Tara Smith was born and raised in the Kootenays and like most local children she was introduced to the sport of fishing at a young age. These days she’s busy teaching her own two kids how to fish but occasionally she finds some free time to paint watercolours of, you guessed it, fish. Specifically the species found around the region as well as the tied flies they tend to favour.

We caught up with Tara as part of our monthly series that celebrates and showcases local artists to discover how she got into art and where she draws her inspiration from.

Hi Tara. You’re originally from this area, correct?

Yes. I live in Castlegar and I was born and raised in the Kootenays.

What’s your favourite part about living in the region?

Definitely the geography of the area. I love our mountains and lakes and rivers. It’s just so beautiful. There is never a shortage of things to do here. You can literally go snowboarding and fishing in the same day!

How did you get started in fine art?

I started watercolour painting when Covid first hit in 2020 and we were all on lock down. I was looking for something to do that I could also involve my kids in so I ordered some watercolour paints online and started playing around painting landscapes from the hikes I did.

Tara Smith (seen here) has had her work printed onto cans of Tailout Brewing beer.

What draws you to painting fishing flies and fish?

It started with a request from my husband to paint a rainbow trout. The next request was an elk hair caddis fly. Once I realized how much I enjoyed painting fish, I painted more and more, focusing on local species. Painting flies is actually my favourite because of all the intricate detail. Plus it’s pretty relaxing! I never really appreciated what an art form tying flies is until I started painting them. And the nice thing is there’s never a shortage of fly inspiration out there.


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A post shared by Tara Smith (@t.smith.art)

Are you an angler yourself and do you tie your own flies?

I have been fishing since I was a kid. I love it! We are so fortunate to have so many options and areas to fish around us in the Kootenays. As for tying flies, I leave that to my husband. He’s an expert. I am much better at painting flies than tying them.

What do you do when you’re not painting?

Painting is my favourite hobby for sure, but it can be hard to find the time for it with two young kiddos. We like to do a lot of outdoor activities, lots of fishing, hiking, camping…all that good stuff. Our kids are fantastic little anglers already!

What’s your advice to kids wanting to get into fine art painting?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and get messy! Art is all about having fun, creating something you’re proud of. And nature is fantastic inspiration to work from.

Where can we learn more about your work?

My work is available for viewing on my instagram page at @t.smith.art and there are also some of my paintings available for viewing and purchase at Tailout Brewing in Castlegar.