Clovis News

Painting it forward

Carlene Kostiw stands by “Sunflowers,” her favorite piece of work, which depicts a field of sunflowers in Carmel Valley.
Carlene Kostiw stands by “Sunflowers,” her favorite piece of work, which depicts a field of sunflowers in Carmel Valley.

“Gabriella,” “Somewhere in Time” and “Caboose 192” demonstrate the beauty of subjects woven throughout the colorful life of Carlene Kostiw.

The 82-year-old artist is being recognized during “A Legacy Exhibit,” which runs through Saturday, March 10 at the Kings Art Center in Hanford. Kostiw has taught the art of 3-D watercolor to students for more than 50 years in the Central Valley.

“Over the years, I’ve been feeding a lot of knowledge and beauty into the community,” Kostiw says.

The exhibit showcases her career as a master watercolorist, but also a retrospective of work by students, including James Ardaiz, Nicholas Boghosian, Kathy Coombs, Sara Donavon, Debra Colliver, Velma Moore, Wanda Rogers, Renee Scott, Kaye Corneliuson, Barbara Serimian, Kay Tuttle and Laura Yager.

Kostiw says: “I have launched a lot of careers. I have gifted them and they have gifted me in return.

Kostiw was born and raised in Southern California.

She graduated with her B.A. in art from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, followed by Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

Kostiw also attended, but didn’t graduate from, Fresno State. She earned her teaching credential through the State of California in 1972.

She taught classes at Clovis Adult Education for 10 1/2 years before opening a private studio, Kostiw Studio, at her home in southeast Fresno.

“A lot of students wanted to continue studying with me,” Kostiw says.

Kostiw says she doesn’t follow the format of “follow the leader.” Instead, she says, “I have to educate students on the elements and principles of design.”

“You’re born with sight, but you have to earn vision,” she says.

But her success as a master watercolorist hasn’t come without tribulations. In the mid-1970s, shortly before starting the construction of Kostiw Studio, she was diagnosed with malignant melanoma — developed from a mole on her arm. The chance of survival was slim, Kostiw says, but she “made it by a hair.”

Kostiw was also diagnosed with breast cancer about seven years ago, and then she contracted methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Among her list of accomplishments, Kostiw is featured in the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

She has traveled throughout the Golden State, as well as the rest of the United States, to find subjects like the San Joaquin River. “Sunflowers,” her favorite piece of work, depicts a field of sunflowers in Carmel Valley.

She has taught workshops for more than a decade at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove and St. Mary’s Art Center in Virginia City, Nevada.

Kostiw Studio has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the backyard of her home. There are five stations circled around a table for students to work for two hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

“I have a gift,” Kostiw says. “Not only a gift to paint, but a gift to teach.”

“A Legacy Exhibit”

11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, March 7 through Friday, March 9

Noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 10

Kings Art Center, Marcellus Gallery, 605 N. Douty St., Hanford