Life experiences

Artist Phyllis Corwin's love of nature, animals, is captured in her work

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Phyllis Corwin is a seasoned painter who resides in Washougal with her husband of almost 50 years, Bill. She has been painting and teaching for more than 20 years.

To view her work, visit the Camas Gallery at 408 N.E. Fourth Ave., or www.artbyfariah.net. Corwin can also be reached at 798-1533.

"I love painting and creating. It's like meditation for me."

-- Phyllis Corwin

Phyllis Corwin is a seasoned painter who resides in Washougal with her husband of almost 50 years, Bill. She has been painting and teaching for more than 20 years.

To view her work, visit the Camas Gallery at 408 N.E. Fourth Ave., or www.artbyfariah.net. Corwin can also be reached at 798-1533.

Competitive belly dancing. Owning 33 snakes. Swimming with wild dolphins. Flying a sail plane.

There is little in life that Washougal resident Phyllis Corwin hasn’t experienced.

Her adventurous spirit once resulted in her and husband Bill living in a house with 33 snakes, two alligators, a raccoon, parrot, several fish and “adopted” dogs and cats.

“They all liked to call our place home,” she joked. “One of the snakes roamed free throughout the house.”

Corwin, 68, is this month’s featured artist at the Camas Gallery, and has had her work there for several years.

She is a lifelong artist but began honing her craft in 1994, when she took a painting class at Art’s Desire in Vancouver with her sister.

“I love painting and creating. It’s like meditation for me.”

— Phyllis Corwin

“I figured if she could do it with two kids, so could I,” Corwin said.

Corwin began with oils, learned the basics and then tackled pastels, acrylics and watercolors.

“I can use all mediums, but I always fall back on oils and pastels,” she said. “I get my inspiration from the outdoors,photos, a magazine or even something I see on T.V.,” she said. “I am also an animal lover and enjoy painting them and focusing on their eyes. I am known for that.”

After a round of layoffs at HP 10 years ago, Corwin began working as an event coordinator for Michael’s, then began teaching at the Aurora Gallery in Vancouver.

Although a shattered ankle and subsequent surgeries have kept her away from an active lifestyle, she has continued with painting and offers semi-private lessons. She also creates wire-wrap and silver jewelry.

“I love painting and creating,” she said. “It is like meditation for me. You get into it and it’s so satisfying.”

Corwin’s favorite subject and many a muse for her paintings are big cats such as cheetahs and leopards.

“I just love the big cats,” she said. “I always have. I almost bought an ocelot but ended up with a Florida king snake instead.”

Corwin’s rose series, which she created in honor of her grandmother, mother and two sisters, is closest to her heart. One of those, a yellow rose, is on display at Camas Gallery, but it is not for sale. It represents her sister Linda, who passed away suddenly from cancer last year.

“It’s part of my signature series,” she said.

Although she doesn’t venture outdoors as much while her ankle heals, Corwin’s home studio is located next to two huge windows, which look out on the 9-acre property she has lived in since 1994.

“I love the hills, the mountains, fast running water and the trees,” she said. “This reminds me of Tennessee, where I grew up. I spent almost 20 years in California and it almost killed me. I would never leave here now.”

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