Spotlight on  OT Artists' Vera Kent!

By JoAnn Frekot

Our "Spotlight On" artist this month is Vera Kent.   Vera joined OT Artists in January, 2023.  Here are excerpts from our conversation.

Vera, can you tell us about your start in art?  Were you an artist as a child?

I am a third generation artist.  My mother and grandmother were also artists, so I grew up with a crayon in my hand.  I grew up in Minnesota, and we moved to Sedona, Arizona when I was in high school.  I had excellent teachers, and Sedona is a beautiful place to paint and draw.  However, in high school I really focused on the study of English.  

What happened next on your artistic journey?  

After high school, with the support of my mother, I decided to become a tattoo artist.  There was no money for college.  Breaking into the field was is very competitive.  I apprenticed twice to master tattoo artists, neither of which worked out.  I let the experience kill my love of art for a while.  I moved back to Minnesota in 2016.

What did you do next?

I decided to become an auto mechanic.

Tell us more.  

After training, I worked as a B mechanic (brakes and batteries).  It's one step above being a lube mechanic.  But I couldn't stop thinking about art.  

I became a manager at the auto shop. I was still drawing and painting on the side, and was devoting my break time and down time to drawing and painting digitally, using ProCreate, working on my IPad.  But it's hard to paint at work!

About that time, a friend asked me to paint her cat, which I did.  I was posting my work on Instagram, ( and the cat portrait generated 15 requests for pet portraits.  I found myself painting more and more.  

Sounds like a turning point was imminent.

I'd found a specialty, painting pet obituaries.  I had a friend who was a veterinarian tech, who would make referrals for pet obituaries from owners whose pets had died.  At the end of 2022, I realized I'd made more than enough to get by on my side gig.  But I knew  that pet portraiture was not where my love of art lies.  

So after six years as an auto mechanic and shop manager, I was facing a decision.

Is that what made you decide to move into being a full-time artist?

That, and mostly hubris. 

How did joining OT Artists come about?

I'd been looking for a studio space to work.  On Facebook, I saw that OT Artists had a studio space opening.  So I met with Jean (Everson), Katharine (Gotham), Sallie (Malmstrom), Claire (Stokes) and Christine (Tierney) for an interview, and joined in January of 2023.

What do you love to paint?  

I love bright colors, fantasy landscapes and animals.  I work in acrylic gouache, which meets in the middle of watercolor and regular acrylic.  

I found I also love to paint pottery, which came about as a result of a happy accident.  My mom's a gardener.  One day I ran out of canvas, and looked around for a surface to paint.  I found some of her terracotta pots and, the problem was solved!

What's next for you as an artist?

I want to learn framing, and to start approaching galleries.  I want to gain some skill and experience in marketing and selling my work.

Strategically, I took a part-time job to save up some money.  I am thinking of going to art school.  

Thank you, Vera!



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