Patient and persistent are two words that describe me well. I must be a magnet for the things in life that take the most time to accomplish. If I'm going to do something, I want to do it well.
IN THE BEGINNING
I was raised most of my childhood in Arizona. The second born of four, I was never much like my siblings. My mother remembers that I had a very long birth. The others were out in half the time. I've always had a very active imagination. My interest in figurative art started at an early age, when I mastered the use of basic tools. I remember building a 5ft. model of Pinocchio with my father's hammer, nails and some scrap wood. His head was of papier mache. To my disappointment, Pinocchio failed to take on life. When I was denied the ownership of a guinea pig, I made one out of my mother's nylon stockings. To me he was almost real. My parents would sometimes wake up to find the results of my nocturnal creations, such as life-sized stuffed animals. Not little puppies and kittens, but a gorilla, monkeys, and a 6 ft. giraffe, with a wooden frame for my jungle-themed room. I have passed this art on to my nephews.
I had different interests than most of the others in the family, who were into science and business. I did learn the use of tools by watching my father and by helping him with projects around the house. He has always had the ability to see different ways to solve problems in construction. I inherited that from him. It is an important element in executing my work. My parents were tolerant of my creative needs. My mother has very nurturing qualities. I have inherited that from her and I think it shows in my work. My grandfather inspired me both with his artistic talent and his respect for nature and wild creatures. I loved animals and I often took photos of mine dressed in the latest fashions.
My family moved around from time to time, and state to state due to my father's work. My early college days were spent not knowing who I wanted to be in life. I was given the impression at an impressionable age that art wouldn't be a profitable profession. Probably true. I reluctantly began my first studies at the University of Utah in Fashion Merchandising. I quit when my father's job took us to North Dakota. It was then that I felt it was time to leave the nest and fly south for the winter. I returned to sunny Tucson in the early 70's. I worked for artist Ted De Grazia as a member of the De Grazia Guild. I created dolls in the image of the children in his paintings, which were authorized and signed by both De Grazia and myself. It was a wonderful adventure working with him and I have many great memories.
My parents continued moving around the Midwest, having shed a few children along the way. As they settled in different states, I would visit and enroll in the local universities and colleges. I guess "gypsy" was in my blood. While studying Fashion Merchandising at Illinois State University, I noticed a class in figurative sculpture being offered at the graduate level. I persuaded the professor, Keith Knoblock, to let me enroll in the class without first taking the prerequisites. He reckoned it would be ok as long as it wasn't my major. It was then that I found my passion. I was hooked. Upon returning to Tucson, I enrolled in a figurative sculpture class at the Tucson Museum of Art, which was taught by Tom Barringer. He was instrumental in encouraging me to pursue my degree and he further fueled my passion for the arts. From the Tucson Museum of Art, I studied Fine Art at the University of Arizona for a year. My family moved to Kansas and my next college adventure took me to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, where I studied Bronze Casting with another great professor, Elden Tefft. It was with Mr. Tefft that I learned a great deal about detail and organization. I became an active participant in casting my own bronze figures. I loved the thrill of the pour and the danger of liquid bronze droplets dancing around my feet, as I was frozen in concentration. At the same time I was studying at the University of Kansas, I was enrolled in another sculpture class at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. I wanted to learn as many different techniques as possible. I experimented with other forms of sculpture including stone carving. I became quite good with a chisel. During my time in Kansas, I was a frequent visitor of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The 11th-12th century Chinese wooden sculpture of the Bodhisattva Guanyin in the Asian collection particularly intrigued me. It later became the subject of one of my mosaics. After I returned to Tucson, I completed my studies in the arts at the University of Arizona and received my BFA in 1985.
LIFE AFTER SCHOOL
My life took an unexpected turn when I met my future husband, an English engineer consultant who worked solving irrigation problems in exotic places I had never even dreamed of visiting. We lived in and visited countries such as Indonesia, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and many others. I was fortunate to be able to immerse myself in the cultures of other people. I trekked the Himalayas and deep sea fished the turquoise seas off the coast of Kendari, Sulawesi. Inspiration filled my soul. I explored the ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Kiva with my English friend Wendy Knee, a life coach and the author of "Never Die Wondering". We won't. Wendy helped to free my spirit of adventure and gave me a less than gentle nudge to explore new avenues in life and find my inner voice. The tile work and mosaics we saw in those ancient cities were breathtakingly beautiful. I loved the Russian Ballet in Uzbekistan and the streets lined with artists selling their work. I have remained good friends, over the years, with three wonderful artists from Uzbekistan, who have inspired me and given me encouragement---Dmitriy Novakov, Anna Ivanova, and Dmitriy Akunbabaev. A few years later, I visited Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with Wendy Knee and two other English friends. It was a thrilling experience filled with a little danger and great inspiration for my work.
Tucson was always my home base. When we were home, we were always building or remodeling. My house was my canvas. Inside, I have experimented with mosaic techniques and various other decorating ideas. Outside, my four nephews and I have created a mosaic sculpture garden.
Art is my passion. My mosaics continue to evolve at a rapid rate with each new idea. In the last few years, I've come to believe "the sky is the limit", with the addition of my kiln, a clay roller, texture tools and a good saw. When considering the price of one of my pieces, it is important to realize how much work and expense is involved in completing one of my mosaics in particular. I've moved on from breaking pieces of tile to cutting every piece, no matter how small. It takes an incredible amount of time and patience from the conception of the idea, to the making of the pattern and creating the work of art. I put my whole heart into every mosaic. The tools and materials I use are expensive, as is the electricity for firing the tiles. I make all of my tiles and many go through multiple firings. I love to experiment with combinations of glazes to achieve a painterly effect. I often fire several combinations of colors before I arrive at the perfect blend. I may use as many as 18 colors of grout in one mosaic. Figures are still my main inspiration in my work. After a lot of practice and patience, I have developed glazing techniques, which work well in that area.