People sometimes think the work they’re seeing is all I’ve ever done. So I’m sharing my journey here.
I was about 14 when I drew these – I was obsessed with copying roses, I drew that same rose a dozen times. One day, I drew my 4-yr-old cousin as he played.
Finneytown High School (1982-83)
This drawing is inspired by a piece my mother made when I was a child; she is also an artist.
My art teacher, Mr. Bush, was great! I really enjoyed drawing the fabrics he set up.
This drawing won a “Key Award” at the Scholastic Competition in Cincinnati, Ohio
My attempt to draw the isolation and alienation of people I saw while driving through Clifton.
My teenaged self-portrait. The brown mark on the eye is from the acidic tape I used.
In college, I started drawing a lot of landscapes and working with dark charcoal, erasing back to the light. Ron Tanzi taught us a lot about space – I’d never thought about art in that way.
I studied painting 101 in 1985-86, we spent the year working in oil. I thought all of mine were awful. It was so frustrating. Working toward mastering skills is different from letting the art happen, and I couldn’t balance the two.
My 20’s (Madison, WI)
I was excited to be married and living on our own – and sad about dropping out of college. So I took non-credit classes whenever I could. Watercolor classes were offered and I liked the teacher, so that’s what I did.
Watercolors were great because they are so portable and you can’t help but learn what happens when all of the colors mix – they run together so often!
I started really enjoying pastels, they were more of an extension of the charcoals I’d done. This pastel drawing of gourds is the first artwork I showed at a gallery. In 1995, Grace Chosey was kind enough to show this and a couple of other drawings. Nothing sold; I was devastated, and took it as a sign that I was hopeless.
Also in 1995, I went to a weekend workshop taught by Diane Canfield-Bywaters. It was wonderful! I felt like an oddball because I hadn’t brought any paint, just pastels; I hated my paintings right then, hated brushes because they felt like an impediment.
My early 30’s (State College, PA)
Roofs of the apartments next to ours. Sold on Ebay, way back in the day! I always knew the Internet would be a good way to sell art 😉
Small watercolor postcard
I started teaching drawing classes in State College, at their local art co-op and at the Penn State student union. It was interesting to see what people could do well and where they struggled.
I’ve always thought that everyone can make art – that art is merely another language. That’s not to say there aren’t genius artists; but one doesn’t have to be worth of the MOMA to make a painting. It really ticked me off to read the New York Times’ art critic, Edward Rothstein, opining about art as the exclusive purview of geniuses. So I wrote an Op Ed explaining that just as one doesn’t have to be Michael Jordan to shoot hoops in the backyard, one doesn’t have to be a genius to make some art. My little letter was published, I was so tickled – of course they shortened it. The longer version was better ;).
I wanted to reach a larger audience with my art classes, to bring more people into art-making. I wanted make it accessible to everyone, not just something for the elite. So I convinced the local cable access channel to let me put on an art instruction show. I solicited donations from art suppliers and talked my neighbors into being my students on-camera. The results weren’t especially good because I just didn’t know enough; however, it was a wonderful learning experience for me.
My 30’s (Chicago, IL)
I was temping at Coca-Cola and I took a painting class at the School of the Art Institute. So of course this was the outcome LOL! I really enjoyed that class, Lee Tracy was the teacher. I finally started to feel comfortable with paint.
These bowls are the first painting I ever sold at a gallery. I was a member of the Art House co-op gallery in Oak Park, Illinois, we had a lot of fun!
We used to volunteer at a PADS shelter for the homeless. We’d bring in art supplies and lead them in making something to pass the time. The people we talked to were lovely.
One night, none of them wanted to make anything. They just wanted to talk. After a while, I got bored and started sketching them – just fast, loose sketches. Here’s the one I drew of Jerry
Everyone loved their sketches – and urged me to do more and sell them. I was floored, and thrilled. Of course! And since they only took about 5-10 minutes/ea, I could sell them for $10 and pretty much anyone could buy one!
So I’ve drawn somewhere around 2,500 people since then.
I think of this house as my first reasonably competent landscape painting. It’s an oil. It was so hot that day, I was dripping! The missing piece of the photo is because I used to use a flatbed scanner to capture images, and I made a mistake on this one somehow (and I sold the original years ago). But I still like the painting, so I wanted to share.
I played the violin for the West Suburban Symphony Orchestra for a couple of years – I loved that! On one occasion, the president of the orchestra planned a multi-media Halloween concert. I didn’t have a lot of time, nor money, for these paintings and I wanted them to be large. So I used tempera paint on the bumpy side of masonite 2′ x 4′ panels. It was like “Pictures at an Exhibition”, with my paintings illustrating each piece the orchestra was playing. I decided that my paintings should be tributes to famous painters – the one on the left is “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in the style of Lichtenstein. The one on the right is “Starry Night on Bald Mountain”. I painted four others, but didn’t document them.
My 40’s – present (Lafayette, IN)
A few years later, I worked on a space mural with the students at Lake Village Elementary School. My goal was for the students to lead the project as much as possible and do the actual painting themselves.
After my divorce, the artwork just poured out. I made 18 pieces in 6 weeks for my first solo show, “I Want Candy”, in 2011 and sold most of them.
