Artist Kathy Gomric is giving away her secrets.
Known for her fantastically rendered pencil drawings, she’s teaching others how it’s done.
She starts with the basics.
“I told them about pencils,” said Kathy, 60, a self-taught artist who lives in Millstadt. “Test the leads. See how different pressures make different marks on paper. I showed them about cast shadows, lights and darks. The way I approach it is to use one to make the other pop.”
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Kathy, who has been drawing since she was a teen, was on the art show circuit until last year.
“My son Patrick is here with me. I am his transportation and primary caregiver.”
Patrick, 29, was disabled in a traffic accident when he was 5. She also has a daughter, Amanda Lyle, and two grandchildren, Mariska, 8, and Parker, 2.
“I had to think of another way to be active without going out and doing (shows) every other weekend. This space opened up. I thought I would try it. The building happens to be my dad’s. Business is business. Family is family. He said you have got six months to make this work.”
The business is Drawing Fantasies by Kathy. The space is in an office building at 7100 W. Main St. A front room displays her work. Most drawings have an element of fantasy. A surprised face pops from the trunk of a tree in “Click, Click, Click.” Tree branches entwine three self-portraits in “Self-Expression 60.”
“I just love to draw and as I start drawing, things come out of my shadows,” Kathy said. “I love trees and nature.”
She describes her style as surrealistic fantasy.
“I think it started in the ’70s and evolved and continued. I have a very soft style. My art is a God-given talent. I am the vessel it’s coming out of.”
Kathy uses another room as a classroom. On a recent Thursday, the still life class focused on a cow skull.
Why a skull?
“It’s a different surface. It has so many different layers, shapes. Look at it for its darks and lights,” Kathy told her students. “I try to introduce things that get them thinking.”
The pale skull rested on turquoise fabric, dwarfing a small bowl of seashells next to it.
Another week, she might have students draw driftwood, strawberries and canteloupes or amaryllis and magnolias.
“I try to introduce something different.”
The skull was definitely different and a challenge for Kim Ferguson, of Troy, and Rosemary Steuer, of Belleville. Kathy watched the women work, making suggestions, but never criticizing.
“You look for the good in what they do,” said Kathy. “Art, music, those are things you can’t be negative about. It’s a positive experience, an enjoyable experience. Nothing is incorrect. You are the artist.”
You just have to study your subject before you begin.
“I wanted to draw a rose,” said Kim, 68. “I couldn’t do it. I pulled out the petals and looked at it from the bottom. Once I understood the layers of the flower, I could.”
She hopes drawing class improves her watercolor skills.
“I take watercolor with Marty Spears. In my watercolor, I have a lot of trouble with values. It all looks the same. It looks flat. She told me if I came and took lessons, I would learn values from Kathy to make my watercolors come alive.”
“We enjoy each other’s company,” said Kathy. “I have a Keurig coffee pot.”
“Sometimes, she brings goodies for us to eat,” said Kim, who takes the class to relax and further her skills.
Sharing the passion
“I am coming to de-stress myself,” Kim said. She tries to draw 30 minutes every day, not an easy task, when you have grandkids nearby and a husband who likes you to watch TV with him.
“That’s when I pull out my pictures and think, ‘How do I make this better?’”
She and her husband both retired from the Air Force, have lived in the area since 1980.
“Our kids were going to Althoff so we retired here. Now I am a stay-at-home grandma. I sew and crochet, paint. ... My husband does model airplanes, radio-controlled planes.”
Rosemary had wanted to take a drawing class since she was a teen growing up in Korea.
“Thirty years later, I did finally,” said Rosemary, 50, who moved to the United States 30 years ago when she was 21.
“I was in eighth grade the last time I had an art class. ... My older son went to art class for 10 years. I’d take him there. I thought, some day I will draw. I came home from Korea after losing my mother. I was really down. I wanted to work on something. It was the beginning of art class.”
People are Rosemary’s favorite subject, especially her grandkids.
“When I am drawing someone I like, it’s like having an intimate relationship,” she said. “I want to learn like Kathy. I try to break out from myself and become more free, use my imagination, and be free to express myself.”
Rosemary plans to use her talent to write and illustrate books.
The women met Kathy through Gateway East Artist’s Guild.
“I have loved her work,” said Rosemary. “It fascinates me. Through the guild, she advertised that she was going to start a group. That’s how I got her. Now we are friends.”
Kathy also belongs to St. Louis Artist’s Guild, Art St. Louis and Jacoby Art Center. Her work is on display at Framation Gallery in St. Charles, Mo., and Soulard Art Market in St. Louis. Her drawing, “Click, Click, Click,” has been accepted ar the Illinois State Fair Professional Art Exhibition and will hang Aug. 14 to 23 in the Fair’s Artisans Building.
“Drawing has always been a passion of mine,” she said.
A passion she shares.
Kathy showed the women how to use a kneaded eraser to draw out highlights, and how to use a pencil to shade and create contrast.
“It’s almost like the pencil dances across you page,” she said. “Drop it and lift it. Drop it and lift it. It’s kind of like taking off on a runway. You get up speed and lift off. Pressure and release so you don’t make a solid line all the time.”
“Oh, that looks like those ridges (in the horn),” she said to Rosemary.
Kathy’s art classes
When: 1-3 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and 6:30-8:30 Thursday evenings. She also will put together other classes, depending on interest, for children or adults.
Where: 7100 W. Main St., Belleville
Cost: $30 for a two-hour class or $100 for four classes.