Retiring from a fast-paced, political career as a staffer of long-serving U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) on Capitol Hill, in 1998 at age 50 Pamela Kish began to paint for pleasure.
Now 72, the Culpeper artist’s work has been sold to collectors across the nation and is one of four artists whose work is featured on pillows, coasters, vases and other household items on Dovecote Home, a decorating e-store launched in Feb. 2020.
“I would hope to inspire anyone who may have shied away from trying to paint or sing or whatever,” said Kish in a recent interview with the Star-Exponent. “I urge them to forget about the outcome and just enjoy the procedure and the experience.”
After the pandemic shut down most in-person work last spring, Kish and her husband, Dan Kish, moved into their stone house in the Boston area of Culpeper County, shutting up their abode in Washington, D.C., and making their former retreat in the country a more permanent dwelling.
From her studio there, Pamela Kish has been painting nearly every day, producing a prolific number of acrylic landscapes and nature studies. These have found increasing popularity on the art-sales websites on which Kish displays them.
When she began to paint, it was purely to have something “to help with my sanity,” Kish said.
After the fast-paced schedule she was used to, “You’ve got to have a plan, to have something to do to occupy yourself and find rewarding,” she said.
Eventually she was led to Daily Paintworks, a website where artists pay a fee to post photos of their work.
“Joining Daily Paintworks has motivated me to paint something nearly every day since I joined,” Kish said, pointing out that the $12 monthly charge is covered if you sell only one work of art per month.
“Now, working with the folks at Dovecote Home has been wonderful—they are such lovely, fun people,” Kish said. “I love that they are a very special small company, selling beautiful artwork as well as stunning home decorating items.”
The Pamela Kish Collection, which includes florals, landscapes and figures, was launched on the site in November.
“Pam creates gorgeous, joyful, masterful yet playful paintings from which we have produced a line of studio art prints and stone coasters, with more to come,” said Amanda Crames, owner of Dovecote, a business started and operated by two working moms.
“We dubbed Pam’s style ‘joyfully modern’ because it is fresh and up-to-date, but also approachable,” Crames said. “Her use of color, playful style and even her fun use of language when naming her paintings feels perfect for these challenging times.”
Crames said her focus for the business is on style, workmanship and value. The store’s stone coasters are made by hand in Philadelphia, and their pillows are sewn by a seamstress in Upstate New York. The site’s hand-formed ceramic trays are created by a ceramic artist in Dallas, Texas.
“We love working with artisans who love what they are creating and do it with great style and care,” Crames said. “We are always on the lookout for new artists doing inspiring work.”
Kish believes everyone can benefit from the creative expression involved in producing a work of art.
“I think many people have talent, and I believe everyone is capable of doing something artistic,” Kish said. “I would say if you don’t paint brilliantly, then paint badly! It’s all in the fun. Who cares how it looks or sounds in the end?”
Kish said the desire to make things is built into each of us—we naturally love beauty.
“All children are artists, they all love to create,” Kish said. “It isn’t till you get older and start listening to critics that people stop doing it.”
Kish said her three grandsons—Rocco, age 7; Alejandro, 11; and Jack, 13—visit from their home in Pennsylvania and are sometimes her painting partners.
“They are the best little artists,” Kish said. “They pop in out here now and then and help keep my work inspired and fresh.”
Kish said, coincidentally, her mother first began to paint at age 50, just like Kish.
“She had her own style painting flowers and landscapes—she had a wonderful gift,” Kish said.
Kish believes there has been a sort of renaissance of both people creating art and those collecting it since the pandemic began.
“Now when everything is so hard and depressing and worrisome, losing myself in creative expressing has been wonderful,” Kish said. “It’s a perfect escape.”
With more people spending time at home, Kish things they are more focused on making an oasis from the world.
“Zoom calls that demand a more attractive background may be driving some of it, but also I think people just find joy in beauty,” Kish said. “If I can contribute to that, I’m so glad. It’s a great second chapter to my life.”