Born and raised in Bethany Beach, Delaware, artist Laura Hickman draws inspiration from the town she loves.
Laura Hickman was born on 5th Street in Bethany Beach. Her parents and especially her grandmother incouraged her to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.
When she was a child her parents got her a chalkboard. “All I did was draw on it and I would erase it and draw on it again. That was my fantasy world, that is where I expressed myself,” Hickman said.
She knew she was going to study art and was encouraged by teachers, her parents and especially her grandmother. “My grandmother- at I guess age 55 or 60- started taking up art classes,” Hickman said. Her grandmother was a member of the Rehoboth Art League and would bring Hickman to classes and shows with her. “I remember seeing the jars with paint brushes and I loved looking at her artwork,” she said.
While in 3rd grade, Hickman’s grandmother allowed her to do her first oil painting with her. She always encouraged Hickman to pursue her dream of being an artist. “She was a really big influence on my work,” Hickman said.
Laura works in pastels now, but she began with her degree in printmaking etching and lithography. But etchings “are very, very time consuming,” Laura says. She needed to find a different medium to work in. She discovered pastels, “which I really liked because with my etching, I had always worked from dark to light.”
Light plays a big part in her work. “Growing up on the ocean front, you have that real sense of the sun coming up and a feeling for the way the light plays upon objects and buildings especially.”
Hickman found that by starting with black or gray paper she could achieve the same results as her etchings and work with the light she was interested in. Now, she begins with more of a middle ground grey or dark grey surface. Working from hard to soft pastels and from light to dark, she layers the colors bringing out the light in her paintings. “If you put light over dark it mixes more or less. it seem to be the easiest way for me to work.”
Growing up in Bethany there was no one around during the winter months. Along with her sisters, Hickman “had that whole town to ourselves all winter long.” They would walk the alleyways and on the porches and pretend they lived in the houses.
Hickman’s father was a homebuilder, and Laura was and still is fascinated with architecture, “Especially the alleys of Bethany,” she said. “The alleys of Bethany are unique, the alleys are where the all beauty is.” She finds beauty in the grills, picnic tables, clothes lines and all the activity. The things most people would look over or not even pay attention to.
“Some people would say, why would you put in a garbage can that has fallen over or a picnic table that is losing its leg and falling over,” she said. The answer is, “It is the way things are and the way that I see it, I want to present it.”
There is more to Hickman’s work than just the visuals. “The way the lights playing, the way the birds are singing,” she said. When she was little she could hear the hum of the electric lines, and it’s those memories, not just the visuals that Laura hopes people will identify with when looking at her work.
Hickman says many people tell her that her work brings joy to them, that it takes them back to when they were younger or spent time in Bethany when they were younger. “When people tell me stories like that it makes me feel really good and it feels like my piece has a really good home.”
You can find out where Laura’s work will be when you visit her on the web.