Brand new work by Qualicum Beach artist Birgit Coath is on display at The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply, where she’s showing a series of her first floral work, along with a few paintings with human subjects. — Adam Kveton Photo

Qualicum Beach artist returns with her first florals

Birgit Coath showing new work at Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply

A Qualicum Beach artist is showing work again after a hiatus from painting, and has a new focus with her first floral series.

Birgit Coath, a Signature artist with the Federation of Canadian Artists, is exploring new territory for her work, having told herself for years that she’d never do floral art.

“I’m not a flowery person,” she said with a laugh. “I’m a tomboy.”

Though her work had focused on people, architectural details and some landscapes, she said a challenge from her teacher and coach Donna Zhang had her discovering that perhaps she’d been wrong about petaled plants.

“She was teaching us colour mixing, and she (Zhang) assigned me a floral and I put it on my drafting board… and I started seeing the patterns and the uniqueness in there. I thought, this is really something…. I love architecture, (and) they have a structure and depth… I thought, I like this.”

Back at painting for about a year, Coath has certainly taken that new interest to heart with her floral series done in oil now showing at The Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply (206 First Ave. West, Qualicum Beach), as well as the colour-mixing, with Coath using a variety of colours for her cool, purple colour pallet.

Coath’s style is to strive for technical excellence as well as careful distribution of dark and light. Composition is very important, she said, as she tries to take a small but beautiful aspect of something and fill her paintings with it.

What results are paintings with a kind of fantasy feel, as if a pixie or a dragon may be lurking just outside the frame. Coath said her early work did, in fact, sometimes feature such fantastical creatures. But the essence of her artistic work is to accurately express what she sees in her mind, she said.

A creative person from the start, Coath spent years doing drafting and garden design before getting into art. She said an injury made her business work difficult, but kicked her creativity into overdrive.

“About 10 years ago I had a traumatic brain injury and I found I couldn’t do arithmetic,” she said. “I could not do the linear thinking, but I found my creative side seemed to take over from that. It filled in the spaces.”

She got into painting after taking classes with an artist who had lost her teeange son.

“She became very expressive in her artwork… and she started sharing that with others, and rather than learning how to do technical work, we learned to do just really expressive work, like expressing whatever’s inside,” said Coath.

Coath said she still has that first painting she did, and still finds it valid, but said her efforts since then have been to develop her technical skills so that she can create what she sees in her mind.

“A lot of people can see things differently and they want to express it, but to execute is quite another (thing), and that’s where the actual technical stuff has to enter,” she said.

For more info about Coath, go to www.birgitcoath.com.

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