When the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus got progressively worse, Kim La Plant went with Plan B.
This past fall, the Hermiston woman, whose art moniker is Ozark Hippie, was sitting outside trying to decide what to do. As her physical pain increased, the La Plant knew it was time to make some changes.
“Plan A was working. Plan B was the art,” she explained. “I said, ‘I guess I’m going to go with Plan B.’”
While pondering what path to take, La Plant looked down and saw what she described as a “really cool leaf.” She had some Dollar Tree watercolors leftover from a project with kids at church and decided to pick up a brush and paint the leaf.
Her husband, Brian, was immediately taken aback at how realistic the painting was. With his encouragement, La Plant dove into her artwork
“There are times I dream a painting and if I don’t get up and paint it, I can’t sleep,” she said.
Naturally creative, La Plant has never taken formal art classes. She previously worked mostly with charcoal, acrylics, carving and woodworking, as well as re-purposing all kinds of objects. Watercolors, she said, are easier to work with and she instantly fell in love with the medium.
“I’ve always been crafty,” she said. “I can literally take something out of someone’s garbage and make something of it.”
Growing up in Arkansas in a house without running water or electricity, La Plant knows how to live simply and make the most of resources available. Initially, she continued to use inexpensive art supplies — making due with what was available.
After selling a commissioned piece, she purchased higher quality paper. In addition, a friend she had helped with some interior design work gave La Plant some higher quality paints and brushes.
“I was using the best I could get, but it was a huge difference,” she said.
La Plant is still trying to figure out her direction with her artwork. Shortly after getting into watercolors, Badder Israel, a tattoo artist from New York City who was opening a shop in Kennewick, asked La Plant to display some of her pieces in his shop’s art gallery. Instead of attending the opening show, she merely dropped off a number paintings and left.
Content to spend time in her studio — an old 1993 Bluebird school bus from the Stanfield School District — gardening or hanging out with her animals and husband, La Plant hasn’t developed a marketing plan. After repeated requests from Sheri Konningrud, La Plant finally relented and drove Plan B (the bus’s moniker) to Purple Ridge Lavender Festival. The La Plants hung out in the vendor area and sold some of her work to festival-goers.
When recently contacted by the Hermiston Public Library about displaying her work for the July exhibit, La Plant immediately said yes.
“I’ve had other people ask me to have my art places and I hesitate,” she said. “But I’m a book person. I love the library.”
It should come as no surprise that La Plant’s first inspiration to create art came after reading. With no supplies at her disposal, the 9-years-old borrowed some colored pencils from school and used an old piece of wood as a canvas. She drew a scene with a cottage after reading “The Hobbit.”
“I kind of drew what I thought it looked like,” she said.
The Hermiston Public Library is located at 235 E. Gladys Ave. It’s open Monday through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday/Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. La Plant’s work will remain on display throughout the month. An artist’s reception will be announced.
For more information about the library exhibit, call 541-567-2882. To learn more about La Plant and her work, search Facebook for “Ozark Hippie.”
La Plant previously worked as the office coordinator at the Hermiston Herald.