Westward Gallery is an anchor on Tennyson Street in North Denver and a community hub for art and artists since it opened in 2017.
Michelle Courier, a professional painter like her father, John McCormick, and brother, Kelly McCormick, desired to do something new in the world of art, so she moved to Denver from Michigan with her family in 2016, and now displays much of her work at Westward Gallery. She is considered one of the premiere landscape artists in the country. However, this October a new Courier is on display, Michelle’s daughter, Kelsey Courier.
Kelsey began the long road of becoming an artist in 2012, when she was only 16. The Couriers are a family of artists, and her mother saw her potential from the very beginning.
“I thought she had a natural talent, without much instruction at all,” said Michelle.
Kelsey’s siblings also demonstrated artistic talent that they inherited from their mother and grandfather. However, it was Kelsey who showed genuine interest in pursuing the craft in a professional capacity. She began by painting Marilyn Monroe to learn more about figure drawing and painting.
“I wanted it to be my first challenge. I wanted to keep finding more ways to challenge myself, and that became my house portraits, which really helped me learn what I did and didn’t like about painting,” Kelsey said.
Michelle first learned of Kelsey’s talent when she discovered one of the Marilyn Monroe paintings in her room and was immediately shocked with its high quality. She knew her daughter had real potential and encouraged Kelsey to continue painting and taking workshops with notable artists to help her develop her skills.
“She is 10 years beyond what her level should be,” Michelle said. “I looked back at my old paintings from college to see, and her use of color and light on the side of a house has detail that many artists her age miss.”
On display in the gallery is her portrait of Marilyn Monroe as well as several detailed pieces of famous locations in and around Denver. Kelsey said she had other passions, such as interior design and architecture, but she listened to her family suggestions that she paint, and most importantly, paint what she cares about.
“Once I woke up to the real struggle that a lot of people face, I realized the opportunity that I was born into, and that if I don’t do something with this opportunity, I’d feel like I was missing out on something in life,” Kelsey said. “I’m glad they gave me that push.”
Even with the support of her family, Kelsey admits that the road to become an artist has been long. She became her own worst critic and had to limit the time she spent on each piece or she’d work on it until it was perfect.
“It’s been 10 years of painting and then finally getting to the show, so it makes me question what I’ve been doing for these 10 years,” said Kelsey. “I became a mom in between that and had a really big realization of where to dedicate my time.”
Kelsey’s son, Milo, is now 5 months old and there were many unique challenges that came with painting while pregnant.
“It sounds crazy, because how do you paint with a baby? You don’t, or you paint with a baby in your lap. But I had a realization that my time is now something I have to take a lot more seriously and I can’t be wasting it.”
Kelsey admits that motherhood has been a ‘shock to her system,’ but the wake-up call has been invaluable. Kelsey’s paintings will remain on display at Westward Gallery for the month of October, and despite the trials and tribulations it took to get her first show, she is not discouraged and will continue to pursue her passion in painting.
“It’s the best way I know to express myself, but also have freedom while doing it.”
And someday, far into the future, she hopes that her son may become the fourth generation of artists within the Courier family, “as long as he wants to, of course.”