Featured Artist — Kathy Gibbs

Kathy Gibbs’ Artist Statement

I need to begin by saying that I’m flattered to be asked to be the featured artist in this issue of the Whitewater Arts Alliance newsletter. My life is filled with the pursuit of interests and roles beyond anything I imagined before I retired 12 years ago. Dabbling in art is just one of them. The feeling I get when I’m engaged in creative endeavors (whether on a canvas, in the kitchen or in the garden) is what I’m hooked on.

There’s no one particular medium that I enjoy working in, although I favor the understated richness of pastels, the unpredictability and dynamics of alcohol inks, the challenges of painting with watercolors, and I find myself intrigued by the idea of working in mixed media. Creating art through the lens of a camera has also been a long time interest of mine. Perhaps I’ve enjoyed the process of discovery with alcohol inks more than anything else, but from the time I was introduced to this new medium about five years ago, my paintings have always included black Micron pen and/or metallic pen detail. Instead of using Zentangle patterns or designs which was my original intent, I developed a technique of defining and enhancing the contours, ridges and textures of my alcohol ink underpaintings with various types of pens. The process can’t be rushed and is very therapeutic.

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Since a young age, I’ve always felt that I had a talent for drawing… and that’s a wonderful thing. My mother and grandfather were influences in my very early years. Looking back, 40 plus years, my ability to draw was fundamental to my decision to pursue a degree in art education. The idea that I could make a living doing something that I really loved was attractive, but that involved teaching, and graduating in December 1975 was not the perfect time to land a job. I had two children, my first husband and I were building a house and I needed to be fully employed, so off I went to find a job on the UW-Whitewater campus, my alma mater. During a couple of those years, when my children decided to join the local area 4H club, I became the art leader and enjoyed helping small groups of kids create some rather unique pieces of art, some of which we would now call mixed media.

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After 1975, one thing led to another…a clerical job at UW-Whitewater, a divorce, a remarriage, a move from Whitewater to Janesville, a master’s degree, and then I was fortunate to secure a marketing/management position in the Office of Continuing Education at UW-W. This job offered me many creative opportunities to hone my writing skills, and among other things, to assist in the graphic design of posters, brochures, a tabloid newspaper, covers for summer session timetables, etc. While I wasn’t creating masterpieces, I was using some of what I learned in my undergrad classes to fulfill my responsibilities. Once retirement approached, I had a desire

to renew and pursue my artistic interests, so I began to enroll in occasional art workshops on weekends. Over time, I immersed myself in a variety of art forms, from felting to photography, batik to pastels, then watercolor classes and more recently alcohol ink, all of which I love, none of which I’ve mastered.

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About five years ago, I joined four other women in an informal setting to “do art” on a weekly basis. All of us continue to take art classes independent of each other, and bring back what we learn to the group. We also enter our artwork in various art shows, and we have had group exhibits in a few local and area settings.

After entering one of the annual Achen Photography Competitions and winning the Viewer’s Choice award that year, I decided to become a member of the Whitewater Arts Alliance. Since then, I’ve helped to hang shows at the Cultural Arts Center (CAC) and recently became a part of a committee that put on the first “Making Magic With Mixed Media” show at the CAC in August. I have such respect for those artists who actually practice their craft in a disciplined way and produce and sell their art on a regular basis. I don’t happen to be one of them, and that’s okay. My hope is to keep learning and to continue making art in the supportive environment of my art club friends in Janesville and in the Whitewater Arts Alliance.