When Sulphur native Skip Thompson began painting in 1980, she had no idea that 34 years later, her artwork would be exhibited in the Governor’s Gallery at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
At the beginning of her instruction with her first teacher, Maude Landsford, there were some testy times because Landsford was a tough teacher. But Thompson looked forward to every class because she knew Landsford was fond of her students and wanted them to flourish as artists.
“That woman knew more about art than I’ll ever know,” she said.
Now Thompson feels it is her responsibility to impart her knowledge to her own students.
“We’re all given a left and right side of the brain,” she said. “So I try to teach [my students] how to get into the right side of the brain and use their artist-eyes.”
Through her own artist-eyes, Thompson paints to show her audience the beauty that is in the world, especially in Sulphur’s Arbuckle Mountains area. She hopes her work sparks a memory in the viewers and makes them feel something.
her most recent piece — “The Lineup,” which is hanging in the
Governor’s Gallery — from a picture on a friend’s cellphone around
“It just kind of screamed at me, ‘Paint me! Paint me! Paint me!’ It was a challenge because, if you’ve ever tried to paint from a phone, it’s not the easiest thing to do,” she said.
Thompson usually paints with oil paints because they’re the most malleable. She tends to paint about 12-16 hours a week, and her best work happens in the mornings, when she is fresh and the light is good.
Knowing when a painting is finished is “the hardest question an artist ever has to answer,” according to Thompson.
“You just paint until something tells you stop,” she said.
Because of this challenging concept, she doesn’t display her artwork in her house. She explained that otherwise, she would always be critiquing it and repainting it in her mind.
Thompson doesn’t believe an artist can ever reach a place at which she doesn’t make mistakes or struggle. For instance, when she gets “down in the mulligrubs,” she attends an art workshop for inspiration.
“I think it’s just a constant process of learning,” she said. “I don’t think you ever get it all learned up.”
Thompson’s From Within exhibit is on display in the Governor’s Gallery at the Oklahoma State Capitol until March 30.