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The Blue & Gray Press | November 24, 2017

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Student artist paints as a way of life

By Sara Marron

Mary Washington transfer student turned local artist, Rachel Hicks, finds the University Cafe as an outlet to display her passion for art.

While attending Longwood University for two years, Hicks found the artistic scene not expansive enough for her goals. Fredericksburg, according to Hicks, has much more to offer.
“I got here and things were so exciting, within two weeks I had set up my own art show here at the University Café,” said Hicks.

“Longwood didn’t have many galleries,” Hicks said. “All the galleries downtown [Fredericksburg] are really nice! I was surprised, I never thought people would be so open-minded.”

Hicks said she first found art to be challenging.

“In high school, academics were easy; nothing would challenge me,” she said.

But the challenge that art presented was worth it. “I picked up art and I wasn’t good at it. That’s the only reason I stuck around.”

Hicks also works as a server at the University Café, where he art is currently on display.

“The cool thing about both having my art displayed here and working here is that if anyone has a question, I’m here to answer and explain to them.” Hicks said.

As a junior at Mary Washington, Hicks is working towards degrees in art and education. She also plans to continue selling and promoting her art.

“I don’t want to be a starving artist,” Hicks said. “I want to be able to support my dirty little hobby of art. Being a teacher would get me on my feet.”

Smiling, Hicks discusses her passion for art that has grown into a lifestyle.

“If I don’t paint or draw at least an hour a day I feel off,” Hicks said. “I get these moments when I want to paint so bad it burns. I painted one night after I got off work at midnight until 6 a.m. I had to go back to work at 7 a.m.”

Hicks uses color, cross-hatching, and mixed mediums, calling her art an expression of herself.
“I used to use strictly black and white, but recently, I will sit for an hour and a half mixing 30 colors when I only use five,” Hicks said. “People react to color, we live in color.”

Hicks refers to herself as “no Salvador Dali,” but is resolute about the time it takes to develop a single piece.

“On a drawing, I will spend eight to nine hours. When painting, I make sure I spend at least fifteen hours. There’s always something you can add on to or fix,” Hicks said.

The time it takes to create a finished product is combined with an obstinate concentration that is, according to Hicks, unyielding as well as all encompassing.

“I just get so zoned into it. You’re going to have to wave me down and I’m still not going to see you,” Hicks said.

For Hicks, art is a personal process that she describes as a way to preserve her self-expressions.
“Half of the reason I do art is with the hope that my work will outlast me,” Hicks said. “Most art, obviously, isn’t just art. It’s talking about the expression and getting it out there.”

Hicks’ pieces, ranging from oil pastels, acrylic paints, and linoleum prints, are currently on display and for sale on the back wall of the University Café.

Comments

  1. T Brooks

    Rock on Rachel! Great to hear about your enthusiasm.
    I am an alumnae and out of state.
    Any way to see Rachel’s artwork?

  2. Renee Pillor

    I really enjoyed the article ” Student Artist paints as a way of Life” by Sara Marron.
    This piece captured my attention directly from the interesting headline. Art, I found out can be a ” Way of Life.” Here a student paints daily and then after school works in the Cafe where she displays and sells her art. When buying a piece of art it’s extra special to have the artist on hand to answer any questions and to add a sentimental dimension to the experience. After reading this article, I wanted to head right over to the University Cafe to check out the art work and see if Rachel Hicks, the artist, is working!