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THE DARKER SIDE: Lydia King opens her first solo show Thursday night

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Lydia King’s pen-and-ink work shows intricacy of patterns, as seen in a bird’s eye view of a moth. Courtesy of Lydia King


Much like the flesh-eating plant it’s named after, Flytrap Brewery will be “swallowing” a few bugs of its own on March 12. New work from Lydia King—an illustrator, screen printer and fabric artist—will showcase detailed moths and other dark imagery of the natural world.

It’s King’s first solo show; though, as a CFCC student she has had her work on display at the school’s Wilma Daniels Gallery. She even won a few drawing and mixed-media awards. “I am currently attending Cape Fear part-time to earn my associate’s in fine arts,” she says. “I look forward to transferring to UNCW or ECU to continue my schooling and discover what area I want to concentrate in.”

“Shadows” opens at Flytrap on Thursday and will consist of 17 works by King, sized 8-inches-by-10-inches to 20-inches-by-30-inches, including prints, ink drawings, and prints on fabric.

While many will be originals, King only will sell her prints for $40 to $100. We interviewed the artist about her work and what we will see during the opening, which also features live music from Julia Rothenberger and Soulful Twist Food Truck on site.

encore (e): What first drew you to becoming an artist?

Lydia King (LK): Creating art has always been a form of therapy for me. It’s a way to disconnect from the rest of the world and focus on what’s happening in front of me. I’ve always felt drawn to the process of being able to create something with my bare hands and relishing in the mess.

The problem-solving process of creating a new piece is another major appeal for me. Having to figure out solutions as you progress, and having a sense of pride in your finished work is a feeling like no other.

e: Have you always drawn/painted?

LK: My creativity sparked when I began sewing at a young age. Working with all different types of material and color swatches helped shape my eye for design.

As my skills progressed, I wanted to start using my illustrations and designs on my fabric. Taking classes in printmaking and drawing helped me expand my talents and see how many ways all of my favorite mediums could be combined.

e: How did you get into sewing? What kind of work did you do, and how does it complement screen printing and drawing?

LK: I first got into sewing by taking classes at a local quilt shop called Fran’s Sewing Circle when I was much younger. I now work there part time and teach sewing classes.

Being surrounded by so much fabric and creativity has led to me always being inspired for my own art projects. I mainly sew garments and quilts. I am very thankful I learned how to sew because it has served me well in all of my artistic endeavors.

e: Do you combine the two?

LK: Once I started taking printmaking classes, I realized I could merge the two by screen printing my designs onto fabric for my sewing projects. My last major quilting project was a piece called “Heavy Petal” that won first place in the mixed media category in the 2018 CFCC student art show. It was an applique quilt featuring designs that were carved out of wood and printed onto fabric.

There will not be any mixed media fabric pieces on display at my Flytrap show. However, there will be a small number of prints printed onto fabric tapestries.



e: Did you take classes before college?

LK: I have never had any formal art training outside of the fine arts program at CFCC. Drawing, sewing and other artistic endeavors have always been hobbies of mine that I’ve tried to practice over time.

e: What do you love most about illustrations and prints? Why this particular media?

LK: I love the feeling of being able to take an idea in my head and translate that onto paper. Creating large-scale ink drawings is so satisfying because of how much detail I can add to the finished piece. Each illustration is a labor of love, and the margin for error is minimal.

For my prints, I mainly work in Procreate to draw my designs. Digital drawing is a nice break away from traditional methods because of how much freedom it gives. Plus, being able to undo my mistakes is an added bonus!

I love the look of a bold and crisp finish that screen printing provides. The clean-cut look has a very professional feel to it, and I enjoy the problem-solving process of creating a successful print.

e: Can you explain this exactly, for screen printing and/or drawing a piece?

LK: A lot of my knowledge about screen printing is self-taught, and lots of trial and error comes along with that. Slowly learning the ins and outs of the technique and watching my projects get better and better over time was a very gratifying process. I am still always learning! Sometimes the stars don’t line up, and I’m left wanting to pull my hair out trying to figure out what the problem is.

e: What is some of the imagery we will see and the process behind it?

LK: My art style tends to gravitate toward things in the natural world that are seen as unsightly or unwanted. I like illustrating the process of life and decay, which can be seen in some of my work as things like skulls, moon phases and floral elements.

The color theme for this show, along with most of my work, sticks to a neutral color palette like black, white and beige.You will see many bold, stark prints in only black and white. I use bright colors like metallic gold or red for small highlights or to add contrast.

e: Take me through one piece, beginning to end…

LK: “Luminance” is 18-inches-by-24-inches, done in micron pen and ink on paper ($70). This drawing took me roughly a month to create from start to finish. It was an assignment for my drawing class where we had to create a piece from a bird’s eye view. Moths are a common theme in my art because I enjoy recreating the patterns on their detailed wings. A large portion of this drawing features minuscule stippled areas to create a gradient effect. After I was done inking, I went back in and individually painted each wing and leaf with small layers of a light ink wash. My favorite part of this drawing is the ginkgo leaves because of the bright contrast they give off.

e: How do you know when to walk away from a piece?

LK: I’ve always felt that I have a good sense of when to stop working on a project. I listen to my inner artist inside telling me to wind down when I’m working. Having a clear plan in my head for the steps I’m going to take next helps me visualize a stopping point.

e: Do you have a fave in the show? Why?

LK: One of my favorite pieces in the show has to be my untitled moth screen print. It is a circular image that features symmetrical leaves, moons and a death moth in the center. This piece was so fun to create because it is completely symmetrical down the center. I feel like this piece best represents my style as an artist.

e: Why the title “Shadows”?

LK: Most of the pieces displayed at Flytrap follow some sort of dark theme. I felt the word “Shadows” encompassed those qualities in a way that sounds somber yet not uninviting.

e: What is next for you: new series, new shows in 2020, new techniques you want to try?

LK: I am itching to create a new series! Many of my past works are inconsistent with my current design style, and I’m looking forward to concentrating more heavily on floral and natural elements in my work, along with trying out more biological illustration.

Art work by Lydia King
Opens March 12, 6 p.m.
Flytrap, 319 Walnut St.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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