Sally Struck has been “painting on and off for the last thirty years, mostly things for my kid’s rooms,” she said. Until she retired 7 years ago, she didn’t have the time to devote to her art, but now that has changed.
“As I got closer to retirement, I knew that I wanted to stay active and busy, so I took some art lessons from some of the artists in the area and found it both stimulating and relaxing at the same time. I started taking classes with Ronda Ivy, then Betsy Edwards and Ronald Hamer,” Sally said.
“A high school friend, Marianne Moncrief, introduced me to the Wichita Falls Art Association. She said that I needed to get to know people and see what is going on. So, I joined and was horribly insecure because of all of the talent,” she explained. The WFAA has their own gallery downtown and the members hang their art in it. “I was so intimidated, and surprisingly the Kemp Center called me and asked if I would like to have an exhibit in one of their galleries.” She agreed and thought the invitation came because she has contributed to the Mystery Art Fest at the Kemp Center for the Arts for at least ten years. The Mystery Art Fest is a fundraiser for the organization in which artist donate art to be auctioned off. “So that forced me to do a lot of work and develop to get over myself and my insecurities. People liked the art,” she said with a smile. The show took place in the fall of 2018 and was a success.
“I learned that not everybody is going to like everyone’s style. Some people do and some people don’t, but it is okay; just keep trying to do your thing. I want to encourage people my age, seniors, that they can start at this age,” Sally will turn 70 this year, but she is bubbly and fun. “You know, most people have decades of experience before they get to my age, but just dive on in it. It is a lot of fun. It keeps you engaged and healthy.” She has been showing her art at the WFAA Gallery ever since.
While Sally hasn’t been painting full-time until recently, she has always had a creative outlet. “I have quilted and done embroidery for 50 years, so these are elements that you can see in my artwork. Quilting involves patterns. It involves repetition and geometrics and symmetry. And, I found myself putting a lot of that into my artwork. I love squares and circles, and that does definitely influence my art,” she said. “There have been times when I look at a quilt book and say ‘That would make a good painting.’ My first painting looks like a quilt. I tend to do something like that, and it kind of went from there. I enjoy art so much that I am interested in branching out with mixed media. I like it because I like adding paper and different gels and pastes. And the other day I decided to try acrylic pouring and, oh my gosh, that was the biggest mess. It didn’t turn out at all,” she said laughing, “But I am not going to give up, I’m going to keep trying. I want to try lots of different things.”
“I love Aboriginal art, and then again it falls into the repetitive patterns and bright colors. When I am thinking about what I want to work on, I probably think more about the colors than the design. A lot of that is intuitive. I love the Aboriginal art because it has patterns and dots and to me, that is kind of quilty. I am working on one of those pieces right now, and we will see how it works out. It is fun and that is what I want in my art. I just want someone to look at it and think it is fun or enjoy the colors. If I can make somebody smile, then I have done my thing,” Sally shared.
Her first memory of being exposed to art was in the sixth-grade art class. “Sandrea Marvel was my art teacher. She was an influence on me because when I was working, she came over and showed me that by using black it made the colors more vibrant. Ever since then, I always add black to my pieces, sometimes too much black,” she grinned. Now Sandrea and Sally are both in the WFAA, and Sally said, “Seeing her here at the art association after so many decades is literally the biggest thrill.”
Some of Sally’s other artistic influences include Vincent van Gogh. “I love it partly because his work is repetitive, and if you look at his brush strokes, they’re almost like embroidery stitches. That appeals to me. Another of my influences is Henri Matisse. I love him so much, and I love his colors. In fact, I have taken pictures and made them into a photograph and put them in a book, because of his color schemes. His colors are so great, and he uses a lot of black,” Sally said.
My book is like a sketchbook, but I don’t draw. So, I’ll cut something out of a magazine or if I see something on the internet, I snap a picture and have it made into a photo and put it in there. I have a scrapbook of color combinations,” she said, “My work is done in acrylic, ink, pastels, paper and pretty much anything I can get my hands on. I love using gels and paste to get texture.”
Sally also volunteers at the WFAA Gallery, and she is a member of the Board of Directors and holds the position of secretary. “It has been a really neat experience here. I have made so many friends, and everyone is so nice and encouraging. You can learn so much about art by just looking at other people’s art and the things that they do, and I really appreciate it,” she explained.
Sally’s husband, David, and their 5 children and 9 grandchildren are very supportive. In fact, her kids and grandkids all have her art in their homes and are always wanting more. Sally is now working on her inventory and is planning on showing her art at the 2020 After Hours Art Walk, and she is still showing at the WFAA Gallery.
-Cindy Kahler Thomas