Lane Memorial Library to unveil 'NH Nature" mural July 12

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Lane Memorial Library to unveil ‘NH Nature’ mural July 12

By Stacy Mazur

Hampton Union, July 5, 2019

[The following article is printed in part and can be found courtesy Seacoast Online]

HAMPTON --

Kit Collins is lying on her stomach across the Lane Memorial Library stairway landing leading down to the Children’s room, feet dangling out over the steps, carefully painting her signature in the bottom corner of her latest mural, a project specially commissioned and funded by the Friends of Lane Memorial Library.  For the past two months she’s been working up high and down low to create this winsome panorama for young readers.

Collins took the commission because she enjoys the challenge of meeting her client’s expectations, like those given by the Friends. She sees it as creating something that they will value and enjoy for years to come. Even with her checklist of goals in hand however the process was not without some unexpected twists.

“As soon as I got here the first day, I got up on my ladder to do the priming and I was like, “I forgot I’m afraid of heights.” Collins shares with a laugh. “I was so psyched for the mural, I forgot that I don’t usually hang out at 11 feet in the air. It worked out fine. Now I’m less afraid of heights.”

Collins grew up near Albany, New York and attended Tufts University where she majored in Peace and Justice Studies. Her senior year she decided to pursue her lifelong passion of art as a career after taking a course on illustrating children’s books at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. “In that course, we viewed a wide survey of examples of children's books and illustration styles, had some studio visits, and wrote and illustrated our own children's books. I loved it and worked on my book obsessively. I credit that course with re-igniting my interest in illustrating and inspiring me to take a shot at doing art professionally after graduation.”

The Friends selected Collins to replace the community art mural from 1998 that was coordinated by local teacher Susan Carte. The pint-sized handprints from that project now belong to adults, and the cute doodles were beginning to show their age. After many years of enjoyment, it was time for something new.

Kit’s colorful, wholesome, and lively art-style shone through in mockups of three different designs, “New Hampshire Nature,” “The Wide World of Books,” and “Local, Gone Global.” Everyone in the community was invited to vote for their favorite during the month of March. In total 376 ballots were cast, on paper or online, with “New Hampshire Nature” the runaway winner.

“I think that the style of children’s illustration has remained in a lot of the projects that I’ve done,” Collins said. “I think this mural has been done in a style that I tap into for younger audiences.”

Collins has worked on other city-wide projects previously, decorating a 3-foot-tall statue of “Nipper” the terrier mascot for RCA Victor Company for the City of Albany. “My design involved illustrating 70+ images having to do with Albany culture and history all over the surface of the dog, and I have funny memories of having this huge bulky sculpture balanced on its back while I tried to draw local landmarks in some hard-to-reach places!” she shared.

Collins also works in a variety of other mediums, creating custom-carved rubber stamps with her own designs for illustration projects, customized maps for art prints, wedding save-the-dates, and other custom illustrations for memory books and gifts. She’s done work in linoleum relief printing (block printing), watercolor, and embroidery, and in the past has offered custom garment embroidery as well.

“I produce a variety of items which I sell online, at art markets and at some stockists, including art prints, zines, and stickers. I have a daily cat- and dog-cartooning project, which I publish on Instagram (@catsdelicatessen and @poochvilleusa), and each year I create a daily calendar for dog and cat lovers, which I sell during the holiday season. I also periodically lead workshops in embroidery and rubber stamp-carving. When I can, I like to work on personal projects in a variety of media, to expand my portfolio and occasionally display in art shows,” Collins said.

This larger scale of work has presented challenges that Collins finds both stimulating and enjoyable. “It kind of surprised me at first,” she said. “Working really big forces me to get out my head, which is great. There are a lot of a ways making a mural is different than making something on a piece of paper, it turns it into a logistical problem to be solved. That changes the head space a lot. I like that variety. I like that when you’re working on a wall, you’re either working on the wall or you’re not working.”

Collins hopes that the community of Hampton engages with her work as much as she has.  “I am really drawn to full, detailed compositions throughout my illustration work, and this mural is no exception! My goal with using that illustration style is that viewers will find something new to look at each time they encounter a work, and that it can be something that remains interesting, provides novelty, and unspools in the imagination over time and over many repeated views,” she said.

“Thanks to the insight and input of the library community, this mural depicts animals and environments that are local to the Hampton community, and I hope that viewers enjoy seeing elements of the local ecosystem reflected in the painting.”

“I remember from being a kid and looking at illustrations, that being able to read the same book over and over again, and either notice new things, or tell new stories. Consciously and subconsciously, I’ve strived for that,” Collins stated.

Kit’s involvement in Peace & Justice Studies also plays into her creative process.  "I try to be mindful of how illustrations might be interpreted, even if it seems like the type of thing most people wouldn't consciously pick up on. I try to consider if the project is reinforcing narratives that don't need to be told," she said.

The mural fills two walls from floor to ceiling in the library’s stairway. It’s an outdoor scene with mountains, marsh, the coast, and ocean, populated by a variety of mammals and aquatic species relaxing and reading. “On my Instagram stories, as I’ve finished animals, I’ve asked people to suggest names. Someone suggested Wilson for the brown fish with little rings. So, I’ve been calling him Wilson in my head,” Collins said. “I was hoping kids and library constituents would help pick names for the rest.”

 The mural was drawn on to the wall using a projector and the digital original. It was painted using a variety of exterior porch and wall paint. The colors were hand-mixed, with large color blocks or similar colors being done first or as available, before a black outline was applied. Where her ladder or scaffolding was in the stairway often dictated the day’s work.

