Nationally Acclaimed Artist & Teacher Calls The Beach Coast Home
By Barbara Voris Eastman
I know I’m dating myself, but I wonder how many Beach Coast readers remember Venus-Paradise coloring sets? They were basically a pencil version of paint-by-number marketed to kids. Even someone who couldn’t draw a stick figure could create a beautiful picture because all one had to do was follow the color key and, basically, fill in the blanks.
The renowned Beach Coast artist and teacher, Kristy Kutch, was born and raised in Michigan City and was probably the lucky recipient of some of those Venus-Paradise sets when she was a kid. However, she didn’t need those pre-printed color-by-number drawings. From a very early age she loved to draw, so she simply created her own.
Growing Up on The Beach Coast
Kristy attended St. Mary’s High School in Michigan City (now known as Marquette Catholic) and went on to earn a degree in elementary education at Purdue University. She returned to Michigan City to teach 3rd graders and used her artistic talents to create some pretty spectacular bulletin boards. When she had time she continued to draw and eventually married and had a family, which gave her even less time to explore her art.
A Late Bloomer
Kristy is a self-described late bloomer. It wasn’t until she was nearly 30 that she had her first formal art instruction at the venerable Michigan City Art League, now in its 80th year. She remembers Gordon (Bill) Cavalier as the teacher of her first watercolor class. A few years later she took a drawing class with Teresa Suarez who brought colored pencils to class and asked if anyone was interested in drawing in color. Teresa became Kristy’s mentor and colored pencils became Kristy’s preferred medium. As she worked with them she found that many of the techniques she’d learned from Bill Cavalier worked with colored pencils.
She learned to combine her art with her teaching background and has written her own “second act.” She’s a teacher, a mother, and an artist who has earned a national reputation for both her work and her skill as a teacher.
An Artist in Demand
Kristy is especially known for her drawings of flowers and landscapes. She has mastered the medium to a point that she is sought after by art centers across the nation and has conducted more than 200 workshops. Kristy is the author of “Drawing and Painting with Colored Pencil” and is featured on the instructional DVD, “Colored Pencil Landscapes: Beyond the Basics.” In addition, she has been featured in countless books and magazines. Kristy is currently working on another book that is slated for publication by Watson-Guptill Publications in late 2013. The book title is "The New Colored Pencil."
Pencils Make Perfect
So why does she love pencils so much? As Kristy explained, “Pencils are less intimidating than other media. They are easy to handle, portable, inexpensive, and, best of all, forgiving. If you make what you perceive as a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. You can fix it because in drawing, unlike in life sometimes, “do-overs” can happen.” And the truth is, not only can they happen, they do happen. Even to accomplished artists like Kristy.
Today’s professional or aspiring artist may choose from a wide variety of pencil types. Kristy continued, “There are still the traditional colored pencils, but there are also wonderful water-soluble pencils that allow you to create amazing effects using layering, texturizing, lifting, spattering, and grating. You may also add a little spritz of water and achieve amazing wash effects that were never possible with the old-style colored pencils.”
Never too Late to Start
All in all, life is good and Kristy is enjoying her second act. She finds it very gratifying to make art and share her knowledge and skills with others. Kristy has a great love of the lake and dunes and continues to rely on the beauty of The Beach Coast for inspiration.
Barbara Voris Eastman grew up in Michigan City and moved back to the area after spending nearly 35 years working in Chicago. She is both the editor and a regular contributor to www.thebeachcoast.com.