“My husband was in the military and he was gone a lot. I was at home with the kids. Painting was a great ‘out’ for me. Art was my vacation.” Wherever her husband’s career sent her, Vicki not only continued to paint, but seriously pursued an education in art. She studied portraiture at Olympic Community College in Washington, oil painting and animal painting at the Tulsa Triangle Art Center in Oklahoma, watercolor, portraiture and drawing at Old Dominion University and Tidewater Community College
in Virginia and landscape, color theory and acrylic painting at American River Community College in Sacramento. As a personal challenge, Vicki entered her work in art shows from Virginia to California, generating more than 75 awards in local, regional,
and international competition.
At American River College, instructor Gary Pruner offered to help Vicki in refining her work. “He’s a fabulous artist and a great teacher. He gave me great encouragement, but never tried to change me. He took me from where I was and pushed me further.” It was her time at American River College that Vicki started working on her landscapes.
“I was doing some surrealistic art then, and landscapes are king of surreal. I got started, but I felt like I just couldn’t do it. When I see things they just awe me. Anything I looked at was just too grand for me to paint. The world is so beautiful, and how could I
ever convey all of that?
My paintings were always too dark. But I kept going out intothe open and painting.It took me a couple of years, and then they started to get lighter. I was starting to be able to show the color and light that I saw.” Light and color suffuse Vicki’s work. Some artists can capture a picture of a place, creating a photorealistic image. Vicki’s work has the magical quality of recalling not only the look but the feeling of a place, giving the sense that if you stepped closer to the canvas, you could smell the earth, and feel the warmth of the sunlight. The effect maybe magical, but the actual process of creation is plain hard labor.
Vicki specializes in plein air painting, creating small studies on location, and then recreating and enlarging them at home in her studio. “There’s something that photographs can’t catch. The light and feeling are different. I have to paint on site to capture what is in front of me. When I see something that awes me, I go out with the mission to paint it. The actual work is non-thinking, taking in what’s coming in through my eyes and putting it on the canvas. Sometimes I don’t get it right. If I don’t get it right the first time, I have to go back and get it again. Even when it doesn’t work, I have the experience of the attempt. I think that if I can’t translate what I see, I have to learn more about it. So I observe more.”
“I have one piece that I worked on for three days of Sailor Bar on the American River. I couldn’t get a riffle of water right. I’m accustomed to doing still water, but on the first day the light kept shifting because clouds were passing over. When the light changed, the whole aspect was different, and that just made me crazy. I must have painted that a dozen times. My friends kept saying ‘Oh, no! She’s doing it again!’ But I told myself I wouldn’t let it beat me. I kept going back until I got it right.” Vick’s acute sense of place and observation, and her perseverance in conveying this in her art make her one of Northern California’s most impressive landscape painters. Her work captures the essence of the rivers, hills and agricultural areas of the state, as well as the spots other painter’s overlook, where she sees beauty even in everyday things.
“There’s something about the feel of a place. When you’re out there, you’re painting the spot, but you’re looking up, down, right, left and the feeling comes through on the canvas. This world is such a beautiful place. I’m in awe every day.”