of the summer off to go adventuring with her best friend, where in August they’ll travel to Haida Gwaii and hike a network of trails for the month.
“Maybe I can create a whole exhibition on the summer of travel,” she said with a chuckle.
Her three favourite subjects to paint include West Coast scenes, as inspired by her surroundings; the Okanagan, as she lived there for approximately four years; and B.C. birds for their detail and since they can always be found anywhere in the wild.
“You might not always see a bear or a moose, but you will always see a bird. If only a crow,” she said. “Although – West Coast is definitely where my passion is. And that’s what I connect to the most right now.”
As a full-time artist, ‘painter’s block’ doesn’t affect her, as there is always something to accomplish, she said, as she ‘pushes through’ paintings as necessary in order to work on something she is truly excited about.
“I’m not an artist that has to feel motivated in order to work all the time. I’m always inspired. That’s never an issue for me – there’s always something I can do. Even if I don’t feel totally into working on something with detail, I can always just do something simpler,” she said, and added that she aims to paint every day, if only for 30 minutes.
Most of the pieces on display in Qualicum Beach were completed within the last year and feature the various landscapes and seascapes of Vancouver Island. A few smaller pieces on display, however, do feature Chilliwack Lake, the Rocky Mountains and Mount Baker to round out the collection.
Corbett’s collections act as a reflection of any recent outdoor adventures.
“I love the idea of my artwork providing something for people who might not otherwise be able to get there, either because they don’t kayak or if it’s a long distance away,” she said.
As a realist painter that works in acrylics, she said she’s inclined to maintain separation from photo-realism, as to keep the element of interpretation alive.
“In some cases, it can look almost abstract when you’re up close. But then, the further away you get from the piece, the more realistic it becomes. Which I really love – that duality. Because it still makes it seems like a painting and not a photograph.”
Corbett has been immersed in the art world since the age of eight when her mother signed her up for private lessons with instructor she ended up studying under until she attended university.
After earning a fine arts diploma that she “didn’t know what to do with”, Corbett returned to school and earned a diploma in photography where she worked as a wedding and portrait photographer for approximately 14 years. In doing so, she’s brought a photographer’s eye to her paintings as she considers factors like light and composition.
On the horizon, the outdoorswoman armed with a paintbrush is preparing for a solo exhibition at the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville for May 2023, and looks forward to creating a whole new collection to fill the main room.