"I'm pretty sure I entered this world holding a crayon. I've always been the daydreaming artsy kid. It was coming to the Kootenays that inspired me to become a full-time artist."
Steph supplies our store with cards made from her beautiful artwork. Specializing in nature, but not short on imagination, Steph's artworks captivate the heart.
Gaia: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Background, where you grew up, just a brief history of YOU...
Steph: I grew up in Penticton, BC, with my mother and sister, our dog, many cats, and my hamsters. My youth was spent swimming, building forts and lego castles, and exploring the sagebrush covered hills with my two cousins. I loved being outside and I loved making things.
I decided to go to art school in Kelowna almost directly out of high school, where I studied video and photography, and then finished my degree in art history at Uvic. Each decision was made from an urge to follow my curiosity, and as such I decided to follow my curiosity and a dream of a romantic winter in the Kootenays to teach myself how to paint. That was the winter of 2009, and I'm still here. The Kootenays have allowed me to live my dream in a way that no other location really could.
Gaia: What prompted your interest in art? Were there any art pieces, or was there a moment of inspiration that compelled you to pursue becoming an artist?
Steph: I'm pretty sure I entered this world holding a crayon. I've always been the daydreaming artsy kid. It was coming to the Kootenays that inspired me to become a full-time artist though. I was in a car accident on my way to the Kootenays, and I sustained some injuries that kept me from returning to my more physical work back in Victoria after the winter ended. Art was something I could do, and also be able to take time to recover. I love what I do, and perhaps I would have become a full-time artist more organically further down the road, but life gave me a kick in the pants to just jump right in, and I'm grateful to it.
Gaia: I noticed in your bio on your website that you take immersive trips into the wilderness to inspire and assist in your artistic process and projects. Do you find yourself re-visiting some of the same places or do you like to explore many different landscapes? What type of environment do you find most conducive to sparking your creativity and why?
Steph: Yes and yes. I LOVE drier landscapes. I'm born of the desert, and I feel a constant pull towards grasslands, deserts, and tundra. I've visited areas of wilderness in the Chilcotin Plateau, the grassy foothills of the Rockies, and the south-western tundra of the Yukon, all more than once. I love these places because of the colours of the grasses, the space between the trees, the hues of water, and the expansive vistas. These areas are also rich in wildlife, and the chances of having encounters with them are high.
I'd love to explore places like Iceland and the south-west of the States, but there are so many thousands of unexplored kilometres in the areas I've already been to that I could happily return to them for years to come.
Gaia: We love the different animals in your pieces. What animal would you consider your “spirit animal” or what is an animal that you connect to deeply and why?
Steph: Hands down it's the fox. They are so curious and playful. They're also able to adapt to different environments, much like coyotes, and can live in pristine landscapes, crumbling urban ones, and all the spaces in between. I feel like I have that kind of adaptive quality. I've also had multiple encounters with red foxes and they delight me to no end.
Gaia: Besides your spirit animal, what is one of the animals you enjoy painting and why?
Steph: I love painting grizzlies. I've had a lot of beautiful experiences with grizzlies, some at arms length. They have such a calm power to them; they are gods in their own right. I think certain animals speak more to certain people than others. I don't feel I have the same connection to black bears even though I've also had many lovely encounters with them. It's definitely influenced by the fact that my partner is a former grizzly biologist, so I have access to his knowledge and first hand experience with them. But it's also something else... it's this thing that I also feel with foxes and lynx, but not with cougars. Some I'm meant to work with, and others I'm not
Gaia: On your site it says you mainly work with acrylic but what other mediums do you like to work with?
Steph: Pen and ink, oil pastel, and collage. I'm also attempting to learn gouache.
Gaia: Do you have any other creative or artistic pursuits that you like to express yourself with (ex, music, dance, textiles) and how does it feel different to you from painting? Does it enable you to express yourself in ways that painting does or does not?
Steph: Every medium allows a different nuance of expression to come through. Different mediums vary your amount of control and often involve different processes. I also work in video, both alone and in collaboration with my partner, Robert Livingood. I find that video allows my storyteller to come through with much more ease. Where my paintings are frozen moments of emotion and time, video is a moving, living entity.
Gaia: Any projects you are planning that you want to share about?
Steph: My partner and I are currently creating an audio/video piece for a local theatre piece scheduled to be performed at the Capitol this March. Of course with all things Covid, we'll see how the timing actually plays out. If people are interested in knowing more, they can sign up for my newsletter on my website, and I will send out more information as the spring approaches.www.stephkellett.com
Gaia: Last but not least!....What would be in your shopping bag at Gaia Rising?
Steph: I love Gaia Rising. What a fabulous community business we have here in Nelson. Let's see, I'd have the staples – white sage, beeswax candles, essential oils, and I also have my eye on one of their beautiful crystal bears.
Valentines Day is coming! Don't hesitate to wear your heart on your sleeve with one of Steph's beautiful cards. Drop by Gaia to pick one out! ;)