Monday, May 22, 2017

Artists to stalk, Rita Kirkman

Rita Kirkman
"Transience of Innocence"
26 x 19"

OK, I am really going to try this time.  I am going to write in my blog at least once a week. Blogging for me is more like keeping an art diary that I share with the world, and so it includes an occasional cuss word and a large amount of bad jokes and satire. That's your disclaimer, that's all you get.

If I don't have a new piece available to show, or a failed piece available to post for that matter, I will share websites of some of the artists who I stalk, I mean who I follow.  I try to devote at least a bit of time daily studying and stealing ideas.  (Read the book "Steal like an Artist" by Austin Kleon)  Many of my biggest inspirations have been realists who are long dead and who's paintings are now worth millions.  However, I have a long list of still living artists who have taught me simply by posting their works on line or by winning a spot in the Pastel Journal. I have an excel sheet called "Artists to Stalk", and when I get a chance I pick an artist from my list and study their work.  I add to this list constantly.  Don't worry, I don't actually like... you know, show up at their house with binoculars and follow them around town while they shop, as if they are the Beatles and I am some pimply faced teenager hiding my camera.  I just study their work and read their Facebook entries and blogs while allowing their energy to inspire me.

It seems only fitting that I should start with the artist who has encouraged and influenced me the most over the years.  She got her start by stalking me! Rita Kirkman and I met while we were both in our late teens in 1986. We drew portraits from life at Cedar Point.  I was Rita's teacher, and I was amazed how quickly she learned, and I never forgot her ability to literally stalk me while we were at work.  (She might have even had a pair of binoculars and a camera in her back pocket!) If she didn't have a client, she was leaning over my shoulders watching my every move as I drew from life.  In fact, the year before she applied at the park she had her portrait done and took it home and copied it over and over again. This is a practice that I still use today when teaching new students. We sketched an average of 100 faces or more on a Saturday and worked 6 days a week, sketching from life for 8 - 10 hours a day.  I welcomed her attention most of the time, and we became great friends. After work we would wash off the pastel and go out dancing with our fellow artists.  Prince and huge hair were pretty popular that year.

Here is a photo Rita took of me while she was "stalking" me at work.

A few years later Rita was assigned as my assistant manager when I was moved down to Virginia to manage the portrait and caricature operation at Busch Gardens.  This is around the time when she started entering her work into small local shows.  After a few years she moved on to manage her own park in Texas, and soon after became very serious about her fine art career.  I on the other hand made the mistake of devoting every inch of energy that I had to drawing quick sketches for the next several decades, as you may have read in previous blogs.  Once in a while I might do a painting or drawing for pleasure, then stuff it in a portfolio.

Rita and I recovering after a night out with our fellow artists in the mid 1990s,

Rita came for a visit a few years ago.  She asked to see my "studio" Since I didn't have one she asked to see my art, but I really didn't have any that I was willing to show anyone, however she wouldn't let it drop. So, with great reluctance and the courage found in a glass of wine  I took her into the garage. I just started pulling out dusty canvases that I hid behind the furnace and a few bulging portfolios so that she could go through them.  I figured she would say, "Oh, that's nice" then go back in the living room for another glass. I was not so fortunate. Man oh man she gave me hell for hiding my work. After that she helped me get my feet wet and gave me countless tips about working in the art world.  It was also her idea for me to start entering into competitions on line.  I blame it all on her.  Thank you Rita!

Rita Kirkman "Big Mama"
36 x35"

Rita Kirkman "Elfling"
8 x 6"

Rita now is big time.  Her works are constantly published internationally and she sells successfully at shows and exhibits. She shares her knowledge freely with the world through her blogging, Youtube video tutorials and workshops.   We still keep in touch and stalk each other every opportunity we get.

Please add her to your own list of artist's to stalk!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah Em, I'm the original stalker! I wouldn't have been the incredibly talented 5-minute (or 3.75 minute) portrait sketch artist I was if I hadn't had you to stalk I mean to watch and learn from every chance I got!
    Remember when Candy the cashier (was that her name?) had to look at the signatures to tell the Emily sketch from the Rita sketch? ;)
    But seriously, thank you so much for the free advertising I mean the awesome blog post dedicated to ME I mean US! I'm going to SHARE it!!