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Sandusky woman captures life in her art

Alissa Widman Neese • Oct 28, 2013 at 7:00 PM

While her parents and brothers tackled the towering roller coasters and fun family rides, Tricia’s biggest thrill was observing the artists skillfully sketching portraits of amusement park guests.

“I always knew I wanted to be an artist, and that was my chance to learn,” recalled Tricia, a Sandusky native. “My mom would say, ‘Someday you can do this, too, so come and watch.’ That was a highlight for me.”

Tricia did all she could to make her goal a reality.

At age 15, she moved into the artist seat, also completing portraits of Cedar Point guests. She graduated from Sandusky High School in 1969 and in a couple of years saved enough money to attend Cooper School of Art in Cleveland.

She’s now an award-winning painter with nearly 40 years experience, as well as the founder of Kaman’s Art Shoppes. The business provides iconic pastel sketches and other art services to 40 theme parks across the nation and Canada, including Cedar Point.

Want to see more?

• Go to triciakaman.com   to learn more about Sandusky native Tricia Kaman’s artwork. Also, go to kamansart.com  to learn more about Kaman’s Art Shoppes.


“I never expected anything like this,” Tricia said. “It really took on a life of its own, and I was so busy living it that I never had much time to tell the story.”

Today her story is a balance of speedy business and slower, relaxing studio work.

Tricia lives near Cleveland, where she works in her studio. She enjoys portraying people by “painting from life,” as she explains it. Her works have been featured in a variety of art publications and have won many national and international competitions.

One of Tricia’s most recent feats: “Jenise in her Kimono,” an oil painting on canvas, was accepted into a renowned Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club exhibit in New York City this month.

The portrait depicts a woman with in one of her prized kimonos, a prop she brought to Tricia’s studio.

“I always work with real life models, just like we do at the parks, probably because I got used to people sitting and waiting for me to draw them,” Tricia said. “I like capturing the unique aspects of a person in my work, whether it’s a 15-minute sketch or a 15-hour oil painting.”

On the business side, she has trained hundreds of portrait artists while managing Kaman’s Art Shoppes with her husband, Rich Kaman.

Their children, Ben and Kate, also work in the field.

Jamie Smith, contract manager for Kaman’s Art Shoppes at Cedar Point, said Tricia is highly revered, for both her impact on amusement park art and her personal painting style. She regularly visits parks throughout the year to work with her employees and offer advice.

Smith has worked at Cedar Point for 11 years and also got her start as an amusement park portrait artist. She said Tricia is a close friend and mentor.

“I didn’t really understand what she’d done for the industry until I became an assistant in 2006,” Smith said. “She basically perfected the ‘quick sketch’ for amusement parks, so everyone can have an easily accessible piece of artwork in their home.”

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