Artist Patty Boyer hears an aquatic call of the wild.
Patty Boyer is rarely anything but positive and upbeat. Maybe that's because she loves what she does.
Boyer, a fixture in the Lawrence arts community, walked away from her day job a few years back, determined to transform her arts education background into something more than a hobby.
She wanted to make a living at it.
"I had one of those 40-year-old's crises and decided ... maybe I should give making a living with my art a try," she recalled. "I like the freedom, the flexibility and having total control of my destiny."
Although she has a bachelor's degree in drawing and painting from Kansas University and has taken art education classes at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, neither painting nor education has held her interest.
What really captivated her was getting her hands dirty molding clay into ceramic art.
"I had been able to take one whole semester of ceramics at KU, and I really liked forming the clay. I was determined and curious to figure it out," she said.
Through her work, Boyer began creating what she called "fantasy shoes" -- ceramic shoes fashioned to look like they were made from Calla lilies, twigs, cattails and butterflies.
It was her way of fusing her love of art with her passion for nature.
"When I majored in drawing and painting, my work always included women and the natural element. I will never do anything not drawn to the natural world," she said.
Specifically, it has led Boyer to create what is now her signature work, individually hand-crafted and vividly painted fish, which sell briskly at her booths at various crafts fairs. Her work is currently on display at the Lawrence Arts Center, 200 W. Ninth.
Eschewing molds or templates, Boyer chooses instead to craft her schools of fish individually, carving each piece out of earthenware white clay with a clay knife.
She then adds the eyes, fins and gills, carves in more detailed designs and runs the material through an initial kiln firing.
Later, she paints each piece with multiple layers of acrylics and enamels, and seals it with a final coat of polyurethane varnish.
As a result, Boyer avoids assembly line art.
"I really enjoy creating my fish," she admitted. "Fish lend themselves to all kinds of patterns and wild designs, so I never have to repeat myself."
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