Rita Kirkman, PSA, CPS, IAPS/EP
Rita Kirkman was born an artist. She has been using pastel since she was 11 years old and had her first paid portrait commission at 17. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1988. Meanwhile, in 1986 she began a 12 year career sketching quick portraits at amusement parks, and in 1988 she began a business drawing detailed pencil portraits from client photos.
Since 2003, Kirkman has improved her own style and technique with pastel through independent study and workshops with renowned artists each year. This effort has been consistently rewarded with major awards in national and international competitions. Her work has been featured in the Pastel Journal and the Pratique des Arts Spécial Pastel, and published in many others. She is a Signature member of the Pastel Society of America and an Eminent Pastelist with the International Association of Pastel Societies. Her portraits and paintings are in private collections all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan, Africa and Australia.
In 2011, Kirkman took a workshop with internationally known daily painter Carol Marine, and for the first time in 23 years began to improve her skills with oils. Also striving to become a Daily Painter herself, this has led to her participation in the Daily Paintworks site, more frequent postings on her daily painting blog, and the publishing of two books of 100 miniature pastel animal portraits, "Cows, Etc.", Volume 1 and Volume 2.
Her latest venture, in 2020, has been to create a Patroen Page, where she shares behind-the-scenes video clips and exclusive content from the studio, along with demo videos from her Virtual Open Studio Days and various other art tips from her 40+ years as an artist.
"One night in a dream a floating egg cracked open and out came a beautiful pair of eyes. That next morning the eyes were born on wood with acrylic paints." Kristi Standley
Austin based artist Kristi Standley is known for her paintings of people, in particular women. As featured artist at the gallery for February, we will be hosting an opening reception of her show "A Fresh Look" this Saturday, February 8, from 4-7pm.
READ ABOUT THE ARTIST
Kristi was born near Houston and moved to Austin at the age of 6. A self-taught artist, Kristi began creating at a very young age; tucked away in her baby book is a recognizable drawing of a happy hippo that she drew at age 3. She became a prolific drawer filling journals and drawing pads with various characters in whimsical scenes. However, she stayed away from color. “I was always afraid of color, I thought I would ruin my carefully rendered drawings with it.”
As she grew older Kristi was determined to go further with her art, so she taught herself how to paint. She sat on her hardwood floors and poured over piles of art books. Never reading them really, just studying the pictures. She practiced painting them, trying to copy the line, shape and shadow of the much more accomplished artists on the pages. One night in a dream a floating egg cracked open and out came a beautiful pair of eyes. That next morning the eyes were born on wood with acrylic paints.
Years later Kristi took an oil painting class. Oils are now her preferred medium and after all these years she still uses wood as the substrate. Kristi spends a few minutes sketching an idea then uses a camera to capture it with a live person. “I add elements to the paintings to create the visions I have in my head, embellishing the paintings with representational imagery to create an idea or concept.
Now in 2020 the new decade has brought Kristi to exploring those eyes again in her new studio in her home’s master bedroom. "So this year I’m exploring both my history and my present life to create art. It’s an exciting time for me!"
KRISTI TALKS ABOUT HER ART
My life has centered around art for many years. In the beginning there were countless hours of observing and drawing and creating in any way possible. I started to teach myself how to paint about 20 years ago then took an oil painting class in 2009. When I paint, I prefer birch wood over canvas as my substrate. I also leave the wood grain as the background, making each piece quite striking. It also leads the viewer to focus right into the eyes of my subjects. My figurative oil paintings are evocative and bold. The colors are bright, and the textures of the wood grain all make for a beautiful edition to any one’s life. I paint from my home studio, always creating. It’s best to keep a close eye on me, you never know what I’ll come up with next.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOU LIFE BEFORE YOU BECAME AN ARTIST.
When was that??!! Lol. I can't remember a time I wasn't tinkering with this medium or that one. I have always been an artist and I always will be.
DID YOU DO ART OR ARTSY THINGS WHILE GROWING UP?
Yes, I made finger puppets with construction paper, I drew comical figures in my notebooks or on random pieces of paper lying around the house and many other projects. I was always busy creating.
WHEN DID YOU START MAKING ART AND HOW OR WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DO THIS?
I never made a conscious decision to be an artist. It just organically morphed and became a huge part of my life.
WHO WAS YOUR FIRST MENTOR OR PERSON OF INSPIRATION?
Any and all of the children's book illustrators in my closet. I sat on the floor and copied their characters until I could create and draw my own.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE ARTIST?
This is going to sound weird because it's an illustrator and not a fine artist but its Mary Engelbriet. It's hard to not smile when you see her beautiful drawings.
WHERE HAVE YOU STUDIED OR LEARNED TO DO WHAT YOU DO?
On the floor in my childhood closet. Later, on my hardwood floors of my own home. Basically I am self taught. I took a figure drawing class in college at Texas State. And years later an oil painting class at Austin Community College.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION? HOW TO YOU DECIDE WHAT TO PAINT? TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT HOW YOU APPROACH A PAINTING AND YOUR PROCESS TO WORK THROUGH IT.
Faces, of course, inspire me. A person's face captures me and then I get to know the personality behind the face and go from there. Wild or subdued colors bring forth a mood and then "voila!" I have a finished piece.
TELL US ANY OTHER DETAILS ABOUT YOURSELF OR YOUR ART THAT HAVE MADE YOU THE ARTIST YOU ARE TODAY.
I started painting eyes in early 2000, I believe. I painted model's eyes from fashion magazines. Then a gallery owner suggested I paint 'real' people's eyes. So I did, for awhile. Then i moved to faces and now, for this show, I decided to paint eyes again! I love eyes... they are truly "windows to the soul"
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING A PROFESSIONAL ARTIST?
Being able to communicate to the viewer through pictures that I created is a powerful thing.