I’ve known since the age of four that I loved being alone to mix tempura paints in mason jars and line them up in a row to fit in the tray that Daddy made for my easel. Paying way too much attention to the insensitive comment from a sculpture professor my first year in college, I changed my major from art to exceptional child education and began a journey away from visual arts. I like to think that I took a 40 year break from painting to earn money from meaningful work while raising my daughter, but my work as a speaker marketing specialist was a creative and exciting endeavor as well. Since retiring in 2013, painting has become entirely fulfilling.
I was born and raised in eastern North Carolina, in the segregated south where tobacco and cotton grew on flat land for miles. After college and teaching for four years, I moved away from everything familiar and lived in Hawaii for ten years. My subsequent marriage to a Polynesian gave me a new opportunity to observe people in general and Pan-Pacific populations in particular. I instantly fell in love with the island way of life. My inner and outer worlds merged. I opened up to a widened perspective of people and music. With the birth of our daughter, my own assimilation process meant that even though I was an outsider myself, I came to look at other outsiders through local eyes.
After moving to California, I found satisfaction working as a booking agent for high profile speakers, authors and experts for thirty one years. Retirement (plus a loving and supportive husband) has provided the privilege to explore the visual arts and open further creative expression. In 2003, Hal and I found a cottage on the coast where we co-mingled our treasures –his of Native and South American origins and mine from Asia and Africa- and have them work together with the rustic Chinese peasant furnishings we selected. These finds are a graphic memoir of art we love.
Inspired by these findings (some of which are featured on this page) and the diversity all around me, I paint to get perspective on people and to find a context for them in my life. I connect those dots. It’s the most natural thing I have ever done. It’s just one of the ways I know I’m intimately linked to humankind, no matter the cultural or physical differences. My paintings are mostly of individuals in some contemplative posture and/or form of reverie. While I experiment with various palettes and textures I become lost in their imaginative worlds.
California is an oasis for diversity and though like-minded groups tend to stay insulated, there are activities where our lives intersect. Fascinated by communities of people unfamiliar to me and within short distances, I gather images to paint. Within a few minutes’ ride, I can be in Little Saigon (the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam), Little Tokyo with its Buddhist Temples, the Arts District in Los Angeles (with so much public art and graffiti that it inspired a mural conservancy), and I can cross the Mexican border with a 90 minute ride. It is a privilege to be near Laguna Beach, a community that prizes art with over 75 galleries and three, two-month long art festivals featuring approximately 500 artists. The inspiration to paint is all around me in the faces I see, in nature, in literature and even during visually explosive seconds in films that leave me stunned!
This is an incredibly illuminating time in life and I am grateful for every second of the free fall into awareness that I experience with art… loose, forgiving, healing and fun. All I have to do is keep my eyes and heart open to the new and unexpected.