A lot of people hold funny views about painting or drawing, muses Sylvan Lake artist Karen Filthaut. No one would presume to pick up a violin and immediately start playing a concerto. Yet many people believe if they can’t automatically make good art then they should quit because they have no talent.
- But Filthaut knows art, like any skill, needs to be developed through practice. For the past 33 years, Filthaut has put thousands of hours into honing her realistic landscape and wildlife paintings. Her larger ones, of pristine mountains or wolves howling under Northern Lights, can take her 100 hours each to complete.
The native of Maple Creek, SK, feels it’s worth it if she can convey a certain feeling to viewers.
“When I paint, I’m inspired, and I hope that comes through in my work. There is art that challenges you… but I like when my paintings make someone feel good, or remind them of something.”
Filthaut started taking visual art at the University of Calgary after finishing high school. She quit after the first year, disappointed there was no drawing instruction and a bias against realistic painting. “I painted corn-on-the-cob that looked like corn-on-the-cob. I didn’t know what it was supposed to ‘feel’ like to be corn,” she recalls, with a chuckle.
She created art while moving across three western provinces, selling her work in galleries, turning tiny works into jewelry, and painting a mural at a B.C. college. After moving to Sylvan Lake a decade ago, Filthaut joined the Red Deer Arts Council to find an artistic community. She now teaches at Red Deer’s Alberta Art and Drafting, passing her skills on to others who want to learn to draw and paint.