Ripley painter to show dog paintings at Chautauqua

BY JENNIE GEISLER, Erie Times-News 
jennie.geisler@timesnews.com

RIPLEY, N.Y. -- A dark brown retriever's soulful eyes can melt a dog lover's heart. That even works when the dog gazes out of a painting by Patti Kalosky. In her dining-room-turned-studio, she takes small strokes with a brush, trying to "brighten" the eyes of a beloved canine in hopes that they "pop" off the image.

"Dogs are soexpressive," said Kalosky. "People feel connected to them."

She paints mostly dogsfrom photos submitted by people who buy her paintings on commission. But she also finds images in magazines, posters or "any places I find dogs."

Her paintings, whileclose-as-she-can-get images of the dogs she paints, also incorporate vibrant colors, such as in lime-green, canary-yellow or deep-purple backgrounds. Those bright hues make it into the dog images too, as in the violet she'll use for black dogs, orange for brown dogs and bright whites for huskies.

"Colors are what get me," said the former art teacher. Kalosky will display eight of her paintings, as well as postcards made from them, at the Art in the Park event at Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., on Sunday.

Passion, rekindled
Painting is Kalosky's lifelong love. She majored in it in college, graduating in 1972. She taught art for several years, including a stint at St. Gregory School in North East, but she set her art aside to raise three sons and help her husband run their Lakeside Golf Course in Ripley. Now that the boys are grown and living out West, she's thrown herself back into her art.

"I'm 61,"she said. "When you get to be this age, you kind of think 'I'd better get my (expletive) in gear and do stuff I really like.'" She started painting dogs about a year and a half ago, and named her studio Echo Bank, after the name of her grandfather's grape farm in North East, where she grew up.

Always a dog lover herself, a couple of years ago Kalosky visited with a friend and fellow artist who created images of dogs as well, though in a different way. "She was an inspiration," Kalosky said. "I thought 'Why didn't I think of this 20 years ago?' I was looking for something to focus on, and it was right in my face." She said Echo Bank has become a second career, a business that she wants to grow, but it's more than that.

"It's not just a business," she said. "I really love to do it."

Moral support

Kalosky's husbandloves her paintings, too.

"I get to see her do something she likes to do," Ken Kalosky said. "Sometimes you find a second career and sometimes it finds you. "She's enthusiastic and loves doing this for people."

He took a painting of a husky down from their living room wall to show it off. Patti Kalosky was a little embarrassed as he explained how she used bright colors to bring the image to life. Right about that time, one of Kalosky's clients visited to give his commissioned painting a final look.

For his wife's birthday, Scott McFeely had requested a painting of her dog, tennis ball in his mouth. A spring green background and dark frame offered stark contrast. "It's perfect," McFeely said. "She's going to love it."

Kalosky already knew that, because she updates clients every step of the way by sending them electronic photographs.

"I get a real kick out of the client's reaction to the art," she said. "Every single one has been so thrilled. It just makes me very happy to see the client so happy."

McFeely said he found out about Kalosky's art when he saw postcards in the golf shop. His wife, who knew about the gift, had looked forward to the updates as the piece came together.

"Now she wants a piece with her other dog that passed away," he said with a laugh.

Fulfilled

Kalosky's commissioned paintings start at $375 and go up, depending on size. The pieces come together over two to three weeks, depending on their size and how many projects she has going at one time. It takes another week for her to varnish and build the frame. She'll even wrap it -- a plus for men giving gifts, she said with a laugh -- and usually includes a set of notecards bearing the same image.

When she's doing a piece with no particular buyer in mind, Kalosky said she likes to play with dogs' facial expressions. A piece hanging on the wall in the dining room features a Doberman pinscher with its mouth open wide enough to catch a soccer ball. The husky her husband showed off seems ready to pounce, head bowed, eyes glaring and tongue hanging out.

She said she wouldn't be able to live off the money her paintings bring in, but they offer a completely different form of satisfaction.

"When I finish one, I think 'Oh, my God, I did that,'" she said. "Where did that come from?

"I really don't know. It just comes out, and I'm so glad it does."

JENNIE GEISLER can be reached at 870-1885 or by e-mail. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNgeisler.BY JENNIE GEISLER, Erie Times-News 
jennie.geisler@timesnews.com