January Focus Artist at Red Chair Gallery Kim McClain

For Kim McClain, art has always been therapeutic and healing. Perhaps this is not surprising for someone who had a long career in nursing, massage therapy and healing touch energy work before becoming an artist. Growing up in Bend, the eldest of seven, McClain only became seriously interested in painting after nursing her son back to health from a serious injury about a decade ago. She took a watercolor course in Italy with Cindy Briggs which “helped open me up” and began painting in earnest, she says. More art classes followed locally and later in Bulgaria, through a friend. Studying there in the summertime, she was mesmerized by the colorful fields of sunflowers and poppies, which she painted. Flowers became one of her favorite subjects as a result. Artist Stella Canfield became her mentor along the way.

Color is rampant in McClain’s work, which is a vivid mix of watercolor, acrylic, collage and textural elements. Besides flowers, other themes include portraits of women with large soulful eyes. Symbols, such as hearts, are important to McClain and her paintings of angels evoke Russian icons, a reflection of her interest in sacred art. She has just produced a 2019 calendar of birds, which she created partly from observations in nature and partly from her imagination.

McClain says she focuses on “creating with intention and mindfulness,” the result of taking a class on intentional creativity, which involves “active meditation and being in the moment.” Her objective comes through clearly, she hopes, citing comments from viewers who call her work “heartfelt, soulful and feeling.” An avid reader, McClain often includes quotations in her work. “It’s a meditation for me, it’s like putting the color and painting into words, it goes to a deeper place that you respond from,” she explains. Her work is on the walls of Blissful Heart Wellness Center in Bend, which offers classes in yoga, meditation and stress reduction. Several paintings of hearts are displayed there “which complement our theme of spiritual wellness and of course, our name: Blissful Heart,” says Tanya Hackett, Operations Manager.

Although McClain started painting as a hobby and never expected to be shown in a gallery, she has been an artist member of the Red Chair Gallery in downtown Bend since it opened nearly nine years ago. She has also exhibited as the Sunriver Art Fair and Sage Springs Club & Spa in Sunriver. This coming summer she will travel to Ireland to take classes with Ivy Newport, a Lake Oswego artist, and to be inspired by the lush Irish landscape.

Kim McClain may be contacted at kmcclain@bendbroadband.com

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