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Her imagination flourishes with art

May 21, 2001

Her imagination flourishes with art



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY

andreabh@herald-mail.com

As the art teacher at Citicorp's Family Center in Hagerstown, Vicki Bingaman has used her artistic skills and zest for fantasy to nurture local children's creative talents.

A self-taught artist who specializes in colored pencil drawings, Bingaman has done private commissions for individuals, embroidery art and print design for children's clothing, and illustrations for newsletters, brochures and magazines.

She has been working as a professional artist for 18 years.

Bingaman's photo-realistic portraits, antique postcard figures recreated in ebony pencil with painstaking detail, and drawings of beaded and feathered Indian braves with strong, weathered faces have graced the walls of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and private collections.

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But the Hagerstown native most enjoys letting her active imagination guide her pencils because fantasy is fodder for her favorite creations, Bingaman said.

"I like to take bits and pieces from different things and mix them together," she said. "I love the starkness of black and white but I'm also attracted to color."

Fantasy and reality collide in work that is often inspired by nature and music.

Ghostly faces form swirls in knotty pine walls, and butterflies flutter into the hand-holding lovers that escape from an old woman's imagination. A mermaid gazes seductively from her blue-green underwater world. Gargoyles perch atop an ornate, activity-filled Victorian house.

Her gift of "seeing into things" to create interesting drawings that reflect depth has fueled word-of-mouth sales for Bingaman's work, she said.

Now she wants to unbridle the imaginations of kids everywhere by illustrating children's books.

"I think it's a natural avenue for me to take," Bingaman said. And her fondness for fantasy, illustrating and children is a good recipe for success as a children's book illustrator, Bingaman said.

She has spent the past four years teaching arts and crafts to children in grades 1-6 at Citicorp's school-age program. Bingaman has relished sharing her gifts and talents with youngsters, she said.

Art is a "free place for children to express themselves without any boundaries," said Bingaman, 39.

She said she sometimes places a variety of materials on a table to give her students the freedom to create without being restricted to one medium. Bingaman's students said they have also enjoyed more structured projects such as crafting homemade cards, Christmas ornaments, dinosaurs and papier-mch Easter eggs.

"I learned a lot of stuff from Miss Vicki," said Parker Blubaugh, 6.

"She taught me to draw really good and everything," Megan Harbaugh added.

Bingaman said she never set out to be a teacher, but "I enjoy sharing my gifts and talents with children - helping them nurture their creativity and imagination."

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