The Artist: Kay Arlene (Ridenour) Wilson



Nationally-recognized artist Kay Wilson was born Kay Arlene Ridenour in December 1937, in Pemberville, Ohio, and grew up in Dayton.  On student scholarships, she studied art at Dayton Art Institute and majored in Fine Art at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio for two years.  Kay then married and moved to Canfield, Ohio where she finished her B.S. in Art Education at Youngstown State University. 

With her devoted husband David Wilson she had three daughters (Leslie Hancock of Loveland; Julie Burnett of Austintown; and Rhonda Collins of Columbus) and four grandchildren (Neil, Kara, Evan and Jamison).

Throughout her career, she taught adult classes in color and design, figure, portrait and advanced painting at Butler Institute of American Art, Trumbull Art Gallery, Salem Art Guild, and in her home studio.  She was a prolific and innovative painter whose mantra was: “a day without art was like a day without sunshine”.  

Kay Wilson died at her home in the early hours of Thursday, May 10, 2007 after a courageous battle with cancer.  

May 2019:

A torrential rain in Canfield, Ohio, flooded our family home and my Mom’s entire art studio and gallery. Over five agonizing days our family sorted and trashed much of our parent’s household, including roughly 100 original paintings.  In October of that year, the family made a decision that I would take possession of the remaining paintings from her nearly 50-year career.  

About Artistry33:

This website and the business I've named Artistry33 The Works of Kay Wilson LLC, has literally been a passionate idea for more than 20 years.  However, it was March of 2021 before the paintings and my time aligned to finally launch this business.  

I hope you enjoy the products I've hand-picked to showcase her amazing talent.  I'm starting with just four series of her paintings:  Wine, Coastal, Mill Creek Park and Floral (but many more to come so please stop back often)!  

Additionally - every image is available for branding with company logos and large volume production.  Industries which best fit her artwork include wineries, wholesale wine distributors, travel agencies, garden centers, home staging, real estate, gift shops in lake communities, and so many more.  If you are curious about branding and wholesale items/pricing, please contact me directly at

Artist’s and published Statements:

  • In Kay's words:  "My painting career spans more than 4 decades, and I still struggle to define my goals. Quality and purpose remain elusive concepts. Carl Jung said: " ‘The needful thing is not to know the truth, but to experience it.’  I continue to paint, to search, to enjoy -- and to wonder."
  • “I’m searching for a magical blend of representational and contemporary painting concepts, where ‘what I paint’ and ‘how I paint’ will merge into a harmonious personal statement.”
  • “She loved painting in different styles. It was fun for her but also a dilemma because she thought that an artist should pick a style and stay with it,” said daughter Leslie Hancock of Findlay, herself a graphic artist.  
  • One of her best friends, Maureen Creager, in a eulogy at Mom's funeral, said her friend had a “brilliant, inquiring mind and was the only true intellectual I’ve ever known.”
  • The following is from Jennifer Neff, June 2005, who is an associate of the artist: "An aura of humility surrounds her, but she can boast of over 90 awards in area and national competitions.  She continually explored her world from many directions."   

Artistic Style:

  • Kay worked primarily in oils, and her paintings were characterized by overlapping layers of paint usually applied with a palette knife. She also worked with digital painting in the later years.
  • Excerpts from the Biography of Kay Wilson on  "The Wilsons live in Canfield, Ohio on a wooded cul-de-sac. The vibrant colors of her surroundings, and images they evoke, are reflected in her art.They enjoyed extensive travel, and although well known for local landscapes, Kay was also known for paintings of favorite places in Europe, Asia and South America.”
  • Her subject matter ranges from realistic portraits and landscapes,to abstracts and still-life. Her fine-tuned, detailed realism shows wonderful perspective and abstracts show a spirit of freedom and flow for which she garnered numerous awards.


  • Her oils and digital portraits have won more than 90 awards in national and international competitions.
  • In 2002, she was awarded the Butler Institute of American Art’s Clyde Singer Life Achievement in the Visual Arts medal for her “distinguished accomplishment as an artist and for her dedicated service to the promotion of the visual arts.”
  • One of the Top 10 finalists out of 3,000 entries in the Kirkland's National Artist’s competition- November 2006 her painting “Bottles on Red,” (located in the Wine series on the website)
  • Listed in Marquis’s “International Who’s Who of Professional and Business Women.”
  • Two of her paintings have been finalists in competitions for The Artist’s Magazine, and one was published in the Golden Gallery of Winners in the May ‘95 issue.
  • YW Woman of the Year in Arts Career Category, Youngstown, OH – 1986.
  • She had been associated with the YWCA’s annual Women in Art Show since its inception.
  • She was a charter member of The Canfield Businesswomen’s Association. 

Where her work has been published:

  • American Heritage Band, Langley AFB, Maryland, commissioned 18 illustrations of fairy tales and Ogden Nash poems which are included on a classical music children's CD “Musical Storybook,”that was distributed world-wide.
  • Youngstown State University accolades include:

Kay's daughter Rhonda (and owner of Artistry33) finally meets Penaissance 12 years after the Penguin Parade

  1. "Parade of Penguins"- Wilson's sense of fun was recently celebrated when she was selected to transform a seven-foot white fiberglass penguin, the YSU mascot, into a design of her choice. She named her penguin, "Penaissance".
    1. Penaissance is currently on display at the Southern Park Mall in Boardman, Ohio.
  2. Kay illustrated the 2003 children’s book about the Youngstown State University mascots, “Penny’s Big Day.”  by Sharon Mika. 
  • As one of 40 winning artists in international competition sponsored by Adobe Photoshop, five digital portraits are included on a CD packed with Adobe Photoshop 5.0 software      and in the Photoshop 5/5.5 WOW textbook.
  • Five of her paintings were commissioned by Ingram Book Co. Nashville, TN for its Gift Book Catalog covers, and received national distribution
  • Currently three of her abstract works are on display at Desert Art Collection, Palm Desert, California.
  • Commissioned portraits, such as the painting of Federal Judge Battisti that hangs in the Federal Courthouse in Youngstown, and her work can be seen in many public buildings throughout the area.
  • An oil of a catfrom the family farm, "Empress of the Woodshed", was published, May 1995, in The Artists Magazine Golden Gallery of Winners. 

Past SOLO shows include:

Oakland Center for the Performing Arts, Youngstown, OH, 2005 
Valley Art Center, Chagrin Falls, OH, 2004
Davis Center, Fellow Riverside Gardens, Youngstown, OH, 2004
Butler Institute of American Art, 2000. 
Youngstown Playhouse
Trumbull Art Guild, Warren, OH
Malone College, Canton, OH
Kent State University Extension, Warren, OH 

Past GROUP shows include:

Portrait Show - One of six area artists at Butler Institute of American Art, 2004 Contemporary Art Invitational - Butler Institute of American Art, Salem Branch, 2002 Artist Archives of the Western Reserve Members Shows, Cleveland, OH, 2002, 2003, 2004 Women Artists: A Celebration of 20 years, Youngstown, OH Boston Mills Invitational, 8 years, Cleveland/Akron OH Area Artists Annuals of 40 years - Butler Institute of American Art  Butler Institute of American Art Midyear Show




Personal interview and various awards, exhibition and gallery attendance
Canfield Town Crier, 2 Sep 2004, ps1&4; Feature "Artist Has Life-Long Love of Her Craft" by Tracy L. Mayle
Marquis' Who's Who and International Who's Who of Professional and Business Women 
Butler Institute of American Art / said Beth Ensign, TAG curator, and Pat Galgozy, consultant and director of the TAG Gallery, located at 198 E. Market St. and
Obituary. The Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio