If you’ve seen a lady with bright pink shoes carrying art supplies on McPherson’s Main Street — that’s Peggy Harkins, looking for inspiration.
The Crystal Springs, Miss., native has created more than 12 paintings of the people and places of McPherson since arriving with her husband, Larry, in Kansas. The couple are making their home here while he completes a construction project at the McPherson Airport.
Harkins said her aunt worried she would be bored in Kansas, but Harkins said she has been the opposite.
“I have had so much fun here. We went and saw the Addam’s Family musical at the Opera House. That was wonderful. We travel almost every weekend somewhere as well,” she said.
She said she loves the sidewalks on McPherson’s Main Street and its older homes — some of which have inspired her art.
“In the evening, my husband and I just stroll the sidewalks and the houses are just beautiful — they’re all different. I think I have been down every street here. I thought about doing paintings of some houses, but I think I’m better at portraits and animals rather than houses,” she said.
The bulldog at The Rare Find Antiques and Collectibles on 218 N. Main St. is among her favorite subjects so far.
“That dog just has so much personality,” she said. “I walked in there one day and I told the owner, ‘He looks so bored with all this beautiful artwork around him.’ So I painted the dog and of course had the Mona Lisa behind him, too.”
Harkins has also painted the McPherson Opera House, a Kansas storm, classic cars cruising down Main Street, a man riding a bike in a Panda suit, and Uncle Sam otherwise known as ‘Doyle Davidson’ who is their landlord.
And of course, Neighbor’s Cafe.
“We try to go there on Saturday mornings, but everyone loves Neighbor’s so I’m doing a larger acrylic painting of that one right now,” she said. “The guy in the bear suit, he’s been riding around town. One night we were out sitting on Main Street and I saw him in front of the Odd Fellows building. He’s an odd fellow too, so I labeled his drawing Odd Fellow.”
She says her husband told her when they moved here that he would be gone all day at work. Harkins learned she would need to walk everywhere, so she bought herself some bright pink walking shoes.
“I tried on every pair of shoes in that store and the ones I ended up buying were bright pink and they were the most comfortable,” she said. “I get compliments when I’m out on Main Street painting and everyone’s told me, ‘Oh I love your shoes.’”
Harkins labels her paintings with the pair of bright sneakers. She calls them — her “traveling shoes.”
Harkins designed ads for more than 25 years before taking up painting.
“I grew up painting and drawing when I was young and I received my degree in commercial art. I graduated college in 1973 and then I worked for an advertising company for a long time,” she said.
Along with designing ads, painting and drawing, Harkins said she has completed other works of art as well.
“I’ve done murals, stained windows, faux finishes — I did everything in art to make money in art,” she said.
Now that she is acquainted with McPherson, she said she hopes to continue painting the town.
“I love to draw people and animals. Who knows where I’ll be next to paint something?” she said.
Contact Brooke Haas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.