2007-07-14 / News

Island Views Inspire Colorful Paintings by Longtime Visiting Artist

By Sean Ely

At left: Elyse Krachman (far left), Noel Skiba, and Paul Skiba stand outside Victorian Summer Gallery Thursday, June 21. The three display paintings completed earlier in the day. Mrs. Skiba says, "Painting en plein air is unbelievable because of the lighting. If you can't paint outside, you can't see the image exactly." At left: Elyse Krachman (far left), Noel Skiba, and Paul Skiba stand outside Victorian Summer Gallery Thursday, June 21. The three display paintings completed earlier in the day. Mrs. Skiba says, "Painting en plein air is unbelievable because of the lighting. If you can't paint outside, you can't see the image exactly." The sparkling blue water of the Straits of Mackinac, the vibrant pinks and purples of Island lilacs, and the radiant orange and red sunsets one sees on Mackinac Island can also be found on Noel Skiba's easel.

A third-generation artist, Mrs. Skiba has been coming to the Island since she was five years old and now paints at Victorian Summer Gallery. She lives in Cannon Township near Rockford and was graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design.

"As a colorist," she said, "I see beauty in everyday life - a child's smile, sparkling water, racing cars, or shadows on a building. As a historian, I document a moment.

She has been selling her artwork on Mackinac Island for the past five years, and shop owner Jack Landres features her work in two of his stores.

"She has an ability to paint oils, water colors, or acrylics," Mr. Landres said. "She can paint them really tight or really loose, and she has the ability to make something look 15 different ways, regardless of how you conceived it would look. She is extremely talented, with a great personality. People love to talk to her, and she loves kids, especially when they come and ask questions about art."

At Victorian Summer Gallery, children can create artwork of their own, with woodblocks on the porch.

"The kids totally respond to it," Mr. Landres said of the woodblock program, created by employee Kelly Dorman. "With these art projects, children can create a piece of art while they are on vacation, and they can frame it and keep it forever."

Elyse Krachman, 16, Mr. Landres' niece who was visiting the Island, planned to sit outside and play her guitar, but once she saw Mrs. Skiba painting, she had to join in.

"Today is a gorgeous day and I really like the Bohemian kind of feel," Miss Krachman said. "I love being outside, and I love playing my guitar outside. Painting is very therapeutic; it is relaxing."

Mrs. Skiba's son, Paul, is an artist at the age of 12. His favorite hobby is building model cars and airplanes, an interest he has taken to his canvas with acrylic paints.

"I started doing artwork when I was four years old, and I sold my first piece at that age" for a dollar, Mr. Skiba said.

A challenge while painting outside on Mackinac Island is the intense gusts of wind. Even on a beautiful day, a sudden gust can send tubes of paint and an artist's latest creation crashing to the ground, so supplies are weighted down. Another challenge of painting outdoors is capturing the light.

Mrs. Skiba estimates that she has completed more than 10,000 works of art. In Trinidad in 2000, she created 100 paintings in less than 10 days.

Four artists have painted outside the gallery this summer, and Mr. Landres plans on four more making appearances before the fall.

Mrs. Skiba will continue to paint in front of Victorian Summer Gallery until early August. She can also often be seen taking snapshots around the Island, and enjoys capturing moments from the ferry rides, too.

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