When Anne Kibbe was a child in upstate New York, she decided to grab some fabric paint and redecorate her room.
"There were flowers and curlicues everywhere," she said.
While most parents might be a bit chagrined by such an impromptu design project, Richard and Ruth Ann Arto — along with her uncle Joe Arto, a professional artist — couldn't help but notice that their little girl had talent.
Kibbe, now 50 and a resident of San Antonio, is planning to show off her artistic flair on some different walls in August, when she hosts her first solo exhibit at the Beck Gallery in Lutz.
"Upon meeting Anne Kibbe, I was impressed by her creative enthusiasm for taking nature to a different level," said Tana Brackins, owner of the Beck Gallery. "Her vibrant palette along with her abstract imagination create a sense of delight in the viewer."
Kibbe has delighted in art since early childhood; aside from repainting her own room she designed greeting cards for family members.
"It's hard to say why I love to paint. I just do," she said. "My family thought for sure I'd become a greeting card designer."
Although she took art classes throughout school, Kibbe ultimately chose a career that she felt would offer stability and a steady income. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in public communications from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., and a master's degree in human resources development from Florida State University. She ultimately held several positions in public relations, publications and marketing. While working in public relations at Wheelock College in Boston, she received what she called "her strongest reminder" of her artistic instincts and desire to create.
"I oversaw public relations at the Towne Art Gallery, where I got to meet Maya Angelou and show her around," she said. "I planned and hosted receptions for our artists of the month, and when I saw the artwork and photos on display I wished that could be me."
After moving to Florida 21 years ago, Kibbe felt further inspired by her tropical surroundings. As she settled into a job as a director of the Center for Professional Development at Saint Leo University and a new home with husband Curt Kibbe in San Antonio, she also settled back into her favorite hobby: creating acrylics and watercolor paintings of lush tropical scenes. Her husband built an art studio for her on the second floor of their cottage.
"Painting is my oasis from stress, my chance to shut out the rest of the world. In these colors I find emotions," she said. "I like to explore different techniques. Like an author creates a new world in their books, I can create a new world at my easel."
This spring, Kibbe's lifelong hobby became a second profession.
Pasco educator and musician Dennis Devine, coordinator of the San Ann Artisans Spring Wine and Art Festival and a friend of Kibbe's, invited her to show her art in his May show. Jill Barber at Cypress Point Community Church in Wesley Chapel also took a liking to Kibbe's work, calling it colorful and positive. She offered her a spot in the church's June art exhibit.
"I don't paint for the money. It's a creative gift," she said. "But when I get these opportunities to show my work, it tells me I'm on the right path."
It was at the Cypress Point exhibit that Kibbe doled out some artistic inspiration of her own. When a guest saw her work and heard her story, she said that she was inspired to renew her long-held interest in creating art.
"If I can show people the talent God gave me and inspire one other person to do the same," she said, "then that makes it all worthwhile."