When Kathy Myrick of New Windsor sees a piece of wood it becomes a canvas.
It could be Masonite cutouts courtesy of husband Jack, wooden shaker shingles, a small boogie board, or even a ceiling fan blade — if Myrick is inspired, there’s a chance that it will find a new life.
Myrick is one of between 250 and 300 juried vendors selling their wares during the annual Catoctin Colorfest this weekend at Community Park in Thurmont. Colorfest is the fifth largest juried show on the East Coast, she said.
Myrick has been participating with Colorfest for about 26 years, with a break to raise her kids. Her friend asked her to return to sell again in 2004, and now she sells with her daughter, Amy Myrick-Van Austine.
“I haven’t quit yet,” Myrick said.
Along with being an artist, Myrick is a longtime member of the Colorfest committee as security, a member of the jury selection, and a booth checker who makes sure only juried pieces are sold at the booths.
Myrick specializes in tole and decorative painting. Although she also does jewelry and other crafts, her tole work is the main thing she will focus on during Colorfest.
“Tole started back in the 1800s. What they used to do is paint on tinware,” she said. “They would mainly paint it to make it last longer. Then they did it as decorations to make it pretty. Then they had people go from house to house to paint things. Then they got into painting walls. Now, we paint about anything.”
Painting came naturally for Myrick as she was always artistic in school. But she wasn’t introduced to tole and decorative painting until after she and Jack were married in 1971 and moved from her hometown of Thurmont to New Windsor to lessen his commute.
“And right down the road here they had a little studio and they had these little gingerbread boys. And I fell in love with them,” she said. “Finally she told me about this lady who taught classes out of her house. I went to her and took some classes. It just went from there. I’ve been painting ever since.”
Myrick taught tole and decorative painting out of her home for several years, offering three classes a week, while balancing it with her full-time job as a travel agent and earlier running a daycare.
“I had different people every night. I loved it. You make so many nice friendships and you meet so many nice people,” she said.
Myrick has since retired from both the agency and from teaching the classes but occasionally offers classes at the senior center or at her church.
But painting is something she finds so much joy in doing.
“For me, it’s very relaxing. My husband can say ‘I’m going to bed’ and it’s 11 o’clock. And I’ll say, ‘I’ll be up in a minute.’ Next thing I know it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. Once I get down there doing something I just want to do more and more and more,” she said with a laugh.
Myrick said she spends nearly a year preparing for Colorfest. She has only once sold out the first day. Colorfest regulations require that she stays there for both days, regardless. She said she returned, even though her booth was empty.
For Myrick, when it comes to her pieces, she enlists the help of her hubby. He dutifully cuts out all of her pieces for her, often working off a drawing she gives him. When it comes to some of her found items, Jack might have to modify them for her.
Although most of her work was already packed away in anticipation of Colorfest, Myrick was able to show a small collection of her work. She pulled out two black owls that were cut from Masonite, painted black and decorated with painted wooden eyes, the bellies of each are in orange with a different Halloween scene painted on each. Each piece is painted in acrylics.
The boogie board she found at a yard sale has been transformed into an orange pumpkin. Attached are several painted leaves. The piece is in her front yard.
The fan blade is painted black with the silhouette of a famous cartoon character and his faithful dog.
“Fall is my favorite to do pieces for,” she said.
Knowing that many of the items will be used outdoors, Myrick said she always puts between two and three coats of outdoor varnish.
“I like to use the thin wood so then it can hang outside the door,” she said.
She is also a stickler for details. Each piece is signed, and the entire piece is painted.
“I’m a real stickler about finishing the backs of things. I always tell my students they’ll never notice if it’s done, but they’ll notice when it’s not done. They’re not going to turn it over and say ‘oh look they finished the back,’ but if they see paint is just slopped over the back, they’ll notice that,” she said.
Myrick will also have some Christmas items. She showed a trio of Santa Clauses. Each of their shirts are made from material that she saw on a pillow. She took it home, ripped it apart and decoupaged the material to the Santas’ bodies. Along with her painting, the Santas have been embellished with buttons and small bells.
Usually when she prepares for a show, Myrick said she likes to do multiple pieces of similar pieces, but because they’re all hand painted, each piece is unique. She sells her pieces anywhere from $5 to $100.
Because she’s always on the lookout for new things to paint, Myrick credits her husband for indulging her while shopping.
“My husband is so good about taking me places. He’s an avid reader, which is great. While I’ll do my thing in the store, he’ll take his book and he’ll say ‘I’ll just sit on this bench’ or sit in the car and wait very patiently,” she said.
Those who are looking for Myrick at Colorfest should find her at booth 107 in the park. She’s right across from the information booth. She said the festival draws people from all over the United States as both vendors and shoppers alike.
And anyone who takes home a piece of Myrick’s work will also be taking home a piece of her.
“Part of me is in everything here. That’s the way I feel,” she said “When I paint something a little part of me is in each thing.”
Follow Crystal Schelle on Twitter: @crystalschelle.