Sackville’s own Fog Forest Gallery found itself packed with art enthusiasts for the opening reception of Mary Scobie’s exhibit entitled “Close Encounters.” The event, which took place on September 12, features a collection of oil paintings inspired by the Maritimes, as well as by her travels in Europe and Western Canada, offering a perspective that is warmly familiar with a unique twist of creative liberty and personal reflection.
Raised in Sackville, New Brunswick, Scobie acquired her music degree at Mount Allison University before proceeding to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) to explore the visual portion of her artistic talents. Currently, Scobie works as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator in Victoria, British Columbia, an occupation that allows her to combine both her musical and artistic skills into a successful career.
All sixteen of Scobie’s paintings in the gallery are done in oil paint on canvas, a medium that she deliberately switched to after preferring watercolours for many years. With oil paint, Scobie explained, she can “sum up a figure in loose strokes” by using the textural aspects of this medium to her artistic advantage. Scobie often paints figures and people that she knows intimately, such as her family and friends, as well as anonymous passersby that she has observed in her travels. Rather than painting them in a purely realistic light however, Scobie prefers to create impressionistic representations of people and their environments.
“I like doing paintings of people without making them portraits,” she explained. “When I paint I want to capture the essence of a subject.”
Travel is often a fundamental aspect of Scobie’s art, and many of her paintings are direct memoirs of specific places and occasions.
“I love travelling,” said Scobie, as she recounted her experiences in Newfoundland, British Columbia, New York, France, and Spain, glimpses of which can be seen in pieces such as “Red Coat,” “La Journal,” and “La Passeggiata.” “When I travel, I relax and start looking at things in a different light.”
Mt. A students are frequently presented with opportunities to attend a diverse variety of art exhibitions courtesy of students, guest artists, and personal collections of the university and its affiliates. However, Mary Scobie’s exhibit is interesting in the sense that it offers insight into the life of an individual who has successfully embraced both a practical and a personal side to her interest in fine arts.
“There is that balance of practicality and pursuing your passion,” she mused, looking back on her career and education.
“When you’re at university, that’s the time to experiment and try out different things,” she advised, regarding her time at Mt. A and NSCAD as a crucial factor in her current success, continuing, “explore and pursue all the things you’re interested in, because you never know.”
As one who has actively pursued her passions in both music and art and been rewarded handsomely for the time and effort she has invested in her chosen field, Mary Scobie’s life and artistic repertoire serve as a reminder that knowing one’s self is just as important as knowing the job market.