Art display shows how sketches evolve into larger works of art

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of charcoal drawing of shore birds.

"On the Shore" by Dave Middleton

KALAMAZOO—A new exhibit at the Western Michigan University College of Health and Human Services shows how a simple sketch can evolve into a full-fledged work of art.

In the show, titled "From Sketch to Studio," artists Helen Kleczynski and Dave Middleton demonstrate how journal sketches and writings often inspire their creation of larger works. The show is on exhibit in the college's second floor art gallery, with their journal entries displayed next to the larger works they inspired.

Both artists look to nature and interactions with life for their subject matter, but their representations of those subjects are distinctive.

The artists

Middleton is compelled by light and dark patterns in life and uses monochromatic media such as charcoal, ink and graphite. His current works are black on white paper, with the lightest portions of a drawing being the untouched paper. He will spend months on studies from life and photographs, working out compositional and different value zones.

Photo of painting of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

"Sleeping Bear Dune" by Helen Kleczynski

Kleczynski frequently sketches outdoors in a watercolor journal and creates her larger works indoors, working primarily in pastels. Painting helps her appreciate the world around her, both natural and human-made. Trained in architecture, her subjects include structures—from the Pantheon in Rome to a timber-framed barn in Michigan. When she paints, she hopes to share an experience with the viewer, the physical appearance of a subject as well as its mystery and spirit.

Both artists work out of Helen's Art House, an old farm house near Vicksburg that serves as Kleczynski's working studio, a nurturing environment for students of all levels and ages and a place to display works of art.

"Every artist needs a place away from the chaos of life to relax and to call home, to spread out all of their paints and paper and just create art," says Kleczynski.

Helen's Art House provides that for her and others and is open to the public from 1 to 5 p.m. each Wednesday. To learn more about the artists and Helen's Art House, visit

Show dates, hours

"From Sketch to Studio" will be on display until Aug. 30 and can be viewed by the public from 7:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

For more information, contact Gay Walker, program coordinator for the college's Holistic Health Program, at (269) 387-3839 or