Hailing from Happy, Texas (the Town Without a Frown), Vicki Todd is a largely self-taught artist. Her fascination with art began in her Grandmother’s china shop and painting classes taught in her home attic. Todd’s Grandmother encouraged her to sit in during the classes and paint china pieces along with the adult students. At the age of 6, Todd announced that she wanted to be an artist during the question-and-answer portion of the Little Miss Happy beauty contest, which she participated in and won – a memory she recalls through her mother’s telling of the story. However, art became a part-time hobby pushed to life’s back burner.
Todd ended up living a double life. She earned a doctorate degree and taught public relations for 17 years at the university level. However, her dirty little secret was that really she was an artist at heart. She tried to live two existences, creating her art at night and any free weekends she could sneak in, but it just wasn’t enough time to explore her passion. So, she put her octogenarian mother into shock by resigning from her tenured professor position to follow her bliss of art.
After teaching in Connecticut and hosting a radio show called Unstuck JOY! The Art of Living on Purpose in Washington State, Todd now resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is focusing on her artwork full time. In 2022 she performed a one-woman show she authored called Shine Happy Shine!, which incorporates her vivid body print artworks and expressive fairytale mask sculptures. She is inspired by the emotion and flowing energy of the female face and figure, vivid contemporary color palettes, and floral motifs.
I am a memoir artist and sculptor.
I hand-build expressive female figures from clay, each imbued with a story to tell.
Clay coils or slabs are the basis for my sculptures. When forming a figure’s stance, I attempt to give each one her own voice and spirit through the body pose, hand and foot placement, a lifted finger or toe, and facial expression. The clay beings project determination, joy, peacefulness, or wistfulness. At times, the sculptures have a mind of their own and tell me who they desire to be. Sometimes their characters and messages are not revealed until the last bit of paint has been added, and I step back to access from a distance.
Most of the sculptures include a floral theme, symbolizing evolution, self-growth and transformation. These themes emerge as sculpted clay flower stalks arising from the crowns of heads or flowering vines twining around arms, legs or torsos. Or, I free-hand paint flowering vines, female muse faces, or quotes onto the sculptures’ skin, similar to colorful tattoos.
My sculptures are made from sturdy mid/high-fire clay bodies, ranging in color from smoother whites to grittier yellow wheat. Some pieces are fired only once, slowly taking the sculpture from raw clay to cone 4 in one kiln session. I decorate these sculptures with layer upon layer of colorful acrylic paints, which allows for more detailed painting techniques similar to painting on a canvas. For other pieces, I use two firing sessions and paint them with color-saturated underglazes, as well as translucent and satin overglazes, giving those figures a watercolor essence and a mix of glossy and slight sheen finishes.
In addition to my clay sculptures, I paint expressive female portraits and figures on canvas. I’m interested in exploring how a common theme, such as flowering vines or the inclusion of quotes, expresses and mirrors itself through the 3D dimensions of clay, as well as on the 2D surface of a canvas.