Monday, 30 November 2015

meet challenge member: Michele Kempees

Michele Kempees

1. Your name, location
Michele Kempees Lewis, Coupeville, Whidbey Island, Washington, U.S.A.
by Michele Kempees

2. Describe your family
We are a large blended family of 6 grown children, 9 grand children, and pets a dog, 2 macaws, a cockatiel, and an old double yellow head amazon parrot. We recently lost our cat. My husband and I have been married for 7 years after both of us lost our spouse due to a long battle with cancer. He is retired and does blacksmithing and that makes for a great artistic house.
by Michele Kempees

3. Describe your work
I am fortunate that I am now retired from all the jobs of my past working life.  Some of these included upholstery designer/seamstress/manager, retail sales, city councillor, management,  American Red Cross director of an area over 3,000 square miles in Oregon, a business owner of "A Touch of Dutch" specializing in imported foods, gifts, lace and locally made items, and a store front studio and gallery.  

Although I am new to illustration, I have been a portrait and fine artist for more than 30 years (when I had time from my other jobs). I am loving all the new art materials I have tried because of this amazing challenge. I usually like using my "go to" medium of watercolors and then decide what is next such as polychromos colored pencil, fine liner or iPad touch ups. For me, having a little whimsy in each illustration is important.

by Michele Kempees
4. What is your career goal?
Hmmm good question. I, like many in the challenge have wanted to do children's books. I thought why not now. I have so many ideas that I would like to get down on paper. If nothing else for myself  then maybe for grand children.  Second career goal would be if possible love whatever I am doing.
by Michele Kempees

5. Describe your art background
I have had no formal training and have gone the long route of teaching myself about how to do things, even digital graphics. It started in high school in the 11th grade. I needed an extra class so decided I like doodling why not take Art 1, might be an easy class. I found I really liked it and my teacher commented I was pretty good.  The next year would be my last year in high school.  After finding out Art 2 would be similar such as color wheels etc,  I asked what about Art 3 and 4? The teacher said they haven't skipped students before but would talk to the head of the school. Well I lucked out and was able to skip both Art 2 and Art 3 and go right into Art 4. I was so happy, the  only downside was it was my first time trying oil, watercolor, ink and tempera. This opportunity put the love for creating art down inside my core.
by Michele Kempees

6. What do you love about the Challenge? What have you learned?
Oh my . . . EVERYTHING!!! This Challenge was exactly what I was needing. My sister-in-law from my late husband was commenting on Facebook about her wonderfully talented niece's (Kathe Hennesey) artwork. I loved what she was posting which got me curious as to why and what is it all about. I joined right away and soon my computer screen was full of amazing art. 

Because I found out about the challenge late, I posted my first  image in late summer 2014. I was bound and determined if I was going to get my skills up and be able to do illustrations, I better try and do every week in 2015. The people and artists I have met are truly gifted, loving people who I am fortunate to now have as friends. 

Because of the supportive nature created here, the commitment of Tania, Nicky and the Admin team,  I have learned so much about art supplies I had never heard of before. What the heck is Inktense, Gelli prints, and Polychromos pencils? Well I just had to buy a few, then a few more, then even more supplies. If being an artist for over 30 years taught me anything it is supplies cost a lot of money. Well thank goodness for commissions because one art form has kept me in glorious creative supplies. Thank you Heidi Cooper for telling me about Polychromos pencils because I am hooked now for life.

7. What is your favourite illustration you have done for the challenge so far?
This is really hard because each one I post is something new I have just tried.  I may have to pick the first one I posted that I felt members got a kick out of. It was Week 38, Giraffe 2014. When I first drew it there was something weird about it. I had an OH MY moment when I figured out a giraffe's legs bend backwards.
by Michele Kempees
8. Tell us something that we don’t know about you
Now my bio photo will make more sense. I have been afraid of dogs all of my life. Not just scared terrified is more like it. I never owned a dog because of it. I could go into why but there is not enough space, let us just say it involved a friends small family dog and how it attacked her. One night at 10:30pm looking at a Facebook page of our local no kill shelter, I saw a post about a German Shepherd dog that just came in. For some strange reason I asked my husband if we could go look at her. Huh? Me? They just posted it so I sent a message are you open on Sunday? Yes they were but not until noon. We were there 5 minutes before. Well, Maggie came home with us and she is the best thing ever. She has taught me not to be afraid and thinks she is a lap dog. The best possible gift I could have given myself. My family was in shock including my children who said, "mom you never liked dogs".  

On another note I love doing construction, I have remodel our kitchen, dining room, created a mud room and refurbished a job site trailer into my studio.

Michele and Maggie

by Michele Kempees

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Book illustrated by Michele Kempees

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