Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Killaby wants to open an artist’s studio, something she believes the East Texas area desperately needs.
LINDALE Maureen Killaby holds a law degree, but she hasn’t really practiced law in more than a decade. You could say she traded the scales of justice for the chance to show others how to illustrate the human body and landscapes correctly to scale.
“Teaching a child is the greatest gift you can give a child,” she said from her home and studio in Lindale, where she provides private lessons on the Sight-Size Method. The Sight-Size Method is a method of constructing realistic drawings with great accuracy that has been used to teach drawing for centuries. It is a method by which anyone with any amount of drawing experience can set up and execute a realistic drawing. “It just seems like God put this in my heart to teach.”
Killaby began her artistic career as a working artist in 2001 when she lived in the Pacific Northwest states of Oregon and Washington. She has since received commissions for her art from customers in East Texas, Arizona, Wisconsin and other areas. In 2004, she moved to Lindale. Within two years, she was teaching art classes at Tyler Junior College’s School of Continuing Studies, a job she still holds. She also conducts workshops at the Creative Arts Center in Dallas, where she teaches her drawing techniques.
“I’ve been working at TJC for six and a half years now … teaching a drawing realism class,” she said. “Privately, I teach the classical approach, where... it’s more about the technique. It’s the oohs and the aahs that really get them. That is what really attracts most people in the very beginning. What they’re seeing is the candy, the icing and the cake, but this is where it truly begins.”
She has become a recognized name in the East Texas art world. In May, Tyler mayor Barbara Bass commissioned Killaby to create a piece of artwork as a gift to the mayor of Tyler’s sister city in San Miguel, Mexico.
Killaby Fine Art provides high-quality fine portraits and artwork from photographs. She accepts commissions for portraiture and still life, and she conducts workshops across Texas. Her website lists dozens of awards she has accrued since 2008 alone from groups such as the Mineola League of the Arts, the Breckenridge Fine Arts Center and the Annual River Road Art Show in Baton Rouge, La. The site also lists comments praising her teachings from former students of her workshops.
“Maureen, some question why I’d drive over 700 miles into the Texas heat to attend your workshop,” wrote one man identified merely as Bill. “My reply seems rather empty until I return with the portraits from the workshops I’ve attended. Then I don’t need to say anything else. I show them the portrait. People are usually speechless for a minute or more while they study the portrait and think, “How did he do that?”
Bill went on to say that he did not believe another instructor in the south has “the skill to pull these artistic qualities out of me.”
Among her students is Natalie Koop, an 18-year-old artist from Whitehouse who forewent college to train intensively under Killaby. “One day, (Natalie) came to me and asked, ‘Do you think it’s better to go to art school and get a degree or study with you?’ I said to her, ‘You have to decide: Do I want a degree? Do I want that piece of paper? Sure, it’s great to have that piece of paper if you want to be an illustrator or go to design school.’”
Killaby doesn’t teach an artist to be an illustrator or a tracer or a drawer with no concept of depth perception. She teaches traditional art, classical art and Sight-Size method drawing.
“This is what I want to do for my career,” Koop said. “I don’t want to go to college because they teach me in different techniques that I’m not used to.”
Killaby has other students, like Janet Morrison, a retired teacher from Athens who seems hellbent on hanging on to her tracing box. When she and her husband retired not too long ago, Morrison got the itch to draw. She has no aspirations of reaching Koop’s goals as a career artist and painter, but she wants to perfect her hobby.
“I just think I’m too old to start from the beginning and learn,” said Morrison, who attended Killaby’s TJC class for about two years before beginning private lessons this summer. “I had never drawn before when I took my first class with her.”
Killaby wants to open an artist’s studio, something she believes the East Texas area desperately needs. She is open to several locations, but one space she has identified has five rooms and could accomodate her early plans. She wants to offer water media, sculpture, drawing with a live model and oil paintings, with a student store for supplies and a private class for nude artistry. But she needs sponsorship and student commitments to handle expenses, which include $1,200 a month for rent and utilities.
“I need a couple of artists, actually five or six, who want to make a commitment... We just need the money, the sponsorships, the donations,” Killaby said. “I spend more of my time teaching here because this is where my heart is. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching at TJC, but deep down in my heart, this is where God has landed me.”