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Artist Kindrie Grove is passionate about animals and teaching
The walls of the Osoyoos Art Gallery are covered with animals, some nearly life sized, as an exhibition by Penticton artist Kindrie Grove opened on Saturday.
The show, Paper Canvas Bronze, runs to March 15.
Grove’s work features large oil paintings on canvas with bigger African animals such as elephants and lions as well as such Canadian subjects as polar bears and horses.
As the show’s title suggests, she’s not just a painter.
A number of bronze sculptures are also displayed throughout the gallery and she also shows some smaller encaustic works, a process that involves drawing with layers of hot bees wax.
“I love to sculpt,” said Grove. “I’ve only been sculpting for about seven years.”
The sculptures are done in an oil-based clay from which a mould is made. These are then cast into bronze at a Kelowna-based company called Pyramid Bronze Works.
Choosing animals as a subject isn’t surprising considering that Grove grew up near Crossfield, Alberta, where her parents bred and raised Morgan horses.
What is a surprise is that she never made horses the subject of her art when she had them.
“I haven’t had a horse for about seven years, but that’s when I actually started to paint them,” she said. “I was mostly doing wild animals, so it was actually quite interesting to see the transformation of my relationship with horses move to a completely different level once I no longer physically had a horse to interact with.”
Now horses are a common subject of her paintings and sculptures.
“I don’t know if I even realized it until I started to paint them, but they represent the divine for me,” she said.
Grove said she’s now been painting for 25 years, having started when she was just 16.
Even looking back at her early work when she started painting African animals in high school, Grove said zebras especially attracted her and it may be because they are so like horses. She was also drawn to elephants.
Eventually she and her husband, Michael Bezener, travelled to South Africa, Namibia and Botswana in search of subject matter.
Her husband, she said, is a biologist and also a skilled photographer and she used his photos for reference, along with her own sketches and photos, when she returned to the studio.
Grove took up teaching and mentoring other artists, some of whom share the use of her studio space in downtown Penticton.
Her teaching freed her from the need to satisfy galleries and a collector base and served as a catalyst that allowed her to experiment and reinvent her style.
While her earlier work concentrated on the details and surface textures of animals, she switched to using larger brushes and more sweeping strokes to capture the essence of the animals.
“I was focusing on what their hair was like and the finer details of things,” she said of her previous style. “Moving on to more colour and bigger brushes was an attempt to capture motion and movement allowing the essence of the animal to come through rather than the surface detail.”
Over the course of the next year she said she was driven to paint differently and her students got to watch her transformation as well. She painted over top of her older work as she experimented.
“It was a big turbulent year of being driven to paint differently,” she said. “Literally I think everything from that year of experimentation got painted over.”
Grove has found her animal subjects to be popular with some regular collectors, who she says have good sized collections and “are well looked after.”
Some love her horse images even though they aren’t themselves horse people. But she’s also passionate about teaching and even plans to teach a workshop in southern Spain in October.
“It’s all a matter of what you’re good at and what you enjoy,” she said. “Teaching for me is a blessing and it’s exhausting, but I do love it. Right now I’m not teaching as much because I’m working more on my own work at the moment. There’s something about connecting with people and sharing and empowering people to be creative in their own way.”