Sibyle Gill Kitch sees pictures in her mind. Then, she sketches them on canvas and executes them in vivid acrylic paints so other people can see them, too.

Visitors looking at her paintings are often intrigued by the finely drawn houses and other images depicted among the boldly stroked landscapes and clouds on some of her pieces. Kitch has a secret to her technique she doesn’t mind sharing — decoupage!

“I cut the pictures out of magazines and greeting cards and glue them onto the canvas. Then, I can add the settings for them with my paints — put my own touch on them. I paint a lot, and give them away about as fast as I paint them,” she said. “I like painting scenery. And flowers.”

Kitch is this month’s Duncan Art Guild featured artist, and she’s not your average painter. The artist will be 95 this year.

She was born Sept. 24, 1911, east of Ryan. When she was young, her parents moved to the Waurika area, where she finished her schooling. She came to Duncan in 1932 when her first husband, Floyd Gill, went to work for Halliburton. The couple had two daughters: Yvonna Messersmith and Jeanette Brown.

“I had four grandchildren, then they married and I had eight. Then they went to having babies, and pretty soon, there were a lot of us. There are 14 five-generation groups living in the family now,” she said.

The Gills organized a travel trailer club, Duncan Happy Travelers, and they and their friends spent many days on the road, visiting Texas, Colorado and other states.

Gill died in 1976, after the couple had been married 43 years. A couple of years later, she married Melvin Kitch, who had been introduced to her by a relative of her first husband. They, too, spent many happy times before his death in 1989.

“I had two good men. They were different, but they were both good men,” she said.

During the years, Sibyle Kitch lived in the Lake Texhoma area for 12 years before returning to Duncan. Five years ago, she moved to Country Club Care Nursing Home, where she enjoys sharing her art with the nurses and other employees.

She took her first art lessons in 1964 from Imogene Scott, then went on to perfect her style on her own. She has painted more than 200 canvases and often executes two paintings in one day when the inspiration hits her.

“I painted in Taos, N.M. I love the colors there. I won an honorable mention in an art show in Lake City, Colo. A man offered me $100 for a picture he saw me painting. It was the only one I ever sold. We wound up settling for $70 for it because he wanted it framed, and I didn’t want to mess with that. Framing is expensive!” she said.

Now, she simply signs and dates the back of her unframed paintings and adds the name of the person to whom she’s promised it. She also makes notes of where she got the idea for the subject and other interesting bits of trivia relating to her work, making the piece not only a special gift, but also a personalized treasure for the recipient.

Kitch has always been active. She once did a lot of volunteer work with what was then the Gray Ladies organization in hospitals, working with the rationing board during World War II, and serving as president of the Emerson Elementary School PTA when her daughters were in school. In addition, to her art, she enjoys playing bridge and visits from her pastor, the Rev. Ron Meador, and members of her church, Bethel Assembly of God.

Although it’s not apparent to the casual visitor, some of the art on Kitch’s wall holds a hidden message. She has painted pictures of a cross, a mansion, golden steps and other religious-themed art. Attached to each painting is a label with a list of corresponding hymns: “The Old Rugged Cross,” “The Way of the Cross,” “In the Garden,” “Just Over the Hill,” etc. The assemblage actually represents plans for her funeral, and the hymns she wants sung at the event.

“I had my pastor to come see me so I could tell him. God gave me a gift. He’s kept me alive all these years and been good to me. I’ve had a good life and I’m happy. When I go, what I want is all lined out there.”

Until that time arrives, the paintings serve to brighten the present for Kitch and point to an even brighter day to come.

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