Origins: Kira Fluer Olshefski

So where do I begin?  What is the origin of my art?  My earliest memory of being labeled an artist was in the third grade.  My teacher and her aide were standing over my shoulder singing praises of my work and saying,  “What a little artist she is!”  So what was this fabulous masterpiece?  It was a drawing of a penguin in a winter scarf, of course.  What a wonderful feeling being acknowledge for my art.  Those adorable penguins will melt people’s hearts every time.

I moved beyond winter-accessorized penguins when I took art class in high school. During the summers, I took Chinese brush painting classes.  The instructors I had were true inspirations to me. When it came time to apply for college, I seriously wanted to major in art.  Unfortunately, I was a victim of “teen-aged fuzzy brain and scattered thoughts syndrome.” I had no clue of how to put a portfolio together and didn’t realize the deadline for college applications was only a week away. Since I didn’t have a portfolio, I did manage to complete my applications and be accepted to Cal Poly majoring in Biological Sciences (a.k.a. second choice major). Okay, so the art thing had to be put on hold, but I did have elective units!  Between labs of botany, bio chemistry, zoology and physics, I took a variety of art classes.

After college, I went into the teaching field, sharing my knowledge of the sciences and art with elementary students.  My students and I took many walking field trips with drawing materials.  I ruled my class with a white board marker.  I used art as a way to positively manage the classroom.  The students knew that if they were attentive and working diligently during lessons, then they would be treated to an ongoing whiteboard cartoon of my last name caricature, “The Old Chef that Skis (Olshefski).”  Thanks to the students good behavior the old chef had many adventures escaping sharks, entering the Olympics, extreme sports, and much more. I have encountered students from my early years of teaching who still remember my whiteboard artwork and field trips.

My teaching years ended with a pink slip due to a lack of school funding.  Now what do I do?  While figuring out what I was going to do next, I began taking oil painting lessons with Atascadero artist, Tracy Di Vita.  Tracy is an artist that I have admired for many years.  My family and I were regulars at her Open Art Studio. With her inspiration, I learned the medium of oil paint.  It only took 30 years, but now I can say I have a portfolio!  I have travelled full circle back to my original passion of art.  For 25 years teaching was my identity.  Now I don’t have to introduce myself anymore as a laid off teacher; I can call myself an artist.  My work is in Morro Bay at the Gallery at Marina Square, and now will be available at Open Art Studio Tour 2012.

Kira’s studio information can be found in the Open Studios Art Tour catalog, studio #27, page 10.  Need a catalog?  They can be found online and throughout the county.   In Atascadero they can be picked up at The ARTery and the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce.


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