behind the scenes
Behind the scenes at the Katherine Muir-Miller Gallery, with artist and owner, Katherine Muir-Miller
A serious accident in 2015 changed forever the course of Katherine Muir-Miller’s life.
A former emergency room nurse, Katherine suffered a serious fall that not only ended her nursing career, but brought about a dramatic shift in her lifestyle. Prior to the accident, she had played hockey, run triathlons and worked out, as well as having raised five children.
“Our children now range from 24 – 30 years old,” she says. ”One works in the intensive care unit in Kingston, one is a paramedic, one is a forester, one is a firemen and one is studying biology with the intent of becoming a doctor.”
Growing up Katherine’s children had an appreciation for the outdoors, enjoying activities such as canoe trips, hockey, hiking and white water canoeing, often taking photographs of their adventures.
While she did a bit of tole painting when the children were younger, it wasn’t until 2010 that Katherine started to paint landscapes and only after her accident that she approached it with any degree of seriousness.
“I discovered that painting was something I could physically do and it was incredibly therapeutic,” as she recalls how it helped her through her “dark and terrible” days of physical therapy, chiropractic care, vision and balance therapy and the rebuilding of her neck muscles.
“The accident slowed me down,” says Katherine “and I guess that energy had to go somewhere. I could have sat around and gone ‘oh woe is me,’ but that’s not my style.”
As painting became an integral part of her recovery, it was Katherine’s use of colour that gave her work its distinctive flavour.
“I love Canadian landscapes. There’s so much colour there and I paint them as I see them. Red rocks? Maybe, I was being daring. I don’t know. It didn’t seem so at the time,” she explains.
” Visually and emotionally, we are surrounded by nature. Canada is breath-taking. It’s my hope to help bring it to life through my use of colour. I’m thrilled when someone recognizes a particular place in one of my paintings.”
To this day Katherine’s passion for colour in nature remains a driving force in her work.
“Landscapes give off colour to me..... It’s fascinating how many colours one can see in a single tree. Every artist sees things differently. You could have 20 different artists paint a particular pine tree and you’d end up with 20 different pine trees,” she says.
Gradually, as her inventory of pieces grew, she began to take them to art shows, eventually deciding that she’d do three years of shows and then reassess where things were at.
With her husband and children working as a support team, the shows went well until the outset of the third year when Covid hit.
“I was going to do 10 shows in 2020, but as it turned out, I did one and the rest were cancelled.”
That July as Katherine was walking through downtown Perth with a friend, she saw a storefront sign that read: “Rent Reduced.”
Her friend suggested she open a gallery.
While it wasn’t something Katherine had ever considered, she wrote down the number and later when her husband offered the same suggestion, she made the call.
Then on November 5, 2020, Katherine opened her gallery in downtown Perth.
While it was, as Katherine termed it, “a giant leap of faith,” she had the full support of her family who pointed out that the cost of the gallery was really no different than the cost of the ten cancelled shows.
“It was meant to be,” recalls Katherine. “It seemed my work had finally found a home.”
While her intention had always been to open a studio, a place where she could paint outside her home, it was only when she saw the sign in Perth that she decided to open a gallery.
“I wanted it to have a wow factor so I paid close attention to the colour and other decor details such as the lighting etc.,” explains Katherine, who continues to paint at home, while using her gallery to feature her own work and that of other emerging local artists.
Today Katherine’s life has come full circle.
What had once been a hobby when her children were young has now become a full-time occupation as she transforms the photographs of their adventures into stunning works of art.