Acrylic and mixed media artist Brenda Baker got her first set of paint-by-numbers from her aunt for Christmas when she was 10 or 11 years old.
On purpose, she did not stay in the lines.
She painted the scene differently than it was outlined and used the remaining paints to try her hand at her own work of art.
Art was a mandatory part of school curriculums from kindergarten through tenth grade.
"Knowing the general principles of art is like a good math problem," Baker said. "It's not just color and subject, it's how a work is composed."
Baker pursued her love of art at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind. in 1969.
"Art majors key in on one area where art education majors take classes in two and three dimensional art -- painting, drawing, printmaking, pottery," Baker said.
"I don't think an artist needs college to make a living, it just depends on how creative you are," Baker said.
Upon graduation she made her living as a technical illustrator for Magnavox's Government and Industrial Products division as well a taking freelance commissions from clients.
She also taught and continues to teach art to private students.
Serigraphs, limited run silk screen prints, were her medium of choice in the 1970s. They were an uncommon art form, she said.
Each serigraph picture is made from a series of silk screens that the different colors of paint are hand-pulled through.
Close registration is a necessity.
Sometimes she would draw over the top of the serigraph in pen and ink, giving the picture dimension and creating something altogether different.
Baker ruptured a disk in her back in 1981. Although her injury made it too painful to pull ink across the screen she refused to give up her art and moved to acrylics.
A recent painting titled, "Coming Back" is a non-objective piece exploring the blues, purples and reds Baker wanted to use.
"After I started putting my sprays on (the canvas) it gave me an idea for how it would turn out," she said. "That it would be materials in the air dropping back down to earth. That's where the title comes from."
Along with Baker's artistic skill, her business acumen has kept her freelancing for more than 30 years.
"Right now, the (Artists of the Rim) Gallery is a priority," Baker said.
It's been a few weeks since she has had the time to pick up a brush.
Fortunately, Baker is prolific.
Her paintings, along with the work of potters Alan and Carole Snyder are featured at the Oct. 7 reception at Artists of the Rim Gallery.
Name: Brenda Baker
Award most proud of: Two ribbons in the Payson Art League's show. One for an ink on ink piece and one that surprised her, for a non-objective painting "Flight."
One current technique: Applying the backgrounds by spraying it on and then coming back and painting acrylics over the top. People are the only subject she hasn't yet tried with this technique.
Inspiration: Blank canvases.
Advice to aspiring artists: Experiment with techniques, papers, canvases and subjects.
Favorite author: Tom Clancy
Why Payson: Family and the weather is better here than northeast Indiana lake country.
Points of contact: Artists of the Rim Gallery (928) 472-1159 or (928 474-8658 for commissioned artwork.