By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
A fantastical family of creatures called the Oddits have come to Tupelo, and they’re unlike anything the city has ever seen.
Some have birds on their heads, others have wheels for feet, a few have springs instead of necks. They’re colorful and whimsical and seem to celebrate the individuality inherent in us all.
The Oddits were created by artist Lucia Randle, marketing director of Reed’s, where the creatures can be seen hanging in the gift shop.
Randle started doodling the Oddits in her sketch books a few years ago as a way to unwind. A trained artist who’d specialized in realism, Randle said these drawings allowed her expressive side to emerge.
“I started doing these little faces with big eyes,” said Randle, who majored in art at Itawamba Community College and graphic design at Louisiana State University. “Then I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if the body was an hourglass or they had wheels for feet? We’re all so different. Let’s celebrate that.”
After inking dozens upon dozens of Oddits in black and white, Randle finally decided to put them on canvass – with color. That’s when the artist’s personal passion became a public phenomenon.
Randle brought one of her pieces to Reed’s in September to show a friend, and was immediately asked to begin selling them at the store’s gift shop.
They were an instant hit.
“Before this, I’d always just do art for me or for family and friends as gifts,” Randle said. “But I was never really marketing my work like I have the past few months.”
The Fulton native began drawing early in life, sketching and painting as a child and taking art classes throughout her years of schooling. After graduating college, she landed a job as a graphic artist at Gordon Marks & Co.’s Tupelo branch.
She went on to become the graphics director at WTVA, where she worked until taking time off to raise her three children – Cole, Haynes and Allie, now 20, 16 and 11 years old.
Her children have provided some of Randle’s greatest inspiration and also some of her best advice.
“The children inspire me – not just my children but children in general,” Randle said. “They’re so innocent, so unaffected by society. They don’t care about what anyone thinks, and there’s such honesty in children.”
That honesty is apparent when Randle’s children view her art and make comments and suggestions, encouraging her to add more detail here or a few more brush strokes there.
She said her kids fully support their mother’s passion and have grown accustomed to seeing canvases set up in the kitchen or dining room or sitting area.
“It’s positive for the children to be involved in the creative process,” Randle said, noting that her two youngest also have an artistic side.
More than a hobby
But art is more than a hobby to Randle. It’s therapeutic and spiritual and an essential component of her being.
Randle shared one of her favorite quotes, written by Belgian author Jeanne de Vietinghoff, to express her feelings about art. Part of it reads, “Woman is born to create … in creating she becomes herself, accomplishes her destiny.”
The Oddits are part of Randle’s journey to discovering her destiny. Randle said she’s unsure how long she’ll paint the whimsical little creatures, which she has copywrited as a collection. But right now they serve a purpose in her life.
“This is where I am now as an artist,” she said. “But artists evolve, and we experiment with different things. I might be doing landscapes next. But right now I want to develop these creatures, and I have gotten good response from it.”
Most of the Oddits on display at Reed’s have been purchased, but Randle said she’ll start painting more soon. She also does work on commission and has several of those pieces to create.
She’s not stressed about the increasing demand for her art. Far from it.
“If you allow it to become a hassle, you squelch the process,” she said. “You just have to let it flow. I’m happiest when I’m creating. It’s fulfilling to me.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 6789-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.