As a child, drawing was my passion. Was brought up on a farm in Mulberry, Tennessee, which is still owned by my family. Was the ninth of ten children, and idolized my older brother, who could draw well. Would watch him for hours imitating him while drawing on anything ready at hand.
Started oil painting seriously in 1976. At the time I was living in Decatur, Alabama, where I was employed as Chief Technologist of the Electrocardiogram, Encephalogram, and Graded Exercise Testing department. Working days at the Decatur General Hospital and attending night classes at the University of Birmingham, Alabama left me little time to pursue my avocation and great love of art. However, as soon as I received my degree, enrolled for night classes in Art 1 and Art History at Calhoun Community College in Athens, Alabama. This is a small town close to Decatur, Alabama. I attended Calhoun from 1977 through 1979. Also joined the Decatur Art Guild and displayed my work in various community centers during 1977 and 1979.
In 1981 I resigned as a Registered Cardiology Technologist and moved to Alexandria, Virginia, and accompanied my husband on his job-related travels. While on these trips, as my husband would leave for work, I would set up aand paint on location or in the motel room. Included with all my painting and drawing supplies was a 35mm camera. On the days that my paintings were too wet to work on, would go scouting for subjects for later work with my camera and a drawing pad. Have a variety of realistic oil paintings, which were completed, while traveling throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada, Thailand, and the Middle East. All of these paintings were oil on canvas.
From 1982 through 1984 I studied with Danni Dawson in figure and portrait drawing in oils and pastel, at The Art League School in Alexandria, Virginia. From 1984 until 1988 I took further classes in Landscape and Still Life in oils, from Diane Tesler, also at The Art League.
Started classes in 1989 in Oriental brush paintings with Mr. Henry Wo Yue- Kee learning Lingnan style of oriental brush painting. This art is on rice paper and the medium is minerals and ink. This style of art interested me because of my martial arts/Tai Chi’ training. The Chinese believed that to be a well rounded person one had to have experience in the following: martial arts, painting, medicine, poetry, and music. Have the ranking of 3rd degree black belt in freestyle karate, have been painting for well over 40 years, worked in the hospital for many years, play the violin, but so far no poetry. That will be next on my list of things to do.
The Chinese Brush Paintings (which are the bulk of my paintings now) in my Soft Brush Studio are rendered on acid free hand made rice paper, then mounted on a thicker paper using home made paste. The colors are ground from minerals or plants and mixed with glue so it will stick to the paper. The ink comes in liquid form or ink sticks that are ground on an ink stone made of slate and mixed with water. The ink stick is preferred over the liquid ink. The brushes are soft (rabbit hair), medium (mixed fox and horse hair), or hard (horse hair), and are loaded with water first, then as many layers of color or ink will be added depending on the subject matter. By loading the brush in this manner it allows the blending of one color into the other gradually in one brush stroke. After the paintings have been mounted the mood seals and chop with name of artist will be added. One chop has my name while the mood seals are poetical sayings or a symbol, which has a connection with the painting. The seals are pressed into a tin of cinnabar paste, a scarlet red color, and is pressed onto the painting. When using a red seal on a monochrome painting, it is said to be “adding the eye to the dragon“. Besides the signature seal, my work also has my name in Chinese characters, and my signature in English.
All of the Oriental Brush Paintings derive directly from nature. Unlike the oil paintings there are no photographs used. The subjects that are used are from following the 4 seasons. During the winter snow is often painted, and so on. The subject matter varies from landscapes to birds, flowers, fish, landscapes, animals, insects and so on. Much of the subject matter has symbolic meaning. For instance,if a couple were getting married, or moving into a new house, a great gift would be a painting with fish. Fish symbolize long life and happiness. If you have fish in the work place it keep cash flowing, so a painting of fish in the office would be a great choice. Landscapes symbolize tranquility, which makes a living room a great place for a landscape painting. Both Crane and pine tree are strong and is a symbol of long life . These paintings are used by many interior decorators to feng shui home and or office for their clients