I was born and raised in Huntington, WV, and developed my creativity from an early age. Music was prevalent in our home and playing the piano came naturally to me. My parents noticed that I danced when I heard music so they sent me to take ballet lessons at age seven (which I continued for 16 years). That segued into theater productions in high school and at Marshall University. In 1968 I was off to New York City! A fledgling actor traditionally trains in all of the performing arts so I began acting classes, vocal studies, foreign language lessons, fencing and tap dancing. Auditions led to musical theater and opera performances. Years later I worked on my musical choices and arrangements, hired a band, and performed cabaret at several Manhattan clubs. During this time I fell in love with photography, and since it's often about whom you know, and because I knew lots of theater people, I began my photography career.
For 30 years I maintained a portrait studio in Manhattan. I also photographed events: jazz concerts, theatrical productions, recording studio sessions, CD/DVD cover art, weddings, and performers' publicity photos. My work has appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Billboard, Playbill. As my need to draw and paint became stronger I went to my photography mentor, Bruce Cahn, who advised me to learn to draw. Giving myself permission to put pencil and paint to paper and canvas, and actually seeing my 'product' has always given me great joy. At The Art Students League in New York City, I took a one-week intensive workshop with draftsman and painter Francis Cunningham. It was like jumping into deep water feet first, trial by fire! The lessons were great and further fed my ambition. Shortly thereafter, I frequented the 5:00 sketch groups at the ASL and other studios around the City. Learning to paint was my next leap so I took a one-month class with Mary Beth McKinsey. The three paintings I did in her class still hang on the walls of my home. Shortly thereafter, I learned that the great painter, Peter Cox, would be teaching a five-day intensive workshop at the ASL. Studying with him there, and at the American Academy of Art, the National Academy of Art, and at his own private studio, truly challenged and inspired me. Living in New York City, where many great artists live and teach, I have benefitted from additional study with several of them, including Costa Vavagiakis, Henry Wong, and Steven Assael. Each experience gives me more tools to express myself, more inspiration, and more confidence and respect for the creative process. I continue to occasionally look at the world through my camera lens, but seeing my subject directly - human or otherwise - is what gives me the greatest reward. Wherever I go, I carry with me a pad of paper, a pen, a pencil, and curiosity. My goal is always to describe what the ever-changing world looks like, as it gives me joy any time of day or night, wherever I may be.
It takes emotional support to commit to the worlds of Music and Art and I've gotten it in spades. Big influences along my journey include my parents, who encouraged me every step of the way; and family friends - Robert Stinson, MaryAnn Wotring (who offered me a space to live), and Chuck Barnett (who convinced me I could make it in New York); Jerry and Jean Russak, and Rob Thirkield, who trained and facilitated my vocal development; artist Bruce Cahn, who taught me how to load a camera, take pictures, and do my own darkroom work (developing and printing), and who continues to mentor my art work. I am also indebted to Anne Phillips, who hired me, a complete novice in 1985, to photograph jazz concerts and recording sessions, and through whom I met my husband, Bill Mays, who continues to support my desire and need to find my creative 'voice'. There are so many more who have helped me on this journey than I can possibly name. I'm luckier than Ringo Starr!
In November 2019 I'll be inducted as a member of The National Association of Women Artists. Nov. 5-29, 2019, my painting, "Obsession", oil on linen board, will be in a group exhibit at the NAWA Gallery, 315 W. 39th Street, Suite 508, NY, NY. The opening reception will be held on November 14, 2019, 3-5. I was proud that my painting, "A Day In New York #3" (seen on this site), a watercolor, was recently exhibited at The Church of the Heavenly Rest Art Show, 1085 Fifth Avenue at 90th Street, NYC.
Top: Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy
Bottom: Cadaquez, Spain