Kathleen Secrest’s oil paintings and pastel drawings are all about nature.
On her website, she explains, “I paint to see more closely, and I hope my observations will help others to see and value the beauty of the natural world.”
She captures simple natural images and transforms them into breathtaking moments of serenity, allowing a viewer the fleeting knowledge that a marsh, a creek, a rolling landscape or a nest can still the constant chatter and remind us that the world is filled with beauty.
“I paint the natural world to celebrate it,” Secrest said. “I sometimes paint the big beautiful vistas, sunrise and sunset. But just as often I focus on the small bits of nature – the twigs that make up a nest, rocks, bones, feathers, all remarkable in their own way.”
Her more focused studies appear almost abstract; leaves and feathers become dozens of slightly curved delicate lines and a nest becomes a deep swirling circle.
Secrest grew up in the Midwest and graduated from the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio, with a bachelor’s degree in art education. She met her husband of 35 years, Mark Forman, at a public library in Toledo.
Though she earned a degree in teaching, she never really taught because of lack of funding and available positions. Instead, she worked in graphic design for 30 years. She served as art director for the University of New Hampshire and as a graphic designer for New Hampshire Public Television. She and Forman created videos for private schools and colleges for student recruitment and fundraising. They produced two children’s videos – “Kristin’s Fairy House” and “Sheep Crossing” – to connect kids with nature, both of which were put on the National Library Association top 10 children’s video list.
In 1997, they moved to Spokane to be close to Forman’s family. She worked as a graphic designer for the Robideaux Advertising Agency. Currently, she works with her husband at Forman & Co. producing videos for schools and nonprofit clients. She is also involved with Project Beauty Share, a nonprofit organization that distributes cosmetics and beauty supplies to women in need.
All the while, Secrest creates. She is a member of the Northwest Pastel Society and Women Painters of Washington. She has exhibited in many juried shows and has traveled with groups of plein air artists to Hood River, Ore., and Whidbey Island and Cle Elum, Wash.
Secrest will be exhibiting her newest works at the Chase Gallery at City Hall alongside artists Ellen Picken, Jessie Lee Rasche, Bobbie Halperin and Betty Hageman. The show opens Tuesday and runs through June.
“You know the old question about the tree in the woods and whether it makes a sound if there is no one to hear it fall? In a sense I paint so there’s someone listening,” Secrest said.