Q&A with Adreinne Kralick
Meet Northern Virginia artist Adrienne Kralick — painter, teacher, global citizen. She has recently returned after a sabbatical to paint and focus on her charity organization, Painting Brighter Futures, which helps children living in under-served communities of the U.S. and Africa improve their lives through education.
Kralick says: “I love to paint people, especially women and children… a woman walking to work, is an ordinary scene… with a basket of fruit on her head and a baby on her back the scene becomes exotic to someone who lives in America. I love this juxtaposition; the beauty of everyday life in different cultures and countries.”
Her oil paintings on raw linen reflects an impressionistic style, which translates well to viewers as memories which reflect our own experiences. For commissioned portraits, Adrienne Kralick has used a clean, accurate and clear style of painting, but says she has always loved the impressionists. Kralick studied the work of the Dutch and Flemish masters while living in Belgium, and learned even more as a museum copyist at the Art Institute of Chicago. Today her style combines a range of techniques from different time periods.
Phebus: How did you come to understand such a variety of painting techniques?
Kralick: Years ago when I sought to find a way to learn how great artists accomplished what they did, it was difficult to find. There really aren’t any classes called “Learn the Secrets of Rembrandt”, well, not until I started teaching them… I started by creating my own education — by learning techniques from many different places, studying with artists I admired in the U.S. and in Europe, reading a ton of books and articles, copying masterpieces in the museum at the Art Institute of Chicago, studying originals up close and in person wherever I could all over the world. Now I teach workshops at the studio school I founded in Great Falls, Artists on the Green.
When did you first begin to paint travel series?
I first began to travel when I met my husband Ken. He has always traveled for business and the trips have gotten further and more exotic over the years. When we moved to Europe in 1998, my youngest child started school and I set out to paint each day. At that time I also took tons of photos of things I wanted to paint. I am still painting from those photos in addition to capturing scenes from my recent travels.
How do you manage in more exotic or remote locations?
I was terrified the first time I flew by myself to Europe and I was afraid to leave the hotel by myself. Now, I have flown alone to places like Ghana and Dubai and I am perfectly content wandering the streets of a new city alone. I try to see every art museum and gallery I can in each place. However, if it is a dangerous place or the culture is difficult to navigate, I hire a local guide to take me around. It is a great way to get to know the culture and make new friends.
I have always looked for a way to give back and tried several avenues before I found the one that sooke right to my heart – the children of Africa. I was first inspired help these children while I was visiting my daughter who was spending a semester in Ghana, volunteering with Future Leaders Underprivileged Children Center. I immediately fell in love with the children and I just had to find a way to help them. But what could I do? I was just an artist with a little studio in Great Falls, Virginia. So, I decided to donate the proceeds from the paintings I was doing of African scenes to help the center.
When people heard about the project, they started to bring me donations of clothes and school supplies to take back with me to Africa – and I went back 3 more times that year! It had a snowball effect so we have now sent two shipping containers FULL of school books, started a new computer lab with donated desktop computers and are about to break ground on a new school. I am amazed at how this has grown. Painting Brighter Futures is now a non-profit organization helping children in Kenya Ghana and here in the U.S.
What advice can you give anyone who seeks to start a humanitarian effort as you have done?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something and tell everyone your dreams. Anyone might know someone who can help. People said I would never be able to get donations to Africa. But I did. I talked to practically everybody I met about what I was doing and eventually I met the right person who ships items to Africa. My network is still growing. Sometimes is takes two or three conversations with someone for them to hop on board, and now I have a band of volunteers having lots of fun, and shopping flea markets and garage sales for books and clothes for children in need.
I spoke to a group of high school students in Nairobi, Kenya. One child asked me how they could get a computer – 800 children and not one working computer. Within a week we made it happen! I bought a computer and found someone who could take it with them to Kenya. Word spread and a few other people have donated their old computers. It is amazing how many things we have collecting dust in our closets that could change the lives of others.
What is next for Painting Brighter Futures?
I am having a fundraiser at the Gallery Underground in July, and then I plan to take a group of volunteers to Kenya in August. Each person will bring a suitcase full of diapers, penils and other donations for a school and orphanage in a Nairobi community called Mathare. While there we will spend time helping care for the babies in the orphanage and help with projects at the school.
What is next for AdrienneArtist?
I am going to be teaching more art history and painting workshops. In March, I am teaching a workshop on the techniques of J.M.W. Turner at Artists on the Green in Great Falls, VA. I am looking for more venues to bring these classes and workshops to a larger audience.
I am also going to paint more mother and baby scenes. I recently created a quick painting of my daughter with a friend’s baby. I enjoyed it so much and it has been getting such a great response. This one painting speaks to many people: young and old, men and women. It really just flowed from my paint brush like nothing I have ever painted before.
The current show at 505 North Gallery is “Simple Pleasures” which runs through April 8, 2015. A Meet the Artists Reception will be Saturday, March 21, 2015 from 6-9 p.m. A Gallery Open House Reception will be April 4, from 5-8 p.m. The address is 505 Market Street in Frederick.