As president of the Ulster County Art Association (2016) based in Saugerties, NY and owner of Kristy Bishop Studio (since 1975), I have thought about this question a lot. At age 4 or 5, I began creating artwork and haven’t stopped since. I NEED to do it!
Neuroscientists say that we are hard-wired to process art. Oshin Vartanian says, “Areas of the brain involved in processing emotion and those that activate our pleasure and reward systems are also being engaged.”
Producing visual art improves psychological resilience, produces increased brain activity and relieves stress. Art is used to record history and inspire everyone. I believe that it is a gift from God.
On this journey of self-discovery through the use of paint, I have learned the importance of having a relationship with God. As a result, I have a sense of self-worth. My confidence improves and I don’t need to be searching for validation from others. If my painting is not accepted in a juried art show, I do not take it personally. It is a step in the process of learning more everyday.
Authentic people have a gravitational pull because they can be trusted. They tell who they are and what they feel so that there are no agendas, hidden or otherwise. The artists that I know very well are positive and passionate about life. They exhibit integrity and walk their talk which makes me want to be around them. Respect for others and themselves is shown by living healthy lifestyles. They share what they know about art without a sense of competition. All of this is a recognition of our co-creation with a Higher Power while we are here on this earth. Let’s make more visual art as a result of this!
I am indebted to artist Elin Menzies for introducing Pat to me about four years ago when my studio was on Main Street. I had the great privilege and honor of teaching Pat, a talented watercolor artist about pastels, acrylics and oils. Friday morning class consisted of Patrick Buonfiglio, Michael Saporito, Sandra Hoffman, Mary Rell and Pat Steyer. Later, at my new studio on Market Street, others came and went, but Pat and Patrick were a mainstay.
Pat S. kept us laughing with her witty observations in life and her pseudo-competitive nature. She loved to tease Patrick about winning so many awards in our KBS shows. “You’re going to win with that one!” after each of Patrick’s paintings were finished. She would pretend to scowl at him every time.
Her humor could be startling at times, like the bumper sticker on the car before her last one “God loves you, but everyone else thinks you’re an a_ _hole!” Pat S. could get away with that because she was a genuine lover of people – a real honest to goodness Christian who prayed with me on countless occasions. She would not pry, but she had a way of getting me to speak about how I feel. “Do tell” was her way of letting me know that she would listen and give advice. It was not one-sided. She told me how she felt about relationships and life in general with so much gleaned from years of working for the social services. Her honesty and integrity were admired by everyone who came in contact with her. If she put something bluntly in words, we knew that we ought to pay attention to it.
I feel blessed to have known Pat for the past four years. She gave cancer quite a battle for the past year and a half. Her heart was full of love and her hugs and kisses were the frosting on the cake. I got to say my good-byes in the last month of her life and held her hand on the night before she died. Now, she is in Heaven with Jesus where there is absolute Love and Joy. Pat, I love you and I will never forget you…from your friend and art teacher, Kristy Bishop.
In small art classes – no more than 5 at a time, Kristy gives positive feedback to artists of all ages. Bella is exceptionally talented and listens carefully to instructions. Autumn Stever (15) is the teaching assistant for this class of 5 – 8 year olds which meets every Wednesday at 4- 5 pm for a 10-month season. (Short summer workshops are available in July and August.) Bella loves thick acrylic paint, gouache and transparent watercolor. Her artwork is beautiful and as a highlight, she has good character. She has won several awards for being the most encouraging and complimentary young student toward her fellow classmates in art class.
“My goal as an artist is to serve mankind at the deepest level of my spiritual development through the expression of painting, writing and public speaking.”
My maternal grandmother, Izah Clark, was attuned to my artistic ability when I was a baby. While I was sitting on her lap, I would trace the intricate designs on her dress with my right index finger. She advised my mother to be sure to get art lessons for me at a young age. Since there were artists in my family, both heredity and environment played a natural part in fostering my interest in art. My cousins, Don and Ruth Clark were artists. They attended the Massachusetts College of Art (circa 1920.)
I am the third of four children born in the George and Kathleen Clark Bishop family. I was born in 1951. My mother saved some of my drawings from age 4 or 5 because they showed exceptional ability. Soon after my grandmother passed away in 1958, I received art lessons from a professional artist Bessie Higgins (1897-1995) in Presque Isle, Maine. Higgins studied at the Massachusetts College of Art and taught there until she moved to Presque Isle in 1928.
