PANORAMA - A Peacock paints


Many artists struggle with understanding that effective marketing is - at the least - just as important as creating the art itself.

Virginia Peacock gets it.

At 11:15 a.m. this day, Peacock is intent on untangling and racking up hangers at Walla Walla's Goodwill Industries store.

"Virginia loves her job," said Emily Daniel, who supervises Peacock and others in the store's processing room. "She does a lot of different things."

That includes tagging clothing, books and accessories, Daniel added. "One of her favorite jobs is books."

Devoted to her work, yes, but at exactly 11:30 a.m. Peacock pulls off her blue apron and heads to the time clock to punch out.

It's time for her second job.

Choosing a jacket the color of a spring daffodil out of her locker, Peacock questions the room in general: "Is it warm out?"

With that, she gathers up a cloth art portfolio, says goodbye to several coworkers and hits the street, ready for direct marketing.

Peacock, 51, has been an artist for more than two decades, having been under the wing of a number of local art teachers, noted her mother, Rosemary Peacock.

Virginia paints nearly every day, rising from her chair once "Jeopardy" is rolling the credits and moving to a card table set up in the family dining room.

She finds inspiration for her work - most filled with whimsical animals, insects and flowers in primitive style - from nature shows on TV, her family said.

"And I paint Jesus with the angels," the artist said.

She averages four paintings a day, Peacock explained, as she filled in background around an exotic bird in full feather with a blue watercolor wash. She colors some creatures with crayon and adds paint the next day, Peacock said.

Her tools are made by Crayola and she gets her mat paper free from a couple of local galleries.

After sorting her pictures at Goodwill, Peacock stashes her best work under her arm as she walks down the sidewalk of Alder Street. She does this six days a week, rain or shine, she said.

A circuitous route brings Peacock to Sweet Basil pizzeria on First Avenue, where she sets her bag by the first table, as if it was put there for such purpose.

She first spies Alex Teeters, who is eating lunch. "Would you like to see my paintings?"

"Sure," he replies with enthusiasm.

Alex, wife Angie and daughter, Lela, 4, are from Dayton and don't know that Peacock and her work is well known in downtown Walla Walla. The trio peruses a number of giraffes, cats and butterflies.

"They have a price on them," Peacock says hopefully.

In the end, the Teeters decline to make a purchase but thank the artist for the privilege of looking things over. With that, Peacock is quickly out the door. At Aloha Sushi, Peacock tries again, approaching two young ladies who are waiting for takeout orders. With polite smiles, both tell her "Not today. Sorry."

It's enough that people look at her art, Peacock says later - her feelings are not hurt when she doesn't seal the deal with the $5 she prices each picture.

This day was unsuccessful for sales, but she'll be trying again the next afternoon, Peacock said before heading off to catch a bus.

Just as for any other artist, it's the appreciation of her patrons that's the real payoff.


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