Georgia Tech administrative manager Mechelle Kitchings

Purple Reigns on Staff Member's Palette

This year's Black History Month theme is "African Americans and the Arts." Although she doesn't consider herself an artist, Mechelle Kitchings is bringing a touch of color to the College of Computing community.

You never know when something beautiful will catch your eye. But more and more people are experiencing the phenomenon in the College of Computing building thanks to staff member Mechelle Kitchings.

Along with being a college administrative manager, Kitchings is an amateur painter whose third-floor office is bursting with attention-grabbing color.

“When I walk into Mechelle’s office, I’m always drawn to her colorful artwork,” said College of Computing Chief of Staff Tonya Peoples. “All of her beautiful pieces, plus her warm personality, make her office an inviting space to visit.”

Georgia Tech staff member Mechelle Kitchings shares one of her paintings
Mechelle Kitchings is an administrative manager in the College of Computing with a flair for painting. Kitchings started painting during a "sip and paint night" with her friends and family. Photos by Kevin Beasley/College of Computing

Kitchings has been with the college for a year and with Georgia Tech since 2001. About 10 of her brightly colored paintings adorn the New Jersey native's office walls. The paintings have a charming, folksy quality highlighted by Kitchings' vibrant palette, expressive brushstrokes, and energetic approach to her subjects.

Although she doesn't consider herself an artist, most people are surprised to learn the mother of four and grandmother of three doesn't have an arts background.

"I don't have any formal training. When my sister and a friend visited from New Jersey a few years ago, we went to a painting studio for fellowship and fun," said Kitchings. "I was hooked."

These events at local venues are known informally as "sip and paint nights." They are a popular way for friends to relax and spend time together. Usually, an instructor leads the session by introducing a subject for the evening and taking participants step-by-step through the process.

Kitchings enjoyed her first experience so much that she and her friends regularly celebrate birthdays and other occasions with an evening of painting. She and her husband have also celebrated their wedding anniversary at a "sip and paint night.”

When it comes to painting, purple reigns on Kitchings palette. She says, "I just use what makes sense for the picture, but try to incorporate purple in the scheme, if possible."

A portrait of Prince painted by Georgia Tech staff member Mechelle Kitchings
Kitchings' portrait of Prince is one of several paintings displayed in the New Jersey native's office in the College of Computing building. Photo by Kevin Beasley/College of Computing

Purple was a must for one of Kitchings' recent projects. Hanging on the wall behind her desk is a portrait of the legendary artist Prince. Kitchings used tones of purple, blue, and other colors to create a somber and moving picture of the late musician.

“I love Mechelle’s portrait of Prince,” said LaDonna Cherry, College of Computing creative services assistant director. “There’s a sadness that she’s captured with the portrait that I think is beautiful and that touches me on an emotional level.”

Whether it's painting, dance, literature, or some other avenue, the ability to create something beautiful with the power to connect and move people is artistry. This means that, although she doesn’t see herself in that way, Kitchings is an artist after all.

"People often say I'm an artist, but I don't see it. I never have confidence in my paintings," said Kitchings. "But it's truly humbling and feels good knowing others appreciate the beauty of my paintings."

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