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Wichita Falls Living Magazine

Fresh Waves of Art

Claire Howard is new to the Wichita Falls art community but shows promise and a desire to create art. Her work was recently on display at the Arts Alive Home and Garden Show.

By Cindy Kahler Thomas

A fresh face has arrived to the Wichita Falls art scene. At the ripe old age of sixteen, Claire Howard displayed and sold her artwork at the Annual Arts Alive Home and Garden Show in February. 

Claire was invited after submitting a painting to the Mystery Art Show in October last year at the urging of her high school art teacher, Carolyn James. “Mrs. James encourages everyone to enter stuff to the Mystery Art Show. I was in a huff because I did not want to do it! Anyway, I did, and I am glad I did. I painted my cute little mushrooms and my butterfly, and I really hated it,” Claire said with a grin.

Mystery Arts is an annual event hosted by The Kemp Center for the Arts (the Kemp) to benefit their gallery programming, according to Kristen Shiplet, Marketing and Development head for the Kemp. “We put out a call for artists in May and we accept 8 by 10-inch art pieces from local and regional artists.  Some of the artists are youths, and we have a youth category,” 

Kristen said. Claire’s award came with a $50 cash prize, and the option to have booth space at the entrance of the Home and Garden show to promote her artwork. Additionally, a 4 by 7-foot panel was painted in likeness of Claire’s original winning piece. Claire said she considered it an honor to have someone recreate her art, which was hung over the hall’s main entrance.

When Claire’s family and friends went to the event with her, one of her friends pointed out that they had won awards. “I didn’t even know that I got an award at first,” Claire said. “I didn’t think anything that big would come out of it, but Mrs. James explained what I had won. Claire said the Kemp’s events presented her with lot of opportunities, and she plans to seize any that come her way. “I got a lot of very positive comments at the Home and Garden Show,” she shared. “A lot of people walked by and said, ‘Oh look at that,’ or ‘That’s a cool one,’ or ‘Look at her dog drawing.’ Some came up and asked me questions. They told me that I should be at the Art Walk and to put my art on Instagram.” The Art Walk is a monthly art show in the downtown area with artists’ booths lining the streets. 

 Mrs. James also encourages her students to enter their artwork in the Visual Arts Scholastic Event. It is the largest high school competition in Texas. Claire entered both her freshman and sophomore years and received exceptionally high scores. Her first entry was an oil pastel drawing of her dog, Rip. Claire said that he is deaf, and very calm and makes a wonderful model. Her second entry was a floral creation of lilies.

Claire’s mother, Lindie Howard, was also a student of Mrs. James. While her artistic abilities never came to fruition, she was quick to notice Claire’s natural talent as a child. Lindie said, “She started drawing in the fifth or sixth grade, and I thought, ‘Where did she get this talent?’ In middle school, she entered an art contest, and her art was showcased, so, we knew she was really good and encouraged her to do more.” Lindie is thankful Claire has found such a rewarding hobby. “She is good at school and makes good grades, but she has to work very hard at that. This is something she can be successful at and enjoy because it comes easier to her.”
Claire has a home studio that’s flooded with light and inspiration. She is proficient in several different mediums, including drawing, painting and oil pastels, and is beginning to establish her own style and strengths as an artist. “I hate landscapes. I don’t like to do them at all,” she said with a smile. However, she loves to paint animals, and draw and paint facial features. She is also not afraid of commission pieces. “I will take on anything that people want me to, or I can just create something for you,” Claire said. “I want to be able to make a living from my art when I am older, and I am open to doing commissions now.”

Mrs. James is confident in Claire’s ability to fulfill her dreams. “She has a lot of natural ability and is also willing to work at it. She loves producing art,” said Mrs. James. She also specifically complimented Claire’s eye for colors. “She has such terrific color combinations. When she looks at colors, she has a natural talent for putting them together,” Mrs. James added.

As for her future in the art industry, Claire understands that the possibilities are endless. “I am also taking 3D-modeling digital art, and digital art animation,” Claire said. “I am interested in producing art in the entertainment fields, like special effects or behind-the-scenes of movies. A lot of people think I should do graphic art. I would love to produce art full-time, but first I want to go to school specifically to study art.” As a sophomore she has not decided what college she would like to attend, so she’s also not sure what kind of an artist she wants to be.  However, she does know that she wants to go away to college. She is adamant about her desires to see more of the world. Claire said, “I want to be inspired by new things and just see everything!” †

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