Drawing and painting have always given me great joy. The process gives me such elation that I do it on a regular basis. If I don’t create for awhile, I feel an urging in my spirit to get back to it. I give God the credit for both my talent and for the desire to study fine art; also, improve my work and share that knowledge with others. God has given us all the ability to create. Some can develop it faster than others.
My passion for sharing and teaching began when I was six years old. I would demonstrate how to draw Donald Duck on a blackboard in our farmhouse kitchen to a number of neighborhood children. My mother documented my progress with photographs.
Teaching is natural for me. I began teaching art privately as a profession in Saugerties, New York in 1977 after studying at the Art Students League. New adult student, Mary Rell wrote in an email to me on 7-16- 2013, “What fun!! I was thrilled to be a part of your talented group. I do not have anyone to compare you to but I can honestly say I found you to be wonderful and easy to learn from. That in itself is quite a skill. Some people have the knowledge but cannot convey the information to others well. My husband was so impressed that he wanted to frame my work…I am still shocked that I was able to accomplish the painting.” (This was her first art class.)
For me, teaching a variety of techniques is the easiest part of being an instructor. However, a real mentor needs to be capable of instilling confidence in the student. I am so passionate concerning my mission as a teacher that many my students set up their own studios at home and continue to practice between classes. Reportedly, my enthusiasm is contagious! My spiritual quest to know God and seek His Will has influenced my passion for art. I am so grateful for this. There is so much beauty that God has created in this world. It exists in every landscape and still life….even in abstraction. More over, beauty can be found in every individual as long as he or she is reacted to with forgiveness and love. I listen as well as look. I have devoted all these years to developing the gift that God has given me.
I love it!” Teaching art, at this studio has been one of my main purposes in life since 1977. More than 800 beginning students have participated in painting and drawing classes, ages 6 through 85. Many friends have been made over the years as a result of this mission in Saugerties, NY.
Kristy Bishop, aged 16. Fort Fairfield, Maine won Runner -Up in a national dress design contest in the magazine “New Ideas for Teens” 1968 along with five others artists across the United States. The Grand Prize winner was Michael McCowan, 15, Jackson, Mississippi with a pale yellow silk dress and coat with black herringbone stripes.
This design was published in the magazine (pictured above.) Black and gold homespun dress belted in soft black leather with matching collar and cuffs.
My mother, Kathleen C. Bishop made sure that I had every opportunity to dress well in our rural Fort Fairfield, Maine. (I received the honor of being voted “Best Dressed” my senior year of High School.) Mom sent checks to Vogue magazine advertisers for any clothing that I desired to have back in the late 1960’s. I studied all the magazines and listened to stories about my distant cousin, dress designer: Jessica McClintock. Jessica’s mother, Verna Hendrick invited me to show a painting in the inaugural art show at the Presque Isle, University of Maine Art Gallery in 1969. I have no record of that exhibited painting of a nude woman riding a Harley Davidson chopped motorcycle. It was lost in California at a later date.
A few of my paintings have not been found over the years. One, a pastel of Charles Bronson in a saddle 12″ x 9″ was stolen from Howard Johnson Motel Lobby Solo Art Show- Saugerties, NY in 1973. It was copied in pastel chalk from a photograph of the actor. The other pastels in the show were of nude models that I painted at the Woodstock summer school, the Art Students League, of which I sold one for $25. The price on Bronson was $100. It was my best portrait to date.
I have been sharing some things with the kids in my teenage art class about my early years in Fort Fairfield, Maine. I suppose it is different for them to think of me as I was at their age. I find it humorous that they seem to have no clue as to my age now. That is as it should be, I suppose.
Kayleen Kennels, my mom’s business was very successful while we lived in northern Maine. She researched bloodlines and subscribed to Dog World magazine. As a result of magazine ads and dog show championships, she was able to sell and ship poodles all over the country. Loring Air Force Base was located in Limestone, only a few miles from her place of business. Many customers came from there everyday, including weekends to purchase dogs of many different breeds beside the poodles which made her locally well-known. Because of her business acumen and her magnetic personality – she was busy all the time making money. The picture above shows her advertising her business in the Annual Maine Potato Blossom Festival Parade in 1964 in Fort Fairfield. My girlfriend, Anne Ashby helped us by holding a poodle. There were several in the car that day.
