“I don’t have much fear making art and always felt like I could jump in and do whatever I wanted. I have been that way since kindergarten. I have fear in other areas, but not here. Don’t we all need a place where we can just do what we want? A blank canvass is fun to me and I get a physical feeling in my belly like listening to good music. If it doesn’t work, paint over it and earn from mistakes. There is a freedom in this part of my world that I can’t get in a job or personal life. I am free to do what I want in my studio.
I like to paint an object like a bird vase or candelabra over and over and learn it and get better at it. I went to Cezanne’s studio in France and saw some of the ordinary things that he painted over and over. That made a huge impression on me. I also associate multiple meanings with objects. The candelabra is Christ and the light of the world. It is also a prism that breaks colors up. I like painting colors and patterns that shouldn’t go together and try to show how the world breaks up to us in different ways. Tut Riddick has been a good friend and big influence on me as someone who has had a long career by being herself and not following trends.
I love the idea of variety in senses. The Conchita is a pimento and I painted it close to a bowl of candy. The flowers would have a scent. It is all a part of my view of the world and little things happening at the same time. Sometimes I include atoms and scientific things we don’t pay attention to The world is magic but ofteb we don’t notice the magic because we aren’t paying attention.
One of my favorites is a series of widows. I started them years ago when I had a friend in mourning and she was constantly complaining. We all have loss and hard times. Getting up every day and putting on clothes and lipstick, our armor, is something we all do. Widows is a monument to survivors. I play TV shows in the background in my studio. Andy Griffith was on and I started thinking about the eccentric Southern characters that are disappearing. Widows is also an homage to those characters that we are losing.
I try to paint every day but I teach art at Bishop State and some days I don’t have time. I have been through periods I couldn’t paint and had panic attacks and nightmares. With art, you have to do it or lose it, Painting is a physical activity for me and I am not myself and miss it if I don’t do it.
My mom busted me when I was two years old because I was painting on a wall with chocolate milk from a sippy cup. A little later, when mama wanted Will to take a nap, she would put butcher paper down under the fig tree in our backyard and put food coloring in shoe polish bottles for paint and that would keep me entertained for hours while Will slept.
Our parents encouraged our creativity. We were raised going to see plays and museums and listening to music. My dad was a defense lawyer and put on a show in court. People went to watch him just for entertainment. Will and I liked a lot of the same things growing up and we talked about culture. We read Rolling Stone and Cream together that had music and art. I love music but I am not musical. My mom was a piano major and wanted a musician. I was the oldest so I took piano because she was going to give me a doll if I took it for a year. I did it and got my doll and said no more lessons. Will was four and it wasn’t long after that mama realized her musician was him, not me. Will and I were silly and had lots of creative play and our parents didn’t interrupt.
I have taught art for years and people and it is exciting to see some of my students become successful. I work all of the time. My mom’s theory is elbow grease will get you anywhere. Working makes me feel alive. I don’t have a husband and kids so I have had the freedom to work and do this and it is a fun life. I get to go all kinds of places and do things with people who are interesting. My friends don’t mind if I don’t go out with paint on my knees.
This is my first show in a long time and is a thrill to see my pieces going up on the walls at the Eastern Shore Art Center. I have been an artist forever and I am thankful people still care about my work. I never thought of myself as anything else but an artist. This is what I was made to do.”