Kim Vaughter

By Clay Riness

“I was a creative kid,” she says. “I loved making my own costumes and a lot of play stuff, but it transitioned into more fine art as I got older.” She began painting in middle school.

Vaughter started college undeclared. She thought maybe she might try a career involving international relations. “After a couple of political science classes … I decided I was going to be a painter,” she admits, laughing.

“I tried going some different ways but was always called back to painting.”

She earned a BFA in painting at UW-Eau Claire followed by a second degree in graphic design at WWTC.

She admits that she tries to make art every day. While she works with pencils, pen and ink, watercolors, and oils, she prefers acrylics for her larger pieces. And large, many of them are. A typical piece measures 48 inches by 60 inches. “I wanted to create these big landscapes and universes that were very influenced by children’s books and illustrations. Another aspect is that a lot of the patterns I put in the landscapes are very inspired by fabric patterns,” she explains.

Much of her art features odd creatures and monsters. Her work is often playful by nature. “It’s so fun to me because it can be childlike while still being weird and creepy, or you can take it and make it not-so-scary,” she says.

“And the thing about monsters is that they can be anything; you can’t draw a monster wrong.”

She explains that for these large works, she often creates a lot of characters first and then tries to think of what kind of atmosphere she wants to place them in. She then does a rough sketch of the idea before drawing it to scale and filling in more detail. Finally, she transfers the work to the final canvas by recreating it there. She reckons the paintings take around 200 hours to produce.

She also creates what she refers to as her “beasties” … hand-sewn, stuffed creatures born of the same wellspring of spirited creativity. “One was the subject of a painting; then I started thinking about putting together different animal parts and it kind of escalated from there,” she says. “Betty is one my favorites. She’s a walrus-snail thing with three shells. There’s also Poe. He’s a bird that has antennae and rabbit ears. The Cursed One … he has a giraffe neck, crab legs, antlers and a duck bill.”

Not all of her work is about imaginary worlds and creatures, however. This year she submitted an original design to the Oktoberfest button design contest, and won.

Featuring a maple leaf and a toasting of two pretzels, the button advertises “Family, Friends and Fun.” Anyone attending the 56th Annual Oktoberfest this year will be wearing her art.

Vaughter was also one of 15 artists chosen by jury to create and submit an original piece for the [art]ifact Exhibition, held earlier this year at the Pump House. She titled it “The Ones Who Could Not Resist Will Be the Prettiest of All.”

For more information, contact Kim Vaughter at (715) 210-7166 or Her work can also be viewed online at

Upcoming Shows: Riverfront Arts Center, Stevens Point — Sept. 16 opening • Janet Carson Gallery, Eau Claire Regional Arts Center — Sept. 2017