“I Want Candy” was an exhibit where I worked in the styles of famous artists. My idea was that if some of history’s best artists got on a bus and traveled to my town, these are the things they’d see and the way they’d paint them.
Through a mutual friend, I had the chance to study with Shane Wolf, an artist from Cincinnati who is now a world-famous famous big deal. I attended two of his workshops at Manifest Gallery, in Cincinnati, studying portrait and figure drawing. It was an amazing experience! These are two of the drawings I did there.
One afternoon I was sitting on the sidewalk, working on a drawing, and it hit me how alone I was. Just me, making drawings, with no sense of future or past. I realized I needed to be connected to something larger. About a week later, I had a long conversation with my friend Kristy, who told me about her plans for going back to college. I was very excited and the next day I logged on to Purdue’s website to find that the deadline for applying was that very day, and I had exactly enough time to get in.
So, at age 47, I went back to school to finish my BA in Fine Art. It was wonderful! I was able to study a lot of art history, take design classes, and also take graduate painting classes.
I was taking Design 105 and Art History 383 at the same time. As I was working on the classic “3 black squares/1 red” design exercise, I also happened to read the Delacroix quotation “A true draughtsman must be able to draw a man falling from a third-story window before he hits the ground”. Well – here ya go! Minimalist version!
When we were learning how to use Photoshop I made this one – I it “Venus II: Electric Bouguereau”.
When I was a college student the first time, I had a terrible time with design class and ended up dropping it – I just didn’t understand what was going on. This time, I got it.
And Art History at Purdue was another beast entirely! Since I’d already sat through a year of basic art history, I was able to take upper level classes on Modern Art. The professor, Catherine Dossin, is amazing – all of a sudden, Art History wasn’t the enemy. These were my people, these artists. I could relate to their journeys.
While I was at Purdue I started teaching “Paint & Party” events. I’d taught art to adults before, and was always sad to see how frustrating it was for them. So I loved the idea of helping people make one nice painting in a session. I’ve done almost 400 parties so far, with over 5,000 participants. It’s so much fun! And the way I do things, everyone’s painting turns out differently.
The last thing I did before I graduated was take Basic Painting. I’ve always thought that the basics of art are so vast and complex that it takes a long time to achieve competency.
I also made time for some other events. In 2013, a local charity (“CASA”) was holding a fundraiser in conjunction with the Indiana Bar Association. The idea was that the Bar Association needed a piece of art about our local courthouse for their collection of courthouses around Indiana. So they decided to have a contest, and invited local artists to do a painting of the courthouse so they would have a bunch of paintings to choose from. They hung everyone’s paintings in a nice exhibit with a lovely reception, and CASA retained a commission on the paintings that sold.
I offered two pieces – one was a conventional drawing of the courthouse. A local business purchased it, I was so tickled. It’s the one on the left, below.
The other piece is unconventional; it’s inspired by Dali, I call it “The Persistence of Politics”. I sold it a couple of years later, to a delightful lawyer.
The following summer, I was invited by the Athens of Indiana Art Gallery in Crawfordsville to participate in the art exhibit and contest for the Montgomery County courthouse for their bar association, and they DID pick my drawing! So now I have a piece in the Indiana Bar collection. Here it is:
In 2015, a bunch of us painted fiberglass bears as a fundraiser for the Greater Lafayette Museum of Art. Mine is based on seeing Monarch butterflies migrate back in 1995. We happened to be hiking on a trail in Wisconsin (without a camera, of course) when thousands of Monarch butterflies came through.
In 2016, I complete two projects for the Otterbein Public Library. This painting in the clerestory shows children playing with light.
I helped Amber Heigel’s sixth-grade students paint a large mural in the Otterbein Public Library’s programming room. I wanted this mural to be child-led as much as possible, and to clearly show that children had painted the images. They told the story of their lives as children growing up in 2016, featuring the things that are important to them: video games, sports, family, friends, pets, and of course, books.
A group of religious leaders planned a memorial for the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and asked for an artist to participate by illustrating the theme of their event, which was sunflowers. So I painted this live, starting as exploding buildings and morphing into sunflowers.
Here are some recent paintings inspired by music
In 2017, I participated in a plein air painting fundraiser for the Caterpillar Company’s anniversary. I painted this engine during their employee picnic.
I’m painting a series of murals for the Veteran’s Administration retirement center in West Lafayette. Here is a progress shot of the first mural, it’s 4′ x 8′ and I’m using acrylic paint:
The second VA mural was really challenging – I wanted to place this lovely family at the Monument Circle in Indianapolis.
In 2017 and 2018, I created my first “installation art” pieces. This came about because I had an opportunity to show paintings at the Tippecanoe Art Federation in the summer of 2017, but I’d stopped painting the nice landscapes. Instead, I was making emotional abstract paintings and collages inspired by politics.
So I decided to create an installation piece called “At the Table”. It’s explained and documented in another tab 🙂
In 2018, I created “At the Table II: White and Black”. Then “At the Table III: Your Plate” and finally “At the Table IV: My Own Backyard”.
I’ve also returned to doing landscape paintings and life drawings.
I’m also doing a bunch of portraits at my day job, painting my co-workers on the glass walls: