Nashville, TN and Tallahassee, FL
My art focuses on the beauty and color of nature. Whether it is the magic of the flowers remembered from my grandmother’s gardens, birds identified from memories of walks with her great aunt or the mystery of Reelfoot Lake’s unique earthquake formation, nature provides a wealth of inspiration for her. Botanical painting is a favorite subject I love to teach. As a registered nurse, I have researched and taught about art’s role in healthcare.
I have two statements. I am posting both in hopes of feedback.
From the dramatic color of the sun on the waters of “The Lake” to the bright bits of sparkle in the trees of the forest, to the heady feasts of color and scent of my grandmother’s flower garden, these are the magical memories that literally saved the life of the sick allergy-ridden child that was me. Frequently confined to the house behind closed windows and doors or to a hospital bed in my childhood, I was occasionally able to escape to the outdoors to trail behind my grandmother as she worked in her flower garden, or to hold the hand of my great aunt for a walk through her favorite bird-watching place in the woods, or to take a drive with my great uncle for an afternoon at “The Lake.” I drank in these lovely times as deeply as possible before the next allergy attack sent me back to my confines. In the times of indoor confinement, I began with crayons then oil paint as a means of returning to the magical places with Granmama, my great aunt, Sade, and my uncle, “Pappy.”
The deeply felt emotional relation to the color, the drama and the magic of those life saving childhood adventures sustained me then and lives on now through my painting. In each painting, whether the large dramatic colors on water, the sweetly energetic birds, or the exacting botanical flowers, each one is a reflection of the personalities of the three people who taught me the sustaining beauty of nature.
My grandmother was very precise in her gardening, with rows set out according to species, variety and color. Botanical painting with its innate precision and exacting standards is a reflection of my grandmother’s garden. Thoughtful planning and design are as important to my botanical painting as they were to my grandmother’s garden. Watercolor is the medium to express the vital structure of flora.
Like the birds flitting among the branches of the trees in the forest, Aunt Sade, even in her eighties, always had a sparkle in her eyes. She loved the birds and assigned personalities to the different species. The times when I was confined indoors, I watched the birds from my window. They were friends. My paintings of birds are meant to depict a sense of life, fun and freedom as my memories remind me of Aunt Sade’s delightful bird descriptions.
Pappy would steal me away for a ride to “The Lake” to see what colors would dance upon the waters that day. As we drove, he would build the drama as each curve brought us closer to the moment when rounding the last curve, “The Lake” would come into view. We would both cry out in excitement when those waters appeared over the horizon. All thoughts of sickness disappeared in that moment.
My art is about paying forward the life-sustaining gift of joy these three people and these three places gave to a hurting child that I now pass on to you in each painting. May the magic of a child’s wonder in the beauty of nature, live on in art.
Reelfoot Lake was born of the violence and destruction of the New Madrid Earthquake of 1811-12. The land shook and split, the river ran backwards, black smoke eviscerated all light and when morning came again, a lake was formed. After a time, peace returned to the water dotted throughout with cypress trees providing shelter to bald eagles and other birds in the branches, and to fish among the roots and knees. Light bounces off the dark opaque water lapping at the trees, reflecting a myriad of colors. As a child growing up at Reelfoot, I was mesmerized by the colors on the suface of the lake and the mysterious trees growing up through the water. My lake paintings are about the beauty and mystery of Reelfoot as remembered through a child’s eyes. From the destruction of the earthquake to the birth of a sanctuary, the Reelfoot story is about rebirth and the hope for a new day. My paintings express through color and drama, the magical beauty that belies the violent birth and seeks to capture the enchantment of childhood memories.
The secret of magic is kept within nature. I learned this very early in life as I tottered along behind my grandmother in her seemly endless garden of flowers, or when holding the hand of my great aunt as we went for bird watching walks. My grandmother’s garden was my secret childhood healing place. Each flower painting is a remembrance of the healing that can be found in a garden, the hope of renewal, the joy of simple beauty. The bird paintings are the expression of a child’s wonder at these fascinating little creatures that know the secret of flying. My grandmother taught me a love of growing things. My great aunt shared her fascination with the world of birds. In my remembered child’s dream world, I live in the trees with the birds above my grandmother’s garden of colorful flowers. Each painting transports me to that happy place. Each painting shares that happy place with others.
Art has the power to heal. Art can inspire peace, restore hope, deflect fear. Art can turn sadness into joy. Inspired by the research of others, I sought to also show through research, that art is a tool for healing. My research was encouraging in the beauty of the effects art had on patients, nurses, doctors and other staff of a cardiac care unit in the Art to Heart Project at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Art can positively impact the healthcare environment. Artists can see their work make a difference in the lives of people who are hurting. As more visual art becomes a part of healthcare, more lives will be touched by the healing power of art.
My desire, as an artist, is to see my art make a difference in a positive way, by sharing the memories of a child when life was new and fascinating. Nature through the magical eyes of a child’s remembrance is a reminder that spring will come again with hope for a new day.