When Owensboro native Aaron Kizer first began painting, the future of his art career was uncertain. Initially viewing art as a hobby, Kizer began to increasingly devote more of his time to creating art when his father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
“When I first began painting, truthfully it was to help pay for my father’s chemo treatments,” Kizer said. “My goal was to create something and sell it for profit to help cover the expenses.”
Kizer had no idea that this small venture would eventually transform into something much greater.
Now a dominating force within the art world, Kizer displays his talents on the local, national and global level. Having painted for professional athletes and musicians just to name a few, the plethora of support Kizer has from diverse art enthusiasts is remarkable.
One of his biggest sources of inspiration is the annual event, “Tuff as Nels,” named in honor of his dad, Nelson.
Reflecting on how the event began, Kizer recalls his very first art show.
“My father actually passed away the morning of my first art showing,” Kizer said. “I opted to continue on with the event despite the circumstances and used the profits from it to pay for his funeral since he had no life insurance.”
For a brief time after his father’s passing, Kizer backed away from painting. Ultimately realizing the immense impact his father had made on his life, he eventually decided to throw himself back into his work, thus the “Tuff as Nels” movement began.
“I started to question how we could think outside of the box, how we could raise awareness and how we could change the world,” Kizer said.
“Tuff as Nels” soon became an annual event, prompting the community within Owensboro and abroad to get involved.
“My mother is now battling cancer, and it’s been almost ten years since we lost my dad,” Kizer said. “This year, ‘Tuff as Nels’ will be in honor of my mom. This is why I started painting to begin with, to give back and to help other people.”
To launch the event, a limited number of participants, usually ten, are selected. These participants cover a base art fee for materials and agree to make a donation to the American Cancer Society in honor of Nelson Kizer. Self-portraits of the participants are created, and the paintings are then displayed at a reveal, which is free to the public.
Past events have not only proven profitable for the American Cancer Society but to local families in need. Donations are accepted and encouraged throughout the reveal, as the event is set aside to truly make a difference.
To view Aaron Kizer’s work for yourself, and learn more about “Tuff as Nels” visit Kizer Arts on social media and www.kizerarts.com.