A Lust for Life: Auburndale Artist Katie Pobjecky Molin by Donna Kelly

A Lust for Life: Auburndale Artist Katie Pobjecky Molin
By Donna Kelly

Katie Pobjecky Molin is an all or nothing kind of gal. She plays hard, loves with abandon, and paints with passion.

She knows no other way.

“When I make a commitment, I don’t back out,” she says with a grin. This applies to everything in her life – from mountain biking and art to marriage and motherhood. As a result, her work is edgy, emotion-filled, and thought provoking; and her life is rich with experiences.

Her friends describe her as bubbly, energetic and loyal. Molin describes herself as fiercely competitive, goal-oriented, and contemplative. These traits combine to generate an art portfolio with vibrant colors and often dark subject matters. Her aim is to make people think and feel.

Born to Create

The daughter of Linda and Dave Pobjecky, a retired teacher and lawyer, respectively, Molin showed a gift for art at an early age.

“I’ve had (an interest in art) since I was little,” said Molin, 38. “I’d take notebook paper and wad the sheets up and make people. I did a nativity scene at Christmas.”

She was encouraged by her mother, an avid crafter, but her first mentors were her Auburndale High School art teachers, Bill Haire and Jon Stewart. Haire allowed her to use his private stash of acrylics. “If I wanted to create something, he’d say, ‘Let’s figure out how to do it,’” Molin said.

Stewart tested her desire to do things her own way, leading her to attempt difficult projects of her own design and learning from the outcome, however unexpected.

“One time I wanted to create a helicopter. It was pretty insane what I collected,” Molin said of the objects she chose for the sculpture, including a bowling pin, golf club, steering wheel, metal gas can, and a deflated basketball.

“What I see is a flamingo,” Stewart told her, a test to determine how serious she was about the helicopter.

She held fast to her helicopter idea despite Stewart’s testing her resolve. Although the helicopter didn’t turn out as Molin had planned, she learned the importance of trying new methods and staying true to herself.

“Art was a release for me as a child,” she said.

And now she offers that same outlet for her 5-year-old daughter, Lilly. In addition to Molin’s studio, one room of their Auburndale home is dedicated to “no-holds” barred art filled with art supplies, sunshine, and wall-to-wall paint splashes.

“We are allowed to paint on the floor and paint on the walls in here,” she says with unabashed joy in her voice. “Lilly will just create. She loves to paint. ”

The sunny room includes two side-by-side easels. “We paint back here together a lot,” Molin says. “She is my reason for doing this.”

Dancers, Women, and Wisdom

The rooms in the neat, pleasant home she shares with her husband, Per, and their daughter, are filled with art Molin has created since high school and her days at Polk State College and also Florida State University. Each piece is a reflection of who she is. The focal point in her family room is an early work, titled “Autumn Leaves,” a mixed-media piece of a nude woman. On closer look, three sisters – which represent Molin and her two siblings – can be found among the leaves, splashes of color and texture created by Styrofoam popcorn. “I like things that add texture,” she says.

She’s made a sculpture of a human torso in alabaster and clay. “I had put on some weight, so I wanted the extreme opposite,” said Molin of the sinewy clay sculpture she created in college.

Although her commission work includes pastoral landscapes, pet and human portraits, still life pieces, and paintings of whimsical animals, much of her portfolio centers around women, with a particular focus on dancers.

“I have an obsession with dancers,” says Molin, who is not a dancer herself but admires the artistry. “I watch dancers. I watch their bodies. I think they’re gorgeous.”

Whether or not they are dancers, her subjects are women with a message. Usually faceless and often nude, they are inspired by her own experiences or those of her friends, but they could be anyone, she says.

“Faces just don’t interest me. If you put a face on it, it becomes somebody,” she says. “When it’s faceless, it can be whoever you want it to be. You can create your own emotion or story behind it.”

Her messages are earthy, difficult, and universal – addiction, temptation, sin and judgment, the myth of perfection.

For instance, “Breaking the Chains” features a faceless nude woman lying on her back, hair falling toward what appears to be a bed made of real chain links underneath her. The painting was inspired by a friend dealing with an abusive relationship, but Molin says it has a broad interpretation. “It can be about anything that holds you in – an addiction, a dead-end job, an abusive relationship.”

Jessica Merritt, a computer programmer, owns several pieces of Molin’s more whimsical work – a bright floral piece hanging in the kitchen and a fairy ballerina in her daughter’s room. But she believes Molin is at her best when combining dark messages with bright color.

“I have pieces showing one side of her – the spirited side of her. Some of my favorites are her darker pieces because it really makes you feel whatever emotion she is trying to convey – shame, sadness, grief,” Merritt said. “Those pieces really grab me. They are like touchy emotions. People don’t want to talk about it.”

But clients who commission paintings value the personal touch she uses to interpret their ideas or photos. These, too, evoke feelings.

Carla Cody, a community volunteer, owns four original paintings by Molin. Using family photos, she created paintings of precious moments – Cody’s brother-in-law sitting on rocks by the sea during an outing before he died, and the ceremony when Cody and her husband renewed their wedding vows.

Cody also commissioned two paintings of her daughter.

“Katie just puts her heart into it and it comes out great because she does,” Cody said. “I don’t give her a photo and expect her to copy the same thing. She puts her own style on it.”

Artful Choices

Molin’s career as an artist has ebbed and flowed. She has an associate of arts degree from Polk State College and studied at Florida State University and the University of Central Florida. Her plans to complete her degree at the University of South Florida changed when she gave birth to her daughter.

She’s become skilled at juggling her job – she creates learning videos for the Polk County School Board – motherhood, marriage, running and competitive trail biking, and her lifetime passion of art. And she’s become serious about marketing her work on her website, www.LillyBugArt.com and Etsy.

Artist Glenda Losh, owner of Bartow’s {tay’-cho} an art gallery, met Molin soon after returning to Polk County, a time when the young mother was contemplating her career path.

“I had the honor of giving Katie a critique when she was first debating her future with art. I found her enthusiasm and commitment to her work and painting very admirable,” Losh says. “What first struck me about her work was her use of color. She has a great grasp of using color for color’s sake. Her use of bold, bright and unexpected colors… in her subjects is refreshing.”

Losh is pleased that Molin has continued to challenge herself as an artist.

“I have watched enthusiastically as she has grown as an artist in the past few years. I look forward to seeing where she soars from here,” Losh says.