A little bit of Frida Kahlo, a lot of Pam Bleakney,
The cross-body shoulder purse with a likeness of Frida Kahlo sums up Pam Bleakney before she has a chance to say “hello.”
“I probably paid too much for it, but I had to have it,” Bleakney said about her accessory.
The Ormond Beach resident of just over a year has her art on display in the entryway of the Ormond Beach Regional Library for the month of June.
Kahlo’s influence can be seen in Bleakney’s art, which also often includes her own image in her pieces and always in the same dress, but the style is all Bleakney. Her art also has a whimsical mix of realism with fantasy.
Her pen and ink drawings at the library include toads, lizards and birds. The glassed library display shows the tools she uses in her process, starting with a small art notebook where she plans her final piece down to the smallest detail in miniature to the full size 22-by-3- inch finished pieces that one can get lost in if they take the time to go on the trip.
Bleakney moved to Ormond Beach from Phoenix to be with family.
It was in Phoenix, after 3 years in the U.S. Army and an 18-year career as a civilian Army employee, that she began taking art classes at the local community college.
“I went back and did what I should have done the first time,” Bleakney said. “I studied art.”
She’s not the first to take a new direction after retirement; her mother started painting when she was in her 70s.
She works in other mediums and has her watercolors and acrylic paintings at Arts on Granada. She has returned to pen and ink after nearly 40 years.
“I painted with inks in the 1970s, but it was different,” she said. “Now it’s more detailed.”
Time isn’t an issue when she is creating and she doesn’t know how much time it takes for her to get a piece finished. That’s not what it’s about.
“Ink is a time-consuming process that is relaxing and, well, therapeutic,” she said. “I am driven to paint in Florida.”
As part of her commitment to Arts on Granada she hopes to teach watercolor in the future, but only to a specific
group – those who have never handled a paint brush.
“If you have painted at all you are too advanced,” she laughed.
Active in a juried Arizona art group and a water color association, Bleakney has adapted to her new home by becoming involved. Along with Arts on Granada, she is a member of the Art League of Daytona and the Florida Women's Art Association.
“My plan is to enjoy Florida; enjoy Ormond Beach. There is so much great stuff going on here,” she said.