Volume 4 of Monday Morning Motivation is a special interview. This week, I have the opportunity to highlight my father-in-law, Ken Wagle. Ken is an artist that is incredibly skilled in numerous media, including painting, sculpture, scrimshaw, air brush, and drawing (both pen/paper and digital), among others. He is always found with a sketchbook or iPad in hand drawing Santas, wildlife, or ships. More of Ken's work can be found on Facebook at StudioWagle.
Tell me a little about your background...Who you are; what made you interested in Art?
I’m a lifelong Pittsburgher. I’ve been married to my wife Kathy for almost 50 years. We have four married daughters in the Pittsburgh area and five grandchildren.
My earliest art memory is from kindergarten. At Thanksgiving, the teacher took the class on a tour of the other classrooms to see the decorations. The first room had a huge turkey in colored chalk that took up the entire blackboard. It impressed me so much that, from then on art was my favorite class, and I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.
In third grade I had scarlet fever and was quarantined for 30 days. The day before we had gotten our first TV. On one of the channels was Jon Negey, an artist who gave art lessons every day. I would lie on the floor in front of the TV and draw along with Jon Negey, then practice what I had learned until the next show. I learned a lot about drawing that month. In sixth grade I attended Carnegie Museum Saturday art classes.
In junior high I had a fantastic art teacher that encouraged me to paint and enter the Scholastic Art Competition held every year at Kaufmann’s Department Store, where I won several first places. In high school I continued art classes and was in charge of the Stage Crew and Decorating Club which painted set for plays. After graduation, I went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where I studied commercial art and later taught for two years.
When I graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, I was hired by McGraw-Hill Publishing and then Westinghouse Electric Corporation, where I was manager of Desktop Publishing R&D for thirty five years.
I am currently retired and operate studioWagle in the Bethel Park Historical Society Schoolhouse in Bethel Park, PA.
Who are your current art inspirations and how do they affect your artistic process?
I have always been interested in Wildlife illustration. One of my favorite wildlife artists is Robert Bateman. I attended a Master Class taught by him at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Some of the other artists who inspire me are: Klimt, Monet, Van Gogh, Norman Rockwell, Howard Pyle, N.C.Wyeth, and Iain McCaig. I study all of these artists' works to see how they go about doing their art using color, composition, style, process, etc.
Why do you prefer to work with all the various media you use? And do you have a favorite?
It’s difficult to choose a favorite media. I get a lot of satisfaction exploring, experimenting, and trying new things. It’s all about the journey. Scrimshaw and sketching are the most relaxing. I enjoy painting in oils, acrylics, watercolors, and gouache. I’m also an airbrush artist, sculptor and wood carver. Variety is the spice of life.
What are your thoughts on the art community in your area?
I belong to South Arts, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Watercolor Society, and Society of Sculptors. There are many galleries in Pittsburgh, but not so many in the South Hills other than Artsmiths of Pittsburgh which is an amazing venue for local artists to sell their creations. Artsmiths occupies two floors, retail space and a cafe on the first floor. The lower level has a gallery space, rooms for meetings and classes.
How did your children change your life, both personally/professionally and as an artist?
Getting married and having children is the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s a joy to see them grow up and get married. They gave us five wonderful grand kids. Who could ask for anything more?
They keep me grounded and it’s amazing to see the world through their eyes. They have helped me in my studio setting it up, hanging paintings, pricing and selling my art. Most of all their never ending encouragement.
How have they been involved in your art?
They inspire me and often give me constructive criticism. I enjoy creating art for them.
How has your background as an artist affected your children? Do you think having an artist dad helps inspire their creativity?
All of them have inherited some art talent. They are all creative and have a good sense of color and design. Kate went to Cleveland Institute of Art and has a degree in Fiber Art. She is the Creative Director for Artsmiths of Pittsburgh. Kristin loves to knit. Kelly loves to paint. Keary teaches art as part of her curriculum for students who have special needs. They all use art and creativity to make their homes attractive for family and friends.
I would like to thank Ken for taking the time to participate in this interview. His artistic abilities and love of the arts have influenced a lot of people, including my wife, my children, and myself. Please show Ken some love by checking out his StudioWagle Facebook page.
Is there a parent who is an artist you know who could provide us some Monday morning motivation? If so, please send me their name and a link to their work (or social media account) to LunchNoteSketch@gmail.com. I would love to feature him/her.