Ed King wasn’t always happy with his art, but work and time took care of that. Now, he’s often, but not always, satisfied with his results.

“I remember being a little kid and maybe trying to make a raccoon out of clay and not being happy that it wasn’t very good. When I was a kid, I used to get frustrated at how clumsy my work was. I was frustrated that I couldn’t paint what was in my head,” he said.

King, who has been an art teacher at Germanna Community College for 16 years, will show some of his work that pleases him at Art First Gallery at 824 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, through Dec. 1.

King will be at the opening reception from 6–8 p.m. Friday to talk about his work, which hovers somewhere between impressionism and realism, with the occasional detour into the fantastical.

While King also works in clay—he has created fun pieces that include a dinosaur carrying a pepperoni pizza in its mouth and a dragon hatching her eggs—the exhibit features mostly paintings of animals and landscapes.

“I have a lot of domestic animals, wild animals and assorted critters,” said King, who studied art at Virginia Commonwealth University and Pratt Institute. “That’s what I like to do the best, and people seem to gravitate toward the most.”

King, who takes his inspiration from cartoons, fine art books, animal books, science fiction movies and his photography, likes to keep things light, and always has.

“I don’t gravitate toward doing negative subjects. Sometimes I get a little spooky, but I was never one of these adolescents that was doing pictures of skulls and blood and dead people and all that crap,” King said. “I did a lot of dragons when I was a teenager and I’m still doing a lot of dragons. Sometimes I like to have a bit of fun and do things that are off the wall. I like to have a good time with my work. I like fanciful things, fun things.”

King said art was a solace when he was a kid when things got to be too much for him.

“Growing up, I always used my artwork as an escape from what was going on around me that I didn’t like,” he said.

King said that since he kept his art to himself as a kid, he didn’t get too much in the way of encouragement.

“I got a little bit of feedback, but I kind of wasn’t one to show people my art much. I was kind of doing it for myself,” he said

Once he got to where he thought he was good enough, he started showing people his work.

“I did some nice things in high school,” he said. “Probably in my early teens, I started doing work that I was happy with.”

King said his work still brings him a sense of well-being.

“It calms me down and takes me to a happier place. It’s very meditative,” he said.

King believes everyone should try to create something.

“I recommend that people who aren’t even any good at it do it for the sake of being present. It feels exactly the same way as mindful meditation does,” he said.

King doesn’t think art needs to have a grand message, either.

He said sometimes it can be just for fun.

“I’m fine with people wanting to express themselves, but if they want to do a bunny rabbit just because it makes them a happy, I’m like, yeah, do a bunny rabbit. Just make a nice composition out of it.”

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