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South Texas Living

Painter of hope, happiness, refuge

Painter  of hope, happiness, refuge
Artist Mikki Senkarik of Floresville records the buyer of each of her paintings, keeping the information in notebooks containing photos of the artworks, to maintain contact with the buyers.

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Pascalle Bippert
WCN Correspondent
June 20, 2012
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Refuge. I felt safe. Like the ducks that enjoy the refuge of Senkarik pond, the sense of happiness, well-being, and safety washed over me as I visited with Mikki Senkarik, prolific artist who lives in Wilson County.

Mikki earned her master’s degree in medical school and was a medical illustrator before becoming an artist. She illustrated 47 medical textbooks and was awarded the Illustrated Medical Book Award of Excellence five times. Her books were read and studied all over the world; even in Vietnam, doctors could look at her illustrations and know how a bone broke in a child’s arm when he fell off a bicycle.

Broken things

Mikki is a survivor. She suffered abuse as a child and is a cancer survivor.

While enduring an abusive marriage, she met Jack White, the Official Texas State Artist (1976). He walked over to a table where Mikki was displaying her pencil drawings and told her two things, that she was very talented and that she was a very sick lady. Mikki was taken aback, but intrigued that someone would care about her.

Jack told her friends that he wanted to offer her a way out of her tortured existence, and their friendship began. Later, after she left her abusive marriage, she and Jack became soul mates and traveled the world together.

Mikki had always had a love of horses, so that is what she started painting. Jack taught her to paint and helped her market those pieces. They were also published in every major magazine featuring horses.

Then one day, Jack was in a car accident that left his painting arm and shoulder unusable. He began to paint with his left hand. His “gauchër” (left, in French) paintings were full of whimsy and color. Mikki liked what she saw and, under Jack’s tutelage, she began to paint the colorful, flowery scenes she paints today.

Something new

An art gallery called about her horse paintings, saying some customers wanted to see more of her art. Mikki said she had recently shipped an artwork, not telling her it was a colorful, flowery scene. The customers went to lunch and returned that afternoon because the new painting had arrived. The crate was opened to reveal Mikki’s first “Billboard of Happiness” painting, as her new works have been nicknamed lovingly; the painting sold on the spot.

Her success has been nothing short of phenomenal. To date, Mikki has sold more than $3 million of her works. She keeps no more than seven or eight paintings in a gallery at a time. She has a whiteboard containing photographs of each painting currently hanging in every gallery in which her art is displayed for sale. Once a painting is sold, Mikki records the buyer’s name and contact information on the back of the picture, so she can maintain contact with them.

Mikki has a closet full of notebooks containing photographs taken on the worldwide travels she and Jack have enjoyed. These help inspire her when creating a new masterpiece.

Full of life

When looking at a Senkarik painting, the viewer’s eyes dance over the landscape and bounce happily from one subject to another. The wonderfully cheerful reds, the peaceful blues, the dazzling yellow and restful lavenders all comprise a happy feeling in each painting. Sometimes a barn from one photograph will be in the same painting as sunflowers from another photograph and a creek from yet another.

In addition to her thousands of photographs of flowers and landscapes, Mikki’s house is surrounded by a profusion of flowering plants -- vibrant red poppies, swaying purple salvia, unique thornless pink roses. She said that she can’t resist them. Perhaps those roses are symbolic. Here is beauty in her life, which no longer holds pain for her.

Encouraging others

Mikki wants other artists to succeed as she has. Her husband has written seven books about how artists can promote themselves and become successful. Mikki also shares her knowledge and experience and encourages other artists.

She posts a blog on the Internet and features her paintings from sketch to completion. Mikki paints as many as four or five paintings a week. Her husband is very proud of the fact that as many as 4,000 people from all over the world read Mikki’s blog every day. From Texas to South Africa, people see her art and are inspired by it.

View her artwork and admire her unique style at www.senkarik.com.

Open doors

A friend told her they noticed in the beginning that her paintings had doors or windows or gates in them, but they were shut. Later, those gates and doors were cracked open a little. Now, those doors are wide open in her paintings, beckoning the eye to look beyond the door into an open vista of loveliness -- quite like Mikki’s life.

As my interview drew to a close, we sat on her porch looking out at a vista of blooms, wild ducks, cardinals, mockingbirds, roses, and hummingbirds. Life was in full action around us and Mikki is a huge part of that life. She gives to others the life that is in her soul. Her paintings offer hope and happiness.

We are privileged to witness her art; we are blessed to know her.

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