From a very young age, artist Becky West of North Mankato has been making messes!
“When I was young, the only place we had to work on our art was the kitchen table,” West said. “I was working on a decoupage project so I put newspaper down. The decoupage stuck the newspaper to the table! From that day on we had a chunk of newspaper decoupaged into the table!
“Another time I was doing some sculpture with soap. I was carving with my hammer and a screwdriver. Of course, I put a big gouge in the table!
“Then there was the time I was painting with oil paints. When I was cleaning up I didn’t realize I was taking the finish right off the table! That was the day we started always using a tablecloth. Sorry about that, Mom!”
Learning To See
West’s Mom, Muriel, an artist herself was always patient and understanding and encouraged Becky and her sisters to follow their passions. Much of her early art instruction came from her mom – who has since had several undamaged kitchen tables.
“My mission has always been to add a little beauty to my corner of the world.” Becky West.
“When I was five or six years old I was doing a color-crayon drawing of a house with a green strip of grass on the bottom and a blue strip on the top for the sky,” West recalled.
“My mom said, ‘Let me show you something, Honey.’ She took me to the window and said, ‘Do you see the sky? It goes all the way down and it touches the grass.’ I saw it! That was the moment the light went on for me and I began to see like an artist.”
She has been seeing like an artist ever since.
Though it was somewhat frowned upon in art school, West likes to focus on realism and beauty. “In school, we had to draw banged up coffee pots and garbage cans. My mission has always been to add a little beauty to my corner of the world.”
Many people who see what she can do with a simple pencil mistake her work for a photograph! She noted, “Some of these drawings can take more than a hundred hours.”
West has worked in all types of media but she always returns to drawing and oil painting as her favorites. Her specialty is drawing, “But if I do drawing and nothing but drawing I can’t wait to paint.”
What would she say to a young artist just starting out? “Do what you love!”
West and her husband, Tim have loved living in North Mankato since 1993. They have two married sons and ten grandchildren.