An excerpt from her forthcoming book:
I began painting in early childhood entirely for fun as children do, never thinking of becoming an “artist.” I won a Maryland state award in the sixth grade for a safety poster that I created but still didn’t consider I had talent. I just loved doing it and looking at and studying fine oil paintings.
At age 15, to my amazement I sold my very first oil painting to a fellow high school art class student. This was the first of many and though I’ve taken sidetracks into other careers over the years my paintings have been drawing a following ever since.
Fast forward a few decades, through countless town fairs and art shows, some of which I chaired. As the new millennium dawned I was being called one of the East Coast’s most collectible artists. My paintings, drawings and limited edition prints could by then be found in homes, private and government collections throughout the United States, with a few finding their way abroad. More than 100 galleries represented my work and I had a gallery of my own in a small seaside town in Delaware, my home state for many decades.
By then sales of my work had reached more than one quarter million dollars a year with most of my new originals selling before they were completed. I felt like I was dreaming and tried not to think about it for fear of bursting the bubble, instead saying quiet prayers of thanks.
But it didn’t happen overnight, and with mountains come valleys.
I began working as an artist professionally in the early-1970s, painting landscapes and seascapes, commissioned oil portraits of children, dogs, cats and horses, illustrating local magazine covers with pen & inks of historic scenes, painting and selling prints for fund-raising projects and illustrating religious articles for a weekly Delaware newspaper – a job which was to become very close to my heart and teach me many lessons.
The illustrations led to a side career in journalism and photojournalism, which I tackled with the same love and fervor with which I’d tackled my self-taught art. Each piece I wrote, each photograph I took or illustration I created was a new learning experience as I strove to get better at it.
Within several years, the result of my efforts brought in eight Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association first and second place awards, competing mostly against college educated journalists and editors working at 65 regional newspapers.
I was named an “Outstanding Female Role Model in Journalism” by the American Federation of Women’s Clubs, and then garnered more than 60 “Best of Chesapeake” awards for news coverage, feature writing, newspaper design, photography and even won a humor category for writing about a pelican that somehow wound up in Delaware during an ice storm. A six-part series about alcohol and drug abuse that I wrote and illustrated brought not only a Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Assoc. award but a citation from the Delaware Bureau on Alcohol Abuse.
In those days I went back and forth between writing and painting. I’d become fairly well known for my art by then, despite the hours as a journalist, and when my followers complained that I’d laid aside my brushes for writing, I explained that both careers required the same basic skills: observation and expression and that I hadn’t left anything behind. I loved knowing that my writing could bring about positive changes within a community just as I loved opening eyes to the beauty and the good around us with my paintings.
By the mid-1980s, dismayed with the corporate world’s influence on some newspapers, I again switched careers, leaving my post as associate editor to start freelancing using all of my acquired skills as artist, photographer, writer and designer.
Within two days, I found myself helping a friend launch a new magazine in Ocean City, Maryland, serving as writer, photographer, and graphic designer under title executive editor.
When the magazine got established, I left it to return to my artwork full time, now with the understanding that several decades of life experience and constant study of the Bible and its history can lend.
It was at this point that a sequence of life-altering circumstances began, prompted by prayer and enabled by an unlikely project I’d been doing research on for 15 years. When completed, Treasure Beaches of the Mid-Atlantic drew national attention and sales far and wide. More successes followed and soon I was praying my way through opening an art gallery.
By then approaching my 50th birthday, I finally understood the purpose of my work, no matter the form it took.
Today, my work can be found on four continents and 14 countries in homes and offices and in private, government and corporate collections. It’s received a number of awards, the last being named one of “10 Must See Galleries and Museums in Delaware” by an international cultural review group. But what does this really mean?
I remember praying as a young girl that my life would be a blessing. A long time ago I asked that God use me, my work, in whatever way was needed.
That remains my hope. Poet Helen Steiner Rice (no relation) once said we can’t change the whole world, but we can “brighten the corner where we are” and that our efforts will in turn ripple and brighten the rest of the world.
It’s my hope that whatever I do, in whatever corners of the world my work is found, it brightens and uplifts.