Oak Park Artist Tiffany Pugmire Takes Requests, Spreads Joy with Chalk and Oil
(Drew Saunders, May 10, 2020)
Oak Park, MI – Getting through the coronavirus is a struggle for a laundry list of reasons – anxiety, depression, economic burdens, uncertainty. But for at least one Oak Park artist, the extreme changes in emotion that people across the world are feeling because of this public health and economic disaster is part of what fuels her artwork.
“I paint when I need to and I do it for my emotions, to stabilize my wellbeing,” Tiffany Pugmire said.
While she doesn’t see herself as a professional artist – despite having sold art earlier in life – Pugmire realized that oil painting on wooden boards was the medium that initially resonated with her during an art class that she took back in 2013. Light and shadow play a central role in her artwork. Simple household objects, fruits and vegetables, and even her pets come alive in a style that blends impressionism and realism in an almost dreamlike way.
Pugmire recently ran out of steam with oil painting while spending time at home inside during the pandemic. She eventually switched to painting on sidewalks with chalk, which proved to be a wonderfully satisfying medium – right up until the moment when she ran out of chalk.
Unable to buy chalk in the store, she asked for donations on Facebook, and in exchange, she promised to turn a square of sidewalk in front of their house into a canvas.
Several people have taken Pugmire up on the offer. Sometimes the donors will simply tell her to sketch anything she wants, but she will also oblige requests for a certain painting subject, or a painting in the style of a particular artist.
One of the people who reached out was Oak Park Mayor Marian McClellan. She had Pugmire sketch one of Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflowers, an homage to 40 beds of sunflowers that the city recently had planted around town.
“She came over and worked for hours turning my sidewalk into a piece of art that people stopped and carefully walked around as they went by. It raised the spirits of all who saw it in person, and when I posted it on Facebook,” the Mayor said.
She called Pugmire an Oak Park COVID heroine “for using her considerable artistic talent to cheer and inspire others.”
The artwork doesn’t stop there. Pugmire has also salvaged old pieces of wood into furniture, turning discarded pieces of wood into end tables and other pieces. When it was too rainy to take her chalk to the sidewalk, Pugmire took old 30 old window panes that were in her basement and arranged them into the dirt of her back yard, to create a sort of fence sculpture in her fledgling garden. It’s an experiment Pugmire described as “Kind of weird, but kind of cool at the same time.”
Check out more of Pugmire’s work at https://www.facebook.com/tiffany.a.pugmire.