By age 13, I had been driving vehicles on the farm for one year. I was 5′ 7″ tall and the fastest female runner in my class. I had great strength in my legs and arms from throwing bales of straw and hay around the barn and managing horses. It was about this time that I started arm wrestling (with boys) too.
The desire to compete was encouraged by my mother and my father. They made sure that my sister Vicki and I were in every horse show possible and had professional training at Teela-Wooket School of Equitation in Vermont. It was here that I became proficient at archery, too. Hand/eye coordination was developed to help with my artwork as well.
My maternal grandmother proclaimed that I was going to be an artist as young as I am in this photo. As she held me on her lap, she watched me use my right index finger to trace the designs on her dress. The only grandparent that I ever knew was aware of how creative people observe details. My cousins, Don and Ruth Clark were artists in the nineteen- twenties. My mother grew up watching these artists paint in a home next to the Clark residence on Conant Road, Fort Fairfield, Maine. It was natural to look for more artists in the family.
My grammy continued to insist that I was an artist after seeing these drawings. She made my mom promise to get art lessons for me as soon as it would be possible.
I drew everything that I could find in the newspaper – including Donald Duck (pictured here). My mom documented as much as possible with her camera and at age 7, I was off to study with a professional artist, Bessie Higgins in Presque Isle, Maine.
My grandfather passed away in 1944. Grammy Clark left a small inheritance from potato farming for my mother in 1958. It was used well. I benefited from the art lessons and my mother was able to start her own business of raising poodles and other breeds. Kathleen Clark wanted to be a hair dresser when she was young but the 1929 stock market crash wiped out all bank accounts. The money that was set aside for mom’s education was gone. The farmers rallied. By 1934, Richard and Izah Clark were financially able to buy Kathleen a brand new car – a Lafayette for her high school graduation present. She and George Bishop got married in 1936 and had a son Jerry in 1942 and Hollis in 1944. I came along in 1951 and my sister, Vicki in 1953.
All of us were encouraged to be competitive – whether it was speed boat racing for Jerry or dog shows, horse shows and art shows for me and my sister. It was a way of improving our skills by being passionate about the gifts that we were given by God.
Talent for anything comes for our Lord and we have the duty to develop it, use it and share it with others. When I see parents bringing young children to me for art lessons, it reminds me of my own experience and how my parents encouraged me by agreeing with me that I was an artist at a young age. All of this brings tremendous joy to everyone involved.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, I happened to stand behind a man who was photographing his wife next to the famous self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh. Since my camera was handy, I took a shot of the scene which I transcribed into an oil painting at a later date. This painting was accepted in the juried art show at the Woodstock Museum of Art this summer. For years, I have been painting the beautiful landscapes of the Hudson Valley in New York State where I live. Recently, I have the desire to work on portraits again after a hiatus of many, many years. Strange how desires lie dormant until just the right impetus moves our imagination to work on new themes.
My love of flying brought me in contact with Art Cramer, pilot for American Airlines. I met him at the Kingston-Ulster Airport on October 5, 2014. On that day, I was facilitating an art show of airplane paintings and drawings by my students in the lounge of the airport. Also, the Young Eagles program was providing free airplane rides for kids at the same time. One of my students, Autumn Stever, 14, and her mother went for a ride and so did I. On that afternoon, we were scheduled for another art show at the Mum Festival Art Show, Seamon Park, Saugerties with drawings of animals by my students of all ages. Fortunately, Art Cramer had made plans to visit the park to see his son Marc and his family and it there that I got to know my new friend through conversation. The painting, pictured above, is of the airplane in which he gave his first flying lessons to clients in 1974 when his dad, Hank Cramer owned the Kingston Airport.
Art Cramer took a photo of me on his boat, “My Tweety” which contained a photo of the Saugerties Lighthouse in one lens and a self-portrait of him in the other lens of my mirror- lens sunglasses. I transcribed this photo (with his permission) into this oil painting where I have painted seagulls on the frame as well. All summer, I have enjoyed the boat trips up and down the Hudson River with Art (pun intended.)
This portrait is owned by Pat Feola, mother of my former student Gabby. I received permission from Gabby to use her selfie on Facebook as reference to render this oil painting which was accepted in a juried show at WAAM this past spring 2015. It was also featured in the window of W Couture Dress Shop in Saugerties, NY to advertise the Saugerties Artists Tour 2015.
I have several new works in progress and I will feature them as they are finished…please stay tuned.
