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Painterly Passion:

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NOW HANGING: Kristin Gibson’s latest still lifes hang at Spectrum in the Forum, which features Gibson as the artist of the month. Courtesy photo.

Last week I had the privilege to meet with local artist Kristin Gibson in her Carolina Beach home (which conveniently doubles as her studio). Immediately, I noticed a pet bunny in a cage on her front porch—which I later find out usually hops around her feet while she’s painting—and a friendly note on the front door: “Welcome, Katelyn!”

Gibson brings me into her home and leads me into a sunshine-filled, yellow-walled living area. It’s vibrant and inviting, and there’s paint everywhere.

I love it.

Hung on the walls, stacked behind the couch and propped up on an easel is her art work, past and in-progress. Gibson, who graduated with a BFA in Surface Design and Painting from East Carolina’s School of Art in 1990, is extremely dedicated to her work.“It’s definitely a full-time job,” she says. “While my kids are at school, I have a chunk of time to focus on my art.”

Her passion began when she was a little girl; she dreamed of either becoming an artist or writer. She ultimately chose art after falling in love with the classes she took at ECU.

When she’s not painting, she’s spending time with her husband—a graphic designer, whom she met in her first class at art school. Oh, and did I mention she also has two kids, with whom she loves to ride bikes, while enjoying the salty beach air?

An avid “pinner” on (something with which I, too, have a fascination), my eyes get huge when she points to the counter and offers a sample of a freshly made, healthy snack. She found the recipe on the website, and the outcome, “apple nachos,” may be my new favorite obsession.

“If I wasn’t painting, I would definitely be cooking for a living,” she says. As her own boss, she’s able to make time to experiment in the kitchen when she’s not finishing a project. Growing up in a large family, Kristin always loved and appreciated food and the big family gatherings that centered around it.

“As my kids get older, the table is a place I can still get their attention,” she says. “I believe in the importance of sharing meals together. It’s also a comfort, and when someone near me is in need, I often bring food.”

Walking around her living room and kitchen, this theme threads her work. Almost all are still-life paintings, the majority of them incorporating various fruits, vegetables and flowers into the images. “I tried other mediums of art (she worked with textiles right out of college), but still life is truly where I’ve found my voice,” Gibson says.

Having always lived on the coast, her fascination with the outdoors is evident, and she can’t stop smiling either as she talks about her passion. “I love the process of learning something new with each painting,” she says, “and the discipline of painting every day.” Currently, she’s having a roof built over her backyard patio so she can benefit from the natural light and sea breeze while painting.

She draws inspiration in many places: from vintage and retro household items, to pottery, flowers and vegetables. It’s not unusual for Gibson to find her muse on the side of the road, as she often stops during bike rides and picks flowers.

“I can hardly wait to paint after a visit to my local farmers’ market,” she states. “The organic shapes, endless color, seeing hints of where it emerged from the ground—all a catalyst for my brush. I even have a vendor that saves me apples with leaves, or calls when they have fresh eggplants in various shapes and hues. Of course, I usually run right over.”

Her produce paintings are indeed a but more intriguing because of what she does after finishing one. Instead of throwing away the fruits and veggies, she uses them to make dinner for her family. “I love to cook what I’ve been painting,” she says. “Recently, a bike ride to ‘The Veggie Wagon’ turned up crazy colors of purple kale, bright asparagus, wonderful white onions and fresh beets—I love painting the leaves! Back home, arranged in a still life composition, complemented by handmade pottery and my grandmother’s vintage tablecloths and teapots, it all seems to come full circle—especially when I find a new recipe to try that night.”

Even more famous than her paintings may be her colorful, hand-painted scarves. Bright oranges, teals and pinks are thrown together in the most expert-like fashion before being rolled, steamed, dried, and ironed to set the dyes in an intricate process.

Since 2004, Gibson’s numerous paintings have hung in nine galleries throughout North and South Carolina. One includes Wrightsville Beach’s very own Spectrum Art and Jewelry, located in the Forum on Military Cutoff Road. Gibson celebrated her three-year anniversary in February as a frequent Spectrum contributor. Her success there has earned her a spot as their featured artist through March. Her most recent paintings and scarves will be displayed and available for purchase. “I’m surprised and appreciative every time something sells,” she says. “It’s a good feeling.”

Aside from merely showing her work, Gibson will offer a demonstration on March 9th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by a reception with wine, hors d’oeuvre and live music by local musician John Kubilas (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.). Admission is free.

Over the next few years, Gibson plans to expand her client base a little further. Eventually, once her kids are grown, she and her husband hope to travel the country, camping and painting along the way. Something she likens to one of her painterly heroes, Georgia O’Keeffe, who actually continued painting into her 90s. “I truly hope to paint as long as I can,” she says. “Well, as long as I can keep getting eyeglasses that work.”

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  1. Shelly and Art

    March 8, 2012 at 2:39 am

    Wonderful article. Dad said to say how proud he has always been of you and your art work. It’s awesome that you can have your passion as your life’s work as well. We love you. Dad and Shelly

  2. Eileen Bott

    March 8, 2012 at 5:20 am

    What a nice article about a beautiful person, and a gifted artist, my niece Kristin. You truly captured her loving, creative spirit. Well done!

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