By Maddie Lipe
Tucked away in the hills of the small community named Mabel, North Carolina, is Mabel Studios, home to fine art and interior design services.
In the foyer, the walls are home to numerous oil paintings, ranging from lighter pastel landscapes to primary-colored works of human interests and pastimes.
Between a skateboarder, a trip to Yellowstone, a hike up the ski slopes, and a motorcyclist taking off at the beginning of a race, artist Kim Fueling captures many of life’s adventures on wooden panels.
“I grew up in Indiana and loved art and design my whole life. I always was creative and wanted to make things with my hands,” Fueling said. “I really was determined to do fine art.”
With the help of her husband Paul Fueling, Kim Fueling was able to start Mabel Studios Woodworking and Fine Art to cater to those looking for new additions to their living space.
The couple met at John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana, and decided to move to the High Country after they graduated from college because of their love for rock climbing.
Kim Fueling said she fell in love with the High Country because of all the area offers. “There’s a lot of artists up here, there’s a lot of music, there’s a lot of people that love this creative lifestyle,” Fueling said.
Along with her Mabel Studios work, Kim Fueling is also an interior designer for Common Good Interiors along with Melina LaV Daniels.
Among Fueling’s talents and trades, one thing remains the goal, “making spaces beautiful,” and her oil paintings contribute to that goal.
Many of Fueling’s pieces of artwork are inspired by the landscapes throughout the High Country. One painting featured a friend’s 100-acre farm and is inspired by many old rural homesteads in the area.
“It is gorgeous and all this rolling pasture land with pops of forest in between,” Fueling said when she described the piece.
The piece reminds Fueling of summer and being outside on “those joyful days and working outdoors.”
“The fact that we’re pretty much in the forest is amazing,” Fueling said.
One technique Fueling uses to add more depth to her paintings is the use of geometric shapes. “I love building layers and textures and so that’s one way for me to do that,” Fueling said.
“My favorite part of making art is the drawing aspect and creating those compositions in the image-making,” Fueling said. “That just adds this other level to it that I get to play with and it always changes as the piece evolves.”
Another piece from Fueling’s latest collection of oil paintings focuses on a skateboarder, with a half pipe on one side and a neon arrow pattern on the left side of the skateboarder.
The bright colors used in the painting were intentional. “I wanted this to feel like those bright, sunny days when the sun’s hitting and everything’s rhythmic,” Fueling said.
Color and light are Fueling’s main inspirations when it comes to the artwork she creates. “Because of the way that those things make you feel and what makes something beautiful, I’m just trying to highlight and edit down those things,” Fueling said.
Fueling uses oil paint on birch plywood panels because the wood is a higher grade and less porous than other types of wood. Fueling said she enjoys using wood because of the drawing process before the paint goes on.
“The graphite on those panels is just pleasing to me, and I like building off of that,” Fueling said.
To use the grain of the wood as part of her work, Fueling said she usually skips priming and lets the oil paint soak into the wood.
Currently, a few of Fueling’s paintings can be found at Common Good Co.’s gallery on King Street, but more will be added to the gallery for Fueling’s show that opens May 5, as part of the art crawl.
“I ended up doing something a little different and the show title is “Fun and Games,” Fueling said.
The theme focuses on people doing fun things in their lives, whether it’s sporting events or leisure activities.
“It’s been a challenge for me because normally I do landscapes, more vast imagery, so I really focused on more figures here,” Fueling said.
Fueling said the process has been fun and she hopes people will respond to the “little more light-hearted feel,” that focuses on the fun things in life.
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