Two women forged a bond of friendship that lasted 50 years. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was married to Henry Brewster Stanton (47 years) and Susan B. Anthony was never married. In 1869, these women founded the National Women’s Suffrage Association. They worked for a constitutional amendment to grant women the right to vote. All other reforms would hinge on this primary objective.
Stanton and Anthony were emotionally mature women. They could give constructive criticisms of each other in private and make known their opinions without damaging their friendship. In public, they chose to concentrate on a unified front which they shared.
One of Anthony’s arguably most famous quotes: “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” Even though Anthony was never completely comfortable with public speaking, she was willing to travel the United States for over 45 years to make 75-100 speeches per year in support of the women’s suffrage movement and other important matters. Passion overcame the fear; wisdom resonated with the crowds of people.
Anthony was not against marriage; she was for equality. She agreed with her friend, Lucretia Mott who said it well: “In a true marriage relation, the independence of the husband and wife is equal, their dependence mutual and their obligation reciprocal.”
Stanton described how they complemented each other in their labors: “In writing we did better work than either could alone…I am the better writer, she is the better critic. She supplies the facts and statistics, I the philosophy and rhetoric…Our speeches may be considered the united product of two brains.” Stanton’s husband said: “Susan stirred the puddings, Elizabeth stirred up Susan, and then, Susan stirs up the world!”
Both women were self-confident which gave them the bravery to follow their purposes in life. To speak out against injustices in the mid- late 1800’s was heroic and anytime for that matter. I believe that divine guidance is always the undercurrent of such inspiring motivations. May we remember Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and the multitude of other women who stand up for what is right.
Recently, I reread a portion of my mother’s (Kathleen C. Bishop) memoirs which were published in the book “Fort Fairfield – It’s Time to Tell our Stories- 1858 – 2008” Editors: Rayle Reed Ainsworth and Sarah Ulman 2009 (Hardcover published by Frontier Heritage Society).
Mom wrote her story of her childhood in 2002- five years before she passed away. She had clarity of mind before dementia set in and I am so grateful that she entrusted me with those precious hand-written pages. (She knew that I would take care of them and have them published.) I still have many letters that she wrote to me while I was working in Ogunquit, Maine (1969) and later, in California (1970 – 71)and in Saugerties, NY. My mother had a passion for writing and late in life, she confessed to me that she wished she had used this talent to a greater degree. What she didn’t understand was that her letters to family and friends forged a bond between us and her. It doesn’t matter that the whole world didn’t read her thoughts. Those of us who were privileged to have access to her words of comfort (and some anxiety as well) were blessed with her love and friendship.
Mom was ahead of her time in the 1950s, in that, she started her own business while most women were housewives. In the beginning, she raised poodles in the basement of our homestead and later, had a large kennel built in our backyard which housed several breeds of dogs. Even though she worked long hours, we (her children) knew where to find her.
Although, she had her faults (like all of us), she taught me how to be brave in a man’s world of business. She introduced me to commerce when I was 12 years old by encouraging me to raise and sell Beagles. She stood quietly by me when I sold my first drawing of woman’s face to a local businessman from Presque Isle, Maine. He asked me how much I wanted for it and I replied, “$10.” Next, he said, “I will give you $5.” Emphatically and without hesitation, I said, “NO!” Immediately, he gave me the $10. My mom did not say a word, but I could see how proud she was of me for standing firmly on what I believed.
When I was a child, I wrote poetry for my mother. I saw how much she loved reading what I wrote. Thinking that I was an artist at an early age, I painted for her admiring eyes. She displayed all of my artwork so that family, friends and all of her customers could see them, too.
Although my mother had some serious flaws, I choose to concentrate on the positive influences that she had on me. She became spiritual late in life and expressed sorrow for the errors of her earlier ways. God used her to teach me many things, one of which is to always be sure of what I believed to be right and to express these beliefs with confidence. The greatest bond that I ever had with my mother was the practice of praying together – when I was a child and then, later in her life when I could sense that she meant every word she said. She came to God like a child – believing with all of her heart. My mother went to be with our Lord at age 91 in 2007.
The influence that some people have on our lives is immeasurable. We all have such a great potential to love – I feel as though I am just scratching the surface of it. But I know – the more I depend on God – the more I will be able to express it in everyway. I thank God for using my mom to show me unconditional Love and for those people who choose to express love to me today.