KOKOMO, Ind. — It’s easy to tell when Chad Parkinson has been busy with his art by the paint marks on his forehead.
He leans in close, his forehead nearly touching the marine board, as he paints gray on the lines he’s drawn for a picture featuring details of the local skate park.
“I have a degree in visual communication, but I am visually impaired,” he said. “I can see shapes and colors, but I have to look closer. When I paint, I get it on my face a lot.”
Parkinson, who completed a bachelor’s degree in new media communication in August, is one of three Indiana University Kokomo students featured in the 2015-2016 edition of Kokomo’s Artist Alley.
Kei’Anna Anderson and Elle Blackburn also submitted proposals for the all-hours outdoor gallery as part of a summer drawing class. James Seidle, a student from another campus enrolled in the IU Kokomo class, also won a place in the exhibition through the competitive process. Senior Cat Bolinger also was chosen for the exhibit. The selection committee chose 12 pieces, all using the theme of Kokomo architecture.
“I was really excited for this opportunity,” said Parkinson, from Bedford. “It was a great way to end my time in Kokomo. It’s an honor to have something out there.”
His submission was a drawing made in colored pencil and marker, which he then had to transfer to a 46 by 60 foot marine board and paint.
“My painting experience is this summer alone,” he said, adding that Minda Douglas, associate professor of fine arts, provided technical support and encouragement. “She gave me some techniques, and helps with mixing colors. Now I wish I had taken more of these classes.”
Anderson knew she was destined to be an artist. She moved to Kokomo when she married, and is happy for the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts from IU Kokomo.
“I’ve always done artwork at home, and I knew what I would do when I went to college,” she said. “This is a great opportunity and experience for a beginning artist, stepping out in the community. This is a moment and a big step for me.”
A photo she took for a photography class inspired her painting of the architecture around Oscar’s Pizza, in the Buckeye Street Business District. The project makes her want to learn more about painting — she usually focuses on sculpture.
In fact, the Artworks Gallery, near Artist Alley, now includes some of her sculpture.
She balances her studies while working for the Kokomo School District, as well as family life with her husband and two sons. That means there is usually a project or two going on in the house.
“I think it’s good for my boys to see me work,” she said. “They see that when Mom started, it was an empty canvas, and when she’s done, she has a creation she can be proud of. Education is very big in our home.”
Like Anderson, Blackburn, from Peru, often creates her artwork at home, including her work for Artist Alley.
“It took up my entire living room, so my kids had to walk around it,” she said, adding that it was no big deal. “They’re used to my art stuff all over the place.”
Her submission features stained glass from one of the downtown churches, with the biggest challenge getting the colors just right.
“There was a lot of working mixing the colors, and making the colors you want, and making enough for the entire board,” said Blackburn, a fine arts student. “I made all bright colors, because I love them.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.