How much can one learn about an artist by looking at his work? A review of painter Pamela Kirkham’s latest pieces reveals a great deal about the artist's life and passions.
The artist was born in Pennsylvania, USA, but grew up in Michigan from age 2 – 18, and returned recently after living 15 years in Texas, 8 years in New Mexico, and 4 years in Oklahoma. “Lake Michigan has always been a special place of solace and restoration for me as I’m a serious swimmer and somehow the lake just feeds my soul and is so much a part of me.” Her fluid style comes from her love of the water.
Uplifting flying creatures, painted realistically on top of dynamic, free-flowing abstract backgrounds, take you to a place of fantasy where you can escape your life struggles. “I’ve always been inspired by nature, especially flying creatures and have had many dreams of flying myself without wings, but enjoying the view of the earth below me.” Pam’s technique of transitioning bold colors from transparent to opaque and her deep understanding of art principles such as composition, texture, and light, bring you to a new emotional world of beauty and peace.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve been creating art. My mother was very creative and took me to the Art Institute of Chicago every year or two when I was young. She also enrolled me in art classes as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil, which exposed me to drawing, painting, and sculpture at a very early age. In high school, I took every art class that was offered and had 2 wonderful and inspiring teachers, Paul Kussy and Charles Murray who were both excellent artists in their own right. They encouraged me to continue my love affair with art.”
After 2 years of music education as a coloratura soprano at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, she decided she was better off nurturing that talent on her own. The university kept her singing Mozart arias and steered her away from popular music, a genre in which you can actually make a living, albeit a meager one. She turned to her first love – making art, and attended Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pamela graduated as an illustrator and pursued that career in Texas. Along with illustration, she became skilled at graphic design and drafting, working contract for many major oil companies in Houston including Shell Western E & P Region, Exxon, Esso, Anadarko, and Mitchell Energy and Development Company, to name a few.
In 1992, she started her own business, Kirkham Fine Arts, which encompasses fine art and production of limited edition ceramic tiles using a heat transfer method. “I hand press each tile which is a small section of a larger painting from the Fight or Flight series.” The business has survived operating in three states (New Mexico, Oklahoma, and now Michigan) and a recession.
“Mural painting and public art became an obsession when I lived in New Mexico where I beat out hundreds of competitors to be chosen to paint 2 murals through the New Mexico Arts Division’s Art in Public Places program. In Enid, Oklahoma, I executed a dozen murals throughout the city in churches, businesses, and homes. I’ve painted 20 murals in 4 states. Two of my designs for painting life-size, fiberglass bison were chosen by the Nature Conservancy in Oklahoma to be painted for the Oklahoma Sesquicentennial in OKC. The Bank of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City commissioned one and the Harris Foundation of Enid funded the other. Both are featured in a book, "The Spirit of the Buffalo" by Linda Miller Bosteels, available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My sketches adorn the inside front and back covers.
Other accomplishments include having been chosen to be an ArtPrize artist in both 2014 and 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan; chosen for the Oklahoma Arts Division's Artist-in-Residence program; nominated for the New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts; awarded Best of Show and Best in Natural Science Illustration in the Southwest Biological Photographer's Association Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Best of Show in the Whirpool Art Exhibition in St. Joseph, Michigan; Second Place - All Media in the Northwest New Mexico Art Council's Regional Juried Show; and Second Place for Oils & Acrylics at Riverfest, Farmington, New Mexico.
She recently returned to Michigan where she currently is a full-time professional fine artist working in acrylics on canvas. Check out her two latest series, Fight or Flight and Fluid Movement. Most recently, she displayed her work at The Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, Diekema Hamann Architects in Kalamazoo, MI, The Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo, MI, and The Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, IL. Pamela’s work can be found in many private art collections world-wide.