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Artist Spotlight: Corey Moortgat

artist spotlight corey Jul 29, 2021

This is Corey Moortgat, a Bold School student turned mentor turned instructor. But this isn't all there is to Corey. 

You're about to fall in love with her incredibly expressive work. Corey has classes available her at Bold School. Keep that in mind and check them out when you're done. 


As well as a Bold School artist, Corey is a wife, a mom... and if you've ever read any of her Facebook correspondence, you already know she is the kindest, most encouraging of souls. Also, as you will see below, she is a published author! It is so intriguing to learn more about our Bold School artists. With great pleasure, please allow me to introduce, Corey Moortgat!

Q: What is your name? 

A: Corey Moortgat


Q:  What kind of art medium and subject matter are you focused in right now? Have you studied other kinds of art? 

A: I’ve been a creative person my whole life and have dabbled in many different mediums. Before delving deeply into painting, I did mixed media and altered books. But now I’m focused almost exclusively on acrylic painting, and portraits are my subject of choice.


Q: Why did you become an artist?

A: I don’t think I ever ‘became’ an artist, I’ve just always been one!


 Q: Tell us about the moment you decided to make art a part of your life. (Whether just for fun or professionally)

A: A defining moment for me actually came about by chance. When I began high school, the school counselor asked which elective I’d like. I told her Home Economics because my friend would be in the class. The counselor encouraged me to choose something else since, as she put it, “Home Ec attracts a lot of kids who just like to goof off.” Lol.  So I looked through the other options until I saw Art.  I’d always enjoyed art as a kid, so thought why not? 

 It turns out that was a serendipitous choice. As I said, I’d always loved art, but I don’t know that I recognized I was actually good at it until going into the art program in high school. My art teacher really took me under her wing and encouraged me, thus leading to my majoring in art in college and pursuing artistic careers beyond that!


Q: Tell us about your art education. Did you study art at school? A self-learner? A life-long learner? Do you learn online? 

A: I’ve been a life-long learner in a variety of artistic endeavors. Formally, I majored in Fine Arts in college, then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy in graduate school. I’ve always been influenced by artists I saw online, or before the internet was really a thing, in books and magazines. But Charla’s class was the first class I took online, I believe!

 Q: Tell us about the space you create in. Is it a dedicated studio? A place in home? Feel free to include a story about a past space or a future dream. 

A: I’m lucky enough to have a room in our house that serves as my studio. However, I’m a big collector (one thing I collect is antique dollhouses, and they take up a lot of space!!), so that room is also my collections room, as well housing my computer desk, so it’s a pretty cramped and crowded room that is slowly being taken over by my many, many paintings!

 We have a separate garage on our property that has an office attached to it. When my husband worked from home, he used it as his office, but he’s since gotten another job, so it sits unused. I hope to move out there and convert it to a painting studio soon. It’s still full of my husband’s things, though, so I’m waiting on him to be able to make the move!

This is Corey's fantastical studio. Looks like there are many things to explore in this inspiring space! 

Q: As an artist, describe yourself in one word.

A: Intuitive


Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment as an artist?

A: I’ve had lots of small accomplishments, but I’m still waiting on the BIG ONE lol!  Although, I’m proud of the fact that I wrote and published an art book about 15 years ago. It’s focused more on mixed media than painting, but a lot of my techniques and motivations do transfer between the two mediums. (The book is called ‘The Art of Personal Imagery’ if you’re interested!)


Corey's Book. 

Q: What has been your biggest fail as an artist?

A:  I feel like I’m still waiting for my big break, and then the sales will start rolling in, haha!

Q: Do you have a creative tool that you can’t live without? Tell us what it is and why you love it. 

A: Honestly, I’m pretty simple. Give me my paint, my brushes, and a canvas, and that’s all I need. However, when doing commissions (where likeness is important), I rely on transfer paper to get those outlines perfect!! 

Q: Do habits help or hinder creativity? Or do you work only when inspiration hits? 

A: I know a lot of people insist that you paint (draw/sketch/etc.) every day as a general practice in order to inspire creativity. And I’m sure it is an amazing tool, but I’m just not built that way. I’ve never been one to just sit and sketch, or to practice techniques in a sketchbook, etc.  I could never write rough drafts in school. I’m very much a perfectionist, so when I do something creative, I go full-force on the final piece right from the start.  And I guess I view art-making to be as much about the process as the final product, so I really can only work when feeling inspired and when I can devote some time to something.

Q: What has been your biggest struggle as an artist in your art and/or your life?

A: It took me many years to really understand how to allow my own voice to come through in my art. I value my artistic education, but most of the training I received during my school and college years was focused on realism techniques vs emotion and meaning. I was a great technical artist, but had no clue what inspired me or how to infuse my art with meaning.  It’s just not something I’d ever thought about or even really understood.

 It wasn’t until I went to graduate school and studied Art Therapy that I really began understanding how emotional and meaningful art can be. While in that program, I began the slow process of trying to figure out what my own voice was and how I could let it speak through my artwork.

 I’m a very practical, sensible person, and as I mentioned earlier, a perfectionist, so it was difficult to really let go and allow myself that freedom.  But over time, it’s gotten easier and easier, and that voice has gotten louder and louder. These days, it’s difficult for me NOT to allow it out when I work!


Q: What advice would you give an artist who is picking up a paint brush for the first time? 

A: Paint what you see, not what you think you see.

Q: How do you know when an artwork is complete? 

A: I guess it’s just when I can look at it and not find anything I don’t like about it!

Q: Can you tell us the story or process behind one piece of art? Can be big or small art, short or long story. 

A: This is a painful story, but actually quite timely for where I am right now with my art.  A lot of my work these days is self-portraiture of sorts. I paint a lot of sad women, because there are things in my life that are very sad right now. I have a teenage son who suffers from mental illness, and we are in the thick of some very tough things these days. Recently, I decided that instead of painting a woman, I’d try painting a young man, to explore some emotions from son’s point of view in a sense. The painting came out beautifully, and I felt as though I’d been able to tap into some of that while I worked. My son saw it, and in very general terms, I mentioned that I’d been trying to connect with him and his life by painting it. Later that night, things got bad for him while I wasn’t home. When I returned, all my paints were strewn about my studio floor and the painting had been ruined, a hole punched through it. It hurt, I’m not going to lie, because it was such a personal attack on something I’d done in attempts to connect with him.  But looking back on it, this piece in its entirety is such a perfect illustration of the horrors of mental illness. He and I have a beautiful and close, yet at times painful and complicated, relationship, and that piece of art is tangible proof of that dichotomy in the end.

Q: Tell us 3 artists that inspire you right now? (Can be any medium or format, ex. A musician or writer)

A: Elly Smallwood, Ryan Hewitt, Solomon Omogboye.  There are so many more, but you asked for three!

Q: How do people connect with you, personally, through social media? 

A: My website is my name:  I’m brushstrokesbycoreymoortgat on Instagram, and Corey Moortgat on Facebook.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you, your art, or life in general?

A: I feel gifted and blessed every day to have a creative mind. I view life through an artistic lens and can’t imagine living any other way. Everything in my life is informed by color and creativity, and conversely, my artwork is informed by everything in my life. It’s all intertwined, and though sometimes messy, it’s a beautiful way to live. I truly hope I’m able to pass some of that beauty to others along the way.

Corey's beautiful family! These are the faces that love Corey even more than we do at Bold School.   

Inspired to learn how to paint like Corey?

Visit her Expressive Portrait Series here at Bold School!


Creativity awaits!


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