One could say artist Brenda Baker's career began at the kitchen table.
"I can remember as a kid sitting at a table after Mom and Dad read the paper, copying cartoons that were in the paper," she said.
Baker grew up in Indiana where art education began in kindergarten and continued into the higher grades. In high school, a student could choose among theater, art or music, but they had to choose at least one.
Baker's mom sewed clothes, and her father made diamond dies, which are used to shape electrical wires. After her brother took over the family diamond die business, Baker once worked with him, drawing the dies for advertising purposes. (She also drew the rendering for the new Humane Society Shelter in Payson.)
Much of Baker's working life helped develop the detail-oriented, precise lines she now uses to add definition to applied ink paintings.
Applied ink forgoes brush strokes. The paint is thick, with a toothpaste-like consistency. Baker slaps it on the canvas, later re-defining images with pen or black lines. The paint serves as color; the lines create the images.
In one applied ink painting, the Chicago skyline provides a background for a ship in the foreground. In another, vases of contemporary flowers take on an almost theatrical vibe by virtue of the lines that define them -- some thick and some thin.
"I started out years ago and I called them applied ink because there's no brush strokes," Baker said.
Baker's collections also consist of abstract art, non-objectified art and silk-screened works.
A diamond collection -- geometric shapes painted on a canvas that can be hung as a square or a diamond shape -- uses the same concept but different colors for four or five paintings.
The diamond collection is non-objectified art -- "Your subject is your colors, your lines, your shapes," Baker said.
This is opposed to abstract art, which imposes a solid subject on an abstract background. Baker paints those, too.
"I started out and silk-screening was going to be my medium," Baker said. But she ruptured a disc and was no longer able to make the pushing motions required, which was when she started with applied inks.
A cowboy painting called "Gramp's Last Ride" seems a more traditional, brush stroke painting. "I knew I wanted to do a desert scene with adobe buildings," Baker said.
"Why do I do art? Because I love to work with color and shape," she said. "I always have in my mind a plan of color combinations that will work."
Dabs of paint take on identities after they hit the canvas.
"I just start smearing the paint around and say, ‘That looks like a bird.'"
The bird painting uses only blacks and whites. It, too, is a diamond.