Once upon a time there was a lovely lady, born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who grew up and married a rugged man and they had four children under the age of nine and lived in a yurt in the woods.
Sounds like the beginning of a back country fairy tale but it's local artist Corey Hardeman's truth.
The result of living so close to nature is seen at her Groop Gallery art exhibit, Undergrowth, starting with tonight's opening reception. Hardeman's paintings of nature, mostly of trees and birds, are inspired by what's around her and heavily influenced by how her children have shown her how they see nature.
"My oldest son has brought me living, healthy birds cupped in his hands and said 'can you paint him?'" said Hardeman. How could she resist?
"As he's grown, his proclivity for finding things has grown and I've really started to see things in light of his perspective a lot of the time. So when we got a box of chicks a couple of years ago he opened the box and -- there's stuff in there and you just think -- wow! So I ask how does that feel and how does that translate into an image. So everything I look at I now look at it as potential for composition. I'm always thinking visually. It's funny. Last week [husband] Mike and I were driving into town and because I had been painting trees I told him I feel like a lecherous old man, I'm not really paying attention to what you're saying, I told him, because I'm feeling up that tree with my eyes."
Hardeman's husband, Mike, has owned the property they live on now for about 15 years and after being the blacksmith at Barkerville for five years and living in Wells, the family decided to move near Prince George last year. They are building a small house to accommodate their ever-growing family.
The Hardemans have a generator for power and only use it for about two hours a day.
"We had power in Wells but when we moved to the property it was the next step in the roughing-it saga," laughed Hardeman, who said she was nervous about it at first but quickly got used to the simpler way of life. "It's not a hardship and going from house to yurt was not difficult at all. Once you're yurtified it's OK."
They live north of Nukko Lake so it takes them about 45 minutes to drive to downtown Prince George. Hardeman just has to walk out her front door to view all aspects of nature.
"There's a huge cottonwood on the property that's been there forever and it's full of woodpecker holes and this year I decided I was going to paint it and I went and got a canvas and the next morning it was on the ground," said Hardeman. It was like she knew. She's not completed the painting but she's working on it.
Hardeman studied biology in school as her urban planner father was not pleased with the offered scholarship to Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University and wanted something more practical for his child than an art degree, she said.
"It wasn't until I met my husband and he really kind of pushed me to do something with drawing," said Hardeman. "I was really kind of nervous because it's a bit like putting your diary on the wall. Then I really started to think this was something I could overcome and put out there a bit and I've really worked in obscurity for the last decade."
Now, no longer in obscurity, patrons of the arts can enjoy her work at Groop Gallery, 1127 Third Avenue at 7 p.m., artist talk at 7:30. View her artwork, meet the artist, and enjoy some refreshments. The Undergrowth exhibit will run until June 30.