There was a time when a visit from his two young daughters to his art studio meant that Charles Baughman wasn’t going to get much done.
But that was before the chickens.
Baughman, a painter, sculptor and founder of the local Monart School of Art, will join his daughters Vivian, 8, and Nina, 5, at the opening of their new joint exhibit, “From the Garden,” a delayed Final Friday event at Newman University’s Steckline Gallery. The opening reception for the show, which also features 3-D artwork by Dan Gegen, was snowed out on Final Friday and is one of several shows around town that were rescheduled for this weekend.
The seeds for the show were planted a year and a half ago, when Newman’s director of visual arts, Mary Werner, asked Baughman to put together a show for the school’s gallery.
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He decided to combine a couple of his passions – gardening and painting – and began to work on a series of flowers from his back yard: hyacinth, iris, lupine.
Then, Baughman and his wife, fellow artist Kate Pepper, got some chickens for their back yard.
“They’ve been the best pets we’ve ever had, even better than our dogs and our cats,” he said. “And the kids just love them.”
Baughman’s daughters, who were regular invaders of his studio, suddenly became obsessed with drawing the chickens.
Then Baughman became obsessed with their drawings.
“I just kept looking at their drawings saying, ‘They’re just gorgeous.’ They’re kind of simple, but they have a narrative. We started working together, taking their drawings and turning them into paintings with lots of pattern and bright colors.”
He would start the process by teaming with the girls to paint different pieces of paper, creating various colors, textures and surfaces. From the paper, they’d cut out shapes that, when glued onto a surface, would re-create the girls’ chicken drawings.
The father-daughter activity continued until Baughman realized he was on to something. The work had an Eric Carle feel, he said: childlike but with an air of sophistication.
“I realized it was finally at a point that I could do it with my kids and it could be really successful,” he said.
Baughman’s part of the show contains about 22 pieces, eight of which were created with the girls. The rest are the flower paintings he’d already been working on.
The girls were so exited for their first art opening and had invited friends from school, Baughman said. When snow canceled Final Friday at Newman, they were pretty disappointed.
But they’ll be at the show with their parents Friday for the rescheduled reception, which will be from 5 to 7 p.m.
“They are really thrilled,” Baughman said. “They’re like, ‘Wow, we get to do our first show.’ And it’s at the university, so it’s a big deal.”