This watercolour painting by Kimberly Miller, titled A Well-Dressed Englishman, is one of many depicting nature, animals, plants and landscapes in the Mount Arrowsmith area, showing at the MAC from Jan. 15-Feb. 24. — Submitted by Kimberly Miller

Nature unites everyone: artist showing in Parksville

Kimberly Miller’s watercolour exhibit running Jan. 15-Feb.24

Having moved to Vancouver Island in 2007, and then to Errington near the Englishman River and Mount Arrowsmith in 2014, Kimberly Miller says her connection to nature and her art have both grown immensely.

Now living on a farm where the seasons and growing things have become ever more vital to her, Miller said her artistic inspiration abounds, resulting in a watercolour exhibit called Rainshadow: In the shelter of Mount Arrowsmith taking place at the MAC (133 McMillan St., Parksville) from Jan. 15-Feb. 24.

The exhibit features images of flowers, birds, landscapes, waterways, trees and forests all from the Mount Arrowsmith area, which Miller said she hopes will strike a connection between the viewer and the environment they live in, either locally or abroad.

On Miller’s website, she calls the connection between people, the land and other living things is the most important thing in the world.

“Because it’s really the most fundamental thing that unites everybody, regardless of who you are and where we live,” said Miller.

“Without our hands in the ground, growing things, without the river, nothing lives.”

Though Miller cites nature as her muse, she said one of her grandparents has had a profound effect on her outlook.

“I was actually influenced by my maternal grandmother who was a wonderful artist, a self-taught artist and a farm-woman, and a very gifted naturalist, so I think a lot of that has had a huge effect on me. I didn’t really realize it until later in life.”

Though Miller said drawing and painting has been something she’s done from a little girl, she said leaving city life and moving to Vancouver Island in 2007 sparked a major change.

“I worked in the media and it was very demanding.

“I lived in an urban setting, and it was very difficult to find that connection with nature,” she said. “You can always find it no matter where you live and how you live, but it was difficult from a creative point of view.”

“Living in an urban environment and yearning for a deeper connection with nature and being more involved in the processes of life, like growing food, being involved in more sustainable living, it’s harder to do… living in a concrete environment,” she said.

“So moving to Vancouver Island was a huge leap forward in achieving our family’s goal.”

The next major step was moving from Nanaimo to Errington and establishing Skywater Farm.

Not only did that provide Miller with the immersion in nature she was looking for, it also inspired her to do more painting.

Becoming part of the agricultural community and tradition in the area, as well as the creative community, was another factor in Miller’s work.

“When I began taking watercolour instruction in 2014, the mentorship I recieved and the wonderful family of artists that developed were a big part of the great burst of creative growth that I experienced in the following years,” she said.

“Both were significant factors in my leaving my career in media to create art full-time.”

Of her upcoming exhibit, she said it tells various stories, from the various points of the Englishman River up on the mountain to the sea, to growth and gardening, to the forest “and how none of this would be possible if we didn’t have this rainforest around us.

“I’m hoping that, when people come to the exhibition, they will feel something that has personal significance to them, and I hope they will be fired up to go and explore.”

Miller noted that having the exhibit at the MAC will be particularly ideal for this exhibit, as one of the four walls of the exhibit will have a view of Mount Arrowsmith, at least on a clear day.

The exhibit runs Jan. 15-Feb. 24.

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