Yvonne Kinney’s interest in the arts started when she was a young girl living in Waukegan, Ill.
Her stepfather was a hotel manager and the family moved frequently which exposed her to music and the fine arts. During her childhood, she lived across the street from the Indiana’s John Herron School of Art & Design. Many of her summer days were spent at the art school watching and learning by the side of the art students as they painted. “Being a child, they took me under their wing and gave me quick lessons while they were out on the grounds sketching,” Kinney said. She won a scholarship for a year at the art institute with one of her paintings. Kenny lived in Chicago, where she remembers watching the big bands perform and met many of the musicians, such as Johnny Ray, Vaughn Monroe, Count Basie and the Crosby Boys.
At 25, she married, became a military wife and moved to Italy. Her neighbor was the editor of the local paper and stopped one day to ask her to visit with his children to expose them to the English language. Kinney said “he noticed I was painting Christmas cards when he stopped by and invited me to visit a group of his friends who painted together. At the time, I was painting with a tin of watercolors and on anything I could find, like cardboard from men’s shirts from the PX. When I visited the painting group (composed of 6 Italian men) the men were horrified with my tin of watercolors. The following week when I went to the painting group, they had purchased everything I needed to start working with oils. I worked with them for six months learning the Old Masters style of oil painting.” While living in Italy, she toured the town of Vinci, where she visited Leonardo de Vinci’s home and olive garden and “sat in the same spot where de Vinci painted.” While living abroad in Italy and Turkey and traveling to Germany and France, she toured many museums and art galleries. Kinney worked in oils until she moved to North Augusta.
In 2001, her family located to North Augusta and she started working in acrylics, studying techniques and taking local classes. Later, she took several watercolor classes from Jim Gensheer in Augusta, now of Sante Fe, and became fascinated with that medium. “I really liked Jim’s fast style of painting,” Kinney said. Her travels to Europe and the Middle East have a strong influence on her painting style today.
Kinney joined the North Augusta Cultural Arts Council (NACAC) and after attending some of the musical events, asked the council if there was a local artists’ guild. The council encouraged her to start one. “I was given the artists’ names that participated in a street banner program and invited them to start a guild in 2002. Five artists came to the initial meeting, others joined and we met informally for several years,” she said. The North Augusta Artists Guild, after some months of limited activity, organized with a board of directors in 2007 and became a separate group from the NACAC. Today, the North Augusta Artists Guild meets monthly, the first Tuesday of the month, with guest speakers, art activities, pot luck suppers, and new this year, touring featured art spaces. Kinney is currently the president of the North Augusta Artists Guild and writes a monthly column Art on the River’s Edge which focuses on all aspects of the arts and special events in and around North Augusta, for North Augusta Today.
Reach Kinney at email@example.com or 803-349-5112.
Beth Jones is the vice president of the North Augusta Artists Guild.