On Friday, July 12th the community of Hampton is invited to see Collins new mural at the Lane Memorial Library during a grand unveiling which begins at 1:30 PM. There will be light refreshments and a chance to meet Kit in the Lane Room. She’ll be discussing her work on the mural and the story she’s created. The Library will also be holding a Community Art Project event starting at 2:00 PM. Families will get to splatter, swirl and splash together a universe of color on a massive, parking-lot size piece of paper. 

The stage is set for an unveiling and dedication of the mural! The extended Hampton community is invited to share in this event at the Lane Memorial Library Hampton, NH.

The Library welcomes full time community residences, local business partners, and summer travelers to

all their events. www.lanememoriallibrary.org or call 603-926-3368. Kit Collins artwork can be found on

Facebook & Instagram @kitschcollins or at www.kitschcollins.com.




Kit Collins Complete Q&A

What's the weirdest project you've ever had?

In 2017, I was a participant in an outdoor place-making exhibit sponsored by the City of Albany in upstate New York, near where I am from. The structure of the exhibit was similar to Cow Parade NYC 2000, where scores of cow sculptures were installed throughout the city, each painted differently by a different artist. For Albany, the reproduced sculpture was a fiberglass rendering of Nipper, a terrier who was the mascot for the RCA Victory Company, which was once based in Albany. Nipper is a recognizable figure to Capital Region residents, as a full-size version of him sits right on top of the RCA Victory building in Albany's downtown. Anyway, the project for me and 19 other selected artists was to decorate these 3' tall pup statues in a method of our choosing; they were then displayed outdoors and in public buildings for a year and a half before being auctioned. I loved participating in this exhibit – it was a really challenging and rewarding project – but on its surface it's a little weird and I've certainly struggled to explain the project to people at times. My design involved illustrating 70+ images having to do with Albany culture and history all over the surface of the dog, and I have funny memories of having this huge bulky sculpture balanced on its back while I tried to draw local landmarks in some hard-to-reach places! 

 

Does music play a part in your creative process: if yes, (and it does) what does you listen to?I wouldn't say that music has an effect on the creative or innovative part of my process per se, but it certainly has an important role in my workflow. Depending on what part of a project I am working on, I could be in a challenging, problem-solving mode, trying to experiment and brainstorm through sketching, or just implementing an idea that I have already determined. There is a general style of music (or podcast) that I gravitate towards for each of these different modes that helps me stay on task and be in the "zone." Working out the composition of a design is a cerebral and "brain engaged" activity for me, so anything besides background noise can be just too distracting. But when I have my design set and I'm just making it happen, like when a mural is traced and I'm plugging in colors and adding coats, I'll put on an interesting podcast or an album I love that lifts my spirit through the repetitive motions. 

What other work do you do?

I offer a variety of custom art services for freelance clients: Rubber stamps, which I can custom-carve for clients and companies, as well as my own designs for illustration projects; customized maps for art prints; wedding save-the-dates; and other custom illustrations for memory books and gifts. I work in linoleum relief printing (block printing), watercolor, and embroidery, and in the past I've offered custom garment embroidery as well. I produce a variety of items which I sell online, at art markets and at some stockists, including art prints, zines, and stickers. I have a daily cat- and dog-cartooning project, which I publish on Instagram (@catsdelicatessen and @poochvilleusa), and each year I create a daily calendar for dog and cat lovers, which I sell during the holiday season. I also periodically lead workshops in embroidery and rubber stamp-carving. When I can, I like to work on personal projects in a variety of media, to expand my portfolio and occasionally display in art shows. 

 

What was your favorite Art School class?

I did not attend formal art school, but as an undergrad at Tufts University, I was able to take several art classes, including a course on illustrating for children's books at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In that course, we viewed a wide survey of examples of children's books and illustration styles, had some studio visits, and wrote and illustrated our own children's books. I loved it and worked on my book obsessively. I credit that course with re-igniting my interest in illustrating and inspiring me to take a shot at doing art professionally after graduation. 

 

What do you think of the library?

I think the library is just wonderful. I've loved getting to know the friendly and accommodating staff, and I can't overstate how nice it is to work in such a welcoming environment. Throughout the project, I've been struck by just how much programming the library runs on a daily basis – it's so impressive. I don't ever remember attending a library that had such a robust calendar, and it's clearly a special place for the greater Hampton community. 

 

What are you hoping the community of Hampton gets from the mural?

I am really drawn to full, detailed compositions throughout my illustration work, and this mural is no exception! My goal with using that illustration style is always that viewers will find something new to look at each time they encounter a work, and that it can be something remains interesting, provides novelty, and unspools in the imagination over time and over many repeated views. Thanks to the insight and input of the library community, this mural depicts animals and environments that are local to the Hampton community, and I hope that viewers enjoy seeing elements of the local ecosystem reflected in the painting. 

 

We have many little patrons who might want to an artist. Do you have advice for someone who wants to draw or be an artist?

Yes! Practice constantly. Create as much as you can, and try new things – a new art style, a new pencil, or drawing something you've never tried before. If you're not sure where to start or you run out of ideas, try drawing a copy of an artwork that you already love. When I was young, I would draw "Birth of Venus" over and over – t's a good way to practice, and to help yourself feel excited again if you hit a creative block. Make friends with other artists, even if they don't do exactly what you do: you can build each other up and talk about what's difficult and what's going well. Lastly, don't let anyone discourage you, including yourself. The world isn't split into people who can be creative and people who can't – if you love it, keep at it, work hard, have fun and experiment.

 

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