Artist Kimbie Noble Shares Her Love of Nature and the Mountain West Through Paintings
A deep-blue sky, vast snow-capped mountains and endless vistas inspire canvases that vibrate with life and joy
In a bright, well-organized studio with finished paintings hanging on the walls and on specially designed wooden rails, Kimbie Noble works with a palette knife, applying thick paint to a painting in progress. While she works, she dances to music from the 1980s or earlier. Van Morrison today. Maybe Sinatra or Ray Charles tomorrow. Paint literally flies off her palette knife as she, in coveralls, dances across the floor. “I am well organized,” she says with a smile, reaching for another palette knife without even looking, “but not very neat.” There is exuberance in her movements and a certain lightness.
Noble majored in art, but, understanding the practicalities of making a living, she founded a tech business (in Houston) along with her husband, a gifted photographer. They sold the company and moved to Bozeman, Montana, after the devastating loss of a child. “We needed to find somewhere to hope and dream again and try to remember what had once brought us joy,” she explains.
In Bozeman, she found solace in nature and a welcoming community. “Painting … and the mountains saved me,” she says. “On tough days, I paint colorful flowers and eat lots of Cheetos.”
Noble, who recently returned from Paris, where she studied live figure drawing at Studio Escalier while her husband attended Spéos international photography school, works with acrylic on wood panels topped with 1⁄4-inch-thick birch (desirable because it is both fine- grained and strong). Before she starts painting, she writes a word on the wood that symbolizes the intention of the painting. “The word can be love, serenity, peace, happiness, whatever I’m feeling,” she says. Then she starts to paint over it so the word—always a positive affirmation— will remain secret under thick layers of paint, an impasto so textured that it almost wants the viewer to reach out and touch it.
Noble’s paintings are inspired by her love of the outdoors and the solace she has found in the Mountain West. “I am in awe of the ever-changing beauty of nature,” she says. “Even if I go to the same place every day, it is different each time and always inspires awe.” At present, she is working on two distinct series: Diamond Dust and Big Sky.
As Noble explains it, diamond dust is a weather phenomenon that occurs when it is extremely cold, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining. Almost-microscopic ice crystals float in the air, shimmering and glistening. “It looks like the light is dancing, and it is one of the most beautiful and most poetic things I’ve ever seen,” she says. The Big Sky series captures the vastness of the Mountain West and the majestic animals who live there. “It is a place that inspires respect and admiration for the land,” she says, “and a place that brings back hopes and dreams.”
Noble’s works are exhibited at Altitude Gallery in Bozeman and on her website, where you can sign up to get an invitation to her personal art gallery (in a converted barn). “It is not open to the public, but we often have fun barn events to which we invite clients and friends,” she says.