Mary Forbes

Even before winning a crayon contest when I was five years old, I just knew I would be an artist.

Mary was born February 11, 1948 on an 85,000 acre cattle ranch in Montana. She started art studies at the Nelson School of Art, after becoming a Canadian in 1965. She then went on to the San Francisco Art Institute, returning to the Victoria College of Art where she continued her art studies as an oil painter with Jack Wilkinson, an established English painter.

After working in a myriad of mediums, I started to learn about watercolour, simultaneously beginning my life on Thetis Island … everywhere I looked I saw another watercolour painting begging to emerge. I was thrilled to find that watercolour painting captured the light, the passion and the lushness of a Gulf Island on the Wild West Coast of Canada.

It was almost as if I had painted everything I wanted to as a watercolourist, and in 2011, I stumbled on a new medium. Leaving behind crayons, ink, charcoal, oils, and watercolour painting, I experienced a renewed enthusiasm; bringing all the elements of my previous experiences to a new canvas, a new medium … hand dyed wool. I began creating needle felted works of art that felt to me to be imbued with all the passion and spirit of my watercolour painting. I call them my ‘Felt Experience’ Paintings. After many shows as a watercolourist I had my first show as a Fibre Artist at the Chemainus Theatre Art Gallery, in Chemainus, BC.

Recently Mary found a fellow islander that uses local Thetis Island spalted wood to make shadow box frames for her pieces. Chad Kerr is passionate about wood, has an artistic eye and a carpenter’s skill that is just the perfect match for her felted paintings.

I am continually inspired by nature here on the coast, and also consider Emily Carr and Van Gogh as artists who influence me every day.