I began painting in oils on canvas at the age of three. My mother was an oil painter and she set up an easel for me to keep me busy so that she could paint. Within a couple of years, I was correcting her perspective and showing her to more accurately mix the colors she wanted. At the age of five, I received my first painting commission from strangers. They had seen one of my paintings at a neighbor’s house. They called and asked to speak to me. When they came to the house to start the commission, they were surprised that I was a child but decided to go ahead and hire me. At the age of nine, my mother came to me and gave me her metal Grumbacher paint box and Gainsborough brushes and told me that I was obviously going to be the artist in our family. After attending art school, I became an artist-in-residence in the South Carolina Arts Commission’s programs as a painter printmaker. I won an award for excellence.
My career was on a high with publishing contracts and international agent and multiple galleries representing my work when I was in a car wreck. The wreck left me with an explosion fracture of my cervical vertebrae. I lost my fine motor control and spent years in physical therapy. I also lost all my contracts, agents, and galleries. I retrained and became a financial planner eventually opening my own firm. After I recovered the ability to paint again, I stayed in the business, painting at nights and weekends because I had a daughter and was taking care of my father who was in his 90s.
One day at work I was having trouble seeing the numbers on my computer screen. When I went to the eye doctor expecting a correction to my glasses I was told to expect complete blindness within two years and that it could happen suddenly at anytime. I surrendered all my licenses and certifications and sold my business. At this time, I found out from my sister that my dad had been talking with her about moving to live with her. When I asked him about it, he said that he was 101 and he decide he wanted to go live with my sister, “…while I am still young enough to enjoy it.”
With my daughter grown, my dad was going to live with my sister, and my business gone, I decided to move to the beach to live with my high school sweetheart who I had begun dating after our 40th high school reunion. My intention was to paint until the lights went out and then learn therapeutic massage and switch to sculpture.
After moving to the beach an increased medical treatment on my eye condition stabilized my eyes. Now I am at high risk but stable and not expected to go blind in the immediate future.
I am producing artwork and pursuing a teaching position. One of the programs I am particularly proud of currently working in is the Arts Access SC, which works with the disabled.