A lifelong resident of California, raised in Bakersfield, I now reside in the city of Poway, located in San Diego County. I am a wife, mother to Kevin and David, mother-in-law to Heather and Kim, and grandmother of seven.
I used to be the one standing around watching others paint, wishing I could do that and saying "I cannot paint", until one day when I took my first painting class. I was hooked. Who knew all those many years ago that painting would turn into a career for me? I have been painting now for over 35 years and have gone from student to teacher to publisher to shop owner and now travel teacher. I have loved every part of it.
I have been fortunate to have access to many excellent teachers. Whenever possible, I have traveled and taken seminars from teachers who I knew would help me grow as a painter. I owe everything to the teachers I studied with along the way. Without them, I could not have accomplished what I have today. A good foundation can lead you in many positive directions.
I started designing in the early 90s. My husband, Charlie, and I went on the road to conventions, selling our wares. We would drive around the country and set up booths where we sold patterns, books, and surfaces. We loved it! This year has taken a new turn for us and I'm doing more travel teaching, both nationally and internationally. Charlie keeps the home fires burning and the coffee hot for when I return. He has turned into my own personal taxi to and from the airport. He also fills orders from the website and is an all-around helper. I could not do what I do without his help! So far he is not into basecoating. Darn!
The question I am most often asked is, "Where does your inspiration come from?" For me, it comes from all directions -- my students, gift shops, books and magazines, and even from looking at a blank surface. I have always said that I'm a wood decorator. Wonderful pieces of wood inspire me. Show me a great box with a drawer and ball feet and I can decorate it on all sides.
Inspiring other painters is very important to me. I love to teach and to get students to move "outside the box". There are no rules to art; we just have to let ourselves go. I love what I do and I'm hoping my laid-back art style makes everyone as happy as it does me.
I've always enjoyed being creative. Growing up in Northern Michigan, the winters were long, so I spent many hours sewing, crafting, and even painting by number! My Home Economics teacher in High School, Kay Gremel, was amazing, so naturally I earned my degree in Education and taught Home Economics in Rockford, Michigan. When I became married and we had our daughter, Anne, I wanted to stay home for her early years and enjoy watching her grow. It was during this time that I discovered Decorative Painting classes at a local quilt store. One lesson painting Millie Smith strokework and I was hooked!
Shortly after, a friend invited me to our local West Michigan Decorative Artists class where the teacher was Judy Diephouse. Judy was teaching out of her home at the time and my friends and I asked if she would add another class and include us. She said 'Yes!" For many years I thought she agreed because we were charming and fun, but truth be told, she had orthodontist bills to pay. I took classes from Judy for several years and we formed a close friendship. Now Anne was old enough for school... what to do? Should I return to teaching? I loved Decorative Painting! Judy suggested that we paint for art and craft shows in the Chicago area, and paint we did! With the support of my husband, Frank, for the next 10 years I painted 10 hours a day, 7 days a week to build up stock for the 4-5 day long Arts Plus shows. I learned to paint faster, with less and less pattern, and along the way developed my own style.
The natural progression continued with our first booth at the Heart of Ohio Tole Convention, teaching there and at every convention available. Then we met Prudy Vannier who was beginning her publishing business, and she asked us to do our first book. How excited we were! Ribbons and Roses became a reality and the first of almost 30 books we have published. Numerous pattern packets, magazine articles, and travel teaching assignments later, I still love a day of Decorative Painting.
I saw my first pieces of Decorative Art at a store in 1973. I thought they were items for sale, but learned they were samples for a painting class. After our last child was born, my husband encouraged me to take the classes. Within a year, i was teaching a small group of aunts and cousins to paint. I taught in my home studio for over 20 years. During that time I also started to teach at HOOT and other conventions, and sold my paintings at local art and craft shows.
After meeting Lynne Deptula at our local chapter, we soon formed a partnership and did several art and craft shows each year, often traveling to do them.
With encouragement from HOOT members and students, we started doing pattern packets in 1994. This was soon followed by writing books. Soon art shows were replaced by a travel teaching and convention schedule. We formed our company under the name of Distinctive Brushstrokes.
About 10 years ago, being empty nesters, my husband and I down-sized to a small home on a lake. Alas -- a much smaller painting studio, but a much nicer view from the studio. We live in the wonderful little town of Rockford, MI. We are the proud parents of three children and ever prouder grandparents of five grandchildren. I have been blessed by my Heavenly Father with a loving, supportive husband, a supportive family and friends. He blesses me daily with health and the desire to keep designing and painting.
I use DecoArt Americana paint almost exclusively in my designing and painting. I enjoy their creaminess and the ease of use on many types of surfaces. My busy schedule does not always allow time to play with new products, but I know that I can trust the DecoArt products to produce the results I want. I am often overwhelmed by the support the DecoArt company gives to the teachers of Decorative Art. A huge thank you to everyone there!
Our books and patterns are carried by a variety of distributers and shops. You can always check what is currently being sold on our website, where you can also find my current teaching schedules and the classes being offered at the various conventions.
After 33 years as a Decorative Painter, I still get as excited as ever about telling anyone who will listen that they need to paint! I have been active in the Bluebonnet Chapter in Arlington, Texas, for 20 years and have held almost every office, sometimes several at once.
My Chapter honored me by nominating me for the Chapter Service Award from SDP in 2010. I couldn't believe it when I won -- it was the greatest honor of my life.
I currently live in Mansfield, Texas, in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. My husband, Zeno, and I are both constant volunteers when we aren't traveling. I have been teaching for 20 years and I am currently teaching at Unique Woods, "Almost Every Tuesday!"