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Three Peace River Artist

Chickadee, Kimberly Boychuk

Kimberly Boychuk

Wildlife and landscape painter Kimberly Boychuk has made it her life’s work to capture moments in time. She views her function as an artist as encouraging others to stop and appreciate the beauty around them. She points out that taking time to appreciate natural beauty, both in nature itself and through art, is one of life’s few pleasures.

“Something in me drives me to do something exquisitely beautiful. Every piece I do, I try to achieve that,” Boychuk explains. To Boychuk, beauty is obviously truth, and truth is beauty, much as it was to the poet Keats.

Having left Peace River to go to school in Idaho and to study at workshops with luminaries such as Robert Bateman, Boychuk has found herself more inspired by the natural beauty of her home in the Peace River valley. Her own appreciation for its rich natural beauty has increased as she regularly walks the local hills. She has begun to find herself on a quest to capture the distinctive light of the north. The long hours of sunshine and twilight at different times of year have caught her attention through the transient play of light on clouds, water and even snow.

Now, she finds, “Snow isn’t white in my mind. It’s pink, it’s blue, it’s peach, it’s purple.” She challenges herself to capture these vibrant colours in her own work, but without allowing her pieces to become a gaudy mess of colour. Instead, she wants people to become enchanted with the beauty of a piece without consciously realizing why.
“The light is the main thing I’m pursuing,” says Boychuk. “Before I would do a pond, and the subject would be the pond. Now it’s the lighting on the pond, and the pond. To make dynamic compositions with light, and realism – that is where I find peace and joy.”

Wolfboy, Stephen Kos

Stephen Kos

Stephen Kos also paints to show people beauty in places they usually ignore, but for him, beauty can be found in a salt stain on a bus floor. “There are universes there – uni- verses of intricate designs and depths,” he says.
Kos describes himself as “a bit of a surrealist,” a painter who uses familiar elements in unfamiliar and even fantastical ways. While there is humour in his paintings, it tends to be a black humour, a smile that shows sharp teeth. “I’m more interested in painting monsters than I am people or flowers,” he explains.

Although Kos is currently working on a series of children’s books featuring bright, colourful characters, the artist also taught art in Hong Kong for many years, and while there he held a solo show titled Fields and Monsters. It included a mini-monster series of paintings, with monsters of all types from cute to grotesque to threatening. His larger paintings on canvas tackled still more bogeyman, but took on subjects like evil and death.

Kos is a painter who brings the entire rich tapestry of child- hood imaginings to life. He understands the sense of joy and wonder we have as children goes hand-in-hand with a darker landscape, populated with fears and imagined dangers that still resonate with adults.

Runners, Lara Felsing

Lara Felsing

Painter and fashion designer Lara Felsing found herself be- coming more of a Peace River artist while living and working in another province. After growing up in Peace River, Felsing moved to Vancouver, where she received a Fashion Design Diploma at the Helen Lefeaux School of Fashion Design and a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Emily Carr Institute.

“The irony is that when I lived in Vancouver, a lot of my paint- ing series were themed after rural Alberta,” Felsing says. Her subjects became a birdhouse, or a bus in a snowbank. “I became enthralled with the colour of the Alberta sky, the co- lours of poplar trees. Imagery so obvious became foreign.”

Even her clothing designs expressed the same symbols for home. “At my last show in Vancouver, the theme was birds and buildings. I used stitching to represent railway tracks, and embroidery to represent flights of birds.”
Felsing has returned to painting and drawing as she’s re- turned to Peace River. Despite the fact she acknowledges drawing is almost a non-validated art form these days, for Felsing drawing will always be her first love. She finds draw- ing and painting more freeing than fashion design, since pattern drawing is a type of architecture of the body that can become almost mathematical.

Felsing says her recent work is a tribute to the simplicity of the every day, an attempt to capture “how little kids see things,” and then give that importance by placing it in an oil painting. Now that she is a parent, Felsing’s paintings have become permeated with nostalgia for a childlike sense of wonder, allowing a re-experiencing of childhood as an adult.

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