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Delighting in the ordinary


Everyday life focus of current OU-Proctorville show


PROCTORVILLE — When Denise Spaulding picks up a brush, her mission is to turn the ordinary into a work of art that will bring joy for the viewer.

“My approach to art is typically that I like to take every day common things like streetscapes and fine the composition and play of color and light in it,” Spaulding said.

The current exhibit at Ohio University Proctorville Center shows a selection of Spaulding’s streetscapes as well as stilllifes and idealized portraits.

For Spaulding the visual arts have been a part of her life since childhood.

“I have always painted and drawn all my life, always had a pencil and paper,” she said. “I would draw the characters in the funny papers on Sunday so when I went to college, I majored in art.”

After her four years at Morehead State University, Spaulding knew she wanted to be a working artist, not spend her days in the classroom.

“I never wanted to teach,” she said. “I admired my teachers, but I did want to be a professional artist.”

That’s when she entered the world of the commercial graphic artist working for agencies in Ashland, Ky., and Portsmouth for the next 20 years.

“I probably spent 10 years not painting,” she said. “You just get tired with it. When I was doing commercial art, I was not ready to sit down in front of a canvas or a sheet for watercolor.”

While she was calling on her training and talent as she did graphic art, she wasn’t doing art for arts’ sake.

“You are a selling a product through art,” Spaulding said. “And a lot of it wasn’t art-related. It was design-related.”

Then at one point Spaulding decided she wanted to return to her roots and began painting again. A turning point came when she was at a show of French impressionists and was struck by the reaction of those viewing the exhibit.

“When I went into the show, I just noticed people were really enjoying it,” she said. “People were smiling and getting joy from it. I want to bring some joy to make them happy.”

Besides the current show much of Spaulding’s work is on display 24-hours a day, seven days a week, as she is one of the mural artists who have created scenes on the floodwalls at Ashland and Catlettsburg, Ky., where she teamed up with fellow muralist Melanie Osborne.

“It is like painting anything else,” she said. “But it can get pretty hot up there (on the scaffolding) or pretty cold when the wind starts blowing. With floodwall murals everybody gets to see it. It is not limited to a painting hanging in someone’s house.”

Typically, as the Proctorville exhibit shows, Spaulding prefers working in watercolors and oils.

“I find oils richer than acrylics,” she said.

But medium is not the determining factor to the success of an artist.

“The quality of an artist is dependent on the artist’s eye, passion about the work and the ability,” Spaulding said.

As far as the current show, Spaulding has a single goal for her audience.

“Just to enjoy it,” she said. “If they took pleasure from it that is all.”

The show will be on display at the Proctorville Center through June 22. This week the gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Next week the hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. The gallery is closed on Saturdays.