Layers of art: Culture mixes with commerce as artist displays at Olive (PHOTOS)

Laura Hall, Under the Radar
A close-up look at the palette knife being used to create Sunflowers Gone Wild.

Kathleen Schumacher is self assured and ever cognizant of the hues of the world that swirl around in her professional brain.  This artist appears calm and collected as layer after layer of explosive color continues to build on her canvas.

Sunday, Dec. 15from 5 to 8 p.m., you will be able to meet this celebrated artist at Olive, located behind Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Destin. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon looking over a collection of textured knife oil paintings by the “People’s Choice Award” winner of the 2013 Destin Festival of the Arts.

 Dar Zook, owner of Olive, will have all of her exotic, flavored oils and Balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy, available for your tasting. The high quality extra virgin olive oil arrives at Olive from all over the world. How about a taste of Wild Mushroom and Sage, Blood Orange or Chipotle? The Balsamic vinegars are equally difficult to pick out a favorite. Just for starters how about Grapefruit, Lemon, Blackberry Ginger or my favorite, Cinnamon Pear?

Kathleen said she needed a place to show her work as she is not associated with any gallery. Dar offered her store as a gallery and what a perfect fit! Above all the containers of oils and vinegars, stood soft green, open wall space just begging to be filled. Kathleen said her art work fit in so well she felt like Dar had commissioned her to do this just for her shop.

Kathleen has a thriving art business doing pet portraits, all done in oil. Because she paints for customers nationwide, these portraits are done from photos. When she receives a commission from a local customer, Kathleen prefers to visit with the dog or cat to sense its personality, which she strives to capture in her paintings. For a closer look into this world go to

As a military spouse, Uncle Sam chooses the place Kathleen calls home. While in Niceville the first time, she began to dabble into the world of painting. Orders took her family to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where her passion for painting took on new dimensions and took off like a wildfire. It has never simmered down. 

“New Mexico offers the most perfect light for painting; there are lots of other artists here and the community focuses on the arts,” she said. “My three years in Albuquerque gave me a chance to learn techniques from so many artistic masters. I had some of the best instructors in the world.”

Kathleen returned to Okaloosa County a year ago, and had no idea the Emerald Coast would heap so many accolades on her textured oil paintings.

“What a surprise and wonderful ride this has been for me,” she said.

This textured work is a cross between painting and sculpting. She always use oil in her work because of the richness of the oil colors. I ask how this type of art work develops. 

“When I start a textured painting, a plan is in my head. I know where I want the viewers eyes to focus,” she says. “Next, I become acutely aware of my light source, where it is coming from as it goes across the canvas. Then I think of values (light and dark), the proper hue and the use of complimentary colors.” 

She does all of this before she even picks up the palette knife. 

“Beginning with the focal point, I work on that until I am satisfied and then move on to the background,” she said. “I allocate a huge amount of paint as I build up the layers. This type of three dimensional art takes 20 times more paint than a traditional brush painting. I know I am finished when I can step back and find it all pleasing to the eye. The last step is when I sign my name.”

Kathy has a saying, “If you find your passion, you’ll never work another day in your life!”

View her art work at Olive and

Laura Hall is a long time Destin resident. She writes about gardens and other local topics with her dog Annie. Got a good topic? Contact her at