You wouldn’t think it would be necessary to say this, but it is:
Not everyone likes doing the same things.
And if you don’t — when you don’t — fit into the paradigm that society or its establishments determines as the norm, you either have to be very determined (“difficult,” some people say) or go in a direction you don’t like. Artist Marlene Kingman opted to do the former.
“As early as elementary school, I realized that art and creativity were my preferred classes,” the Richland, WA, pastel and oil painter says.
“I tolerated math and science, but what I really focused on were the classes in art and music.”
In a world where science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) stand on pedestals, Kingman’s statement verges on blasphemous, but throughout her life, she has remained committed to the world of art. It started with those elementary and later high school classes, when, along the way, an exceptional art teacher allowed her access to the studio while other children were at recess. Later, she studied Fine Art in college, but life being what it is, changed her major to Commercial Design and then Architecture, resulting in a career that was “totally contrary to artwork,” as she describes it. It took an extra dose of determination to keep her skills in art not just alive, but thriving.
Determined to Create Art
“Throughout my architectural career, I continued to work in pastels and photography to maintain a creative venue,” she explains. During that time as well, she met other artists who encouraged her through teaching and example. One of those was Ruth Stromswold, an area painter who taught art following the Renaissance method.
“This process starts with studying value, composition, rhythm, unity, balance, and harmony necessary for a painting to capture and hold a viewer’s attention.
“For over four years, I attended regularly scheduled classes learning both oil and pastel painting.”
“I recognize that masters of any profession achieve their talent through continued education.”
Fully Immersed in the Moment
Now retired, Kingman is finally able to immerse herself in her artwork, and divides her time between painting, volunteering at the Gallery at the Park in Richland, camping, hiking, and traveling to the various galleries where her art is shown. Although she enjoys working in both the studio and out on the field, there is a persistent tug about plein air painting that prompts her to shut the door to her studio and head out into the wild, paints and pastels in hand.
“My most enjoyable moments as an artist are when I do plein air painting.
“There is nothing that equates to doing a sketch or painting while being totally immersed in the surrounding environment.
“I find plein air painting the most challenging but rewarding experience of capturing the essence of the environment into your work.”
Reaping the Benefits of Being Determined
Kingman is a member of numerous art societies, including Plein Air of Washington, the Northwest Pastel Society, Arizona Pastel Society, and the Pastel Society of the West Coast. She has participated in juried shows throughout the Pacific Northwest, and for the last 12 years has been a part of the Kennewick, WA, First Thursday Art Walk Tour at You and I Gallery.
She could have given up at the beginning; lots of people do. But Kingman, like many artists, refused to let the creative element in her bow to the pressures, and paradigms, of societal “norms.” And so throughout her life, she has made a place for art in her life, and now, in this sweet time of retirement that really isn’t retirement because she’s incredibly busy pursuing her second career, she reaps the benefit of determination and persistence.
“All forms of art are challenging,” Kingman observes. “As best described by Edgar Degas, ‘Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.’
“Art is where my heart and soul find the greatest satisfaction.”
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail email@example.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.