Kaaren Soby wanders around the Smithers Art Gallery, showing off her paintings as if they were her children.
Perhaps in some interpretation of the word they are. She can spend years, on and off again, with a piece before it’s finally finished.
And when people ask her how long it takes her to work on a piece, she’ll sometimes tell you that the answer is “my whole life.”
But the painter/mother/activist doesn’t look at her art through a serious lens. Her work is filled with bright colours, motion and sensuality.
“It’s very fun,” she said of her creative process.
She never starts off with a real plan. She might have a photograph she bases her piece on but it’s never about recreating the photo.
“You trust and sometimes you almost, in a sense, work blind, but you’re not because there’s a deeper intelligence that’s being brought forward.”
Even the paintings with low-key colours eventually develop to have exuberance.
Visiting a gallery in Calgary once she was asked if she always paints in bright colours. She was viewing an exhibit of mainly brown colours, the style at the time.
She was determined to try the brown colours on her painting.
The result, which is part of her exhibit at the art gallery here, eventually developed some bright greens.
It’s just part of her rebellious nature. She said she refuses to get locked into a box, a particular way of doing things.
“That would be very dull for me. No adventure just copying. There’s no fun. It’s got to be fun,” she said.
She also won’t paint to a ‘recipe’ of art that is designed just to sell.
“To me, then, it loses the life,” she said. “There’s got to be a sense of delight and fun and passion in whatever you do.”
Her passsion has turned others off. She said when the Prince George gallery opened years ago a board of people from Vancouver called for art from the area. She submitted hers and it was rejeted. For being “too joyful,” she said.
“Spare me from people who think that way.”
Her canvasses, massive pieces painted with house brushes, are on display at the Smithers Art Gallery along with Susan Clay-Smith’s ceramics.
The show runs to Aug. 27.