When Bette Kunkle was a little girl, she was a dreamer.

“I dreamed of being an artist,” said Kunkle, a longtime Independence resident who is now a member of the artist’s co-op Art Squared and the featured artist this month at 111 North Main Street, across the street from Ophelia’s on The Square in Independence.

“Now that dream has become a reality, and I am so thrilled to be a part of Art Squared and to be the featured artist this month just means so much to me. I just love being here – visiting with patrons who come in, doing some sketching or some art work – it’s just a special place in my life and I hope a special place in the life of the people who visit here.”

Her passion for art was stoked by her mother, who was an artist at Hall Brothers. She provided her daughter with water colors, pastel chalks and a sketchbook, and they became as much a part of her life as eating and breathing.

“My father was a career Navy man, so we moved from town to town and I moved from elementary school to elementary school,” Kunkle said. “I never really had many friends, because we moved around so much, so I created my own friends in my sketchbook and through my art.

“I believe, especially at a young age, that is why art was so important to me. It was my friend. Now, it is my passion.”

Kunkle calls her art “homespun and comfortable.”

It features a range of subjects from friends’ pets to landscapes and ocean scenes and portraits.

Her tools include oil, acrylic, pastel chalk and watercolor, and the end results share the artist’s passion for her most current project.

She took art classes during a rare three-year stretch in which she attended the same high school in Nebraska, but her love of art is the real teacher in her life.

Two pieces on display feature “dancing trees” on display in her own back yard. Another takes a look at the Strawberry Festival at the Vaile Mansion, with patrons wearing brightly colored hats as they stroll through the historic Independence site.

“When I see something – I am a nature lover – when I see a piece of art, it should sing and dance,” Kunkle said. “The colors should sing and your eyes should dance around the painting.”

Kunkle also donates a portion of her greeting cards and prints to Church Women United, a group that meets at the First Christian Church in Independence.

It’s just a way for her to give back.

“I have been blessed,” she explained, “and I want to share my blessings with others.”