Q: Did you always know you were an artist?
A: Yes and No. I always made art and created things since I was a little girl, but it came so naturally, I never called myself an artist. I would draw at the kitchen table with my older brother and sister; it’s what we did in our family. Then I got older, started making my art professionally and people started calling me an artist. I guess I’ve been one all my life, but didn’t always know it.
Q: Is anyone else in your family an artist?
A: Yes, my mother was a ballet dancer in New York City. She fully encouraged our family to use our imagination to constantly make art. There was always enough drawing paper, paints, pencils and clay at our house. My late brother, Curtis, was the best artist I ever knew. He had an amazing, imaginative, full-of-fantasy style and like me, was self-taught. I have a very creative sister as well and many of my cousins are extremely talented in the arts.
Q: How did your style emerge?
A: As I grew older, and made more and more art, whether it was drawing, painting or sculpting, it became evident that I had a distinct style. I’m not sure how it emerged, it just did – whenever I tried to draw or paint something photo-realistic, I just couldn’t do it – it always came out in a very unique way. Now I paint full time, almost everyday, and my art is more recognizable than ever. I’ve been told by experts that I have a unique imprint that they’ve never seen anywhere else. They recognize my paintings or drawings before they even see my name signed at the bottom!
Q: How did you invent Happy Dog?
A: I’ve always loved all animals and creatures, but dogs are especially close to my heart. In the early 80’s, when I lived in Key West, there used to be a pack of dogs that traveled and slept around town together. Whenever I saw them, I would always say, "Hey, hello Happy Dogs", it was then that I started painting a big, blue dog and called it "Happy Dog".
Q: What do you like most about painting?
A: The quiet place it takes me. I love the colors, I love using a brush, palette knife, my fingers. I love taking a white, blank canvas and just start painting without planning. Then, when I’m done, I stand back and see where it’s taken me. It’s very relaxing and healing for me. I also like watching people’s expressions as they look at my art. Their eyes widen and they begin to smile-- and that makes me feel good inside.
Q: Why do you think people are drawn to your images?
A: My paintings are big, colorful, vibrant and they make people feel good when they look at them. They are fun images executed with fine art quality. As you look closer, you discover the detail that makes up all the abstract patterns of design which enhances the subject matter.
Q: Do you have a personal favorite among your characters or paintings?
A: Yes, two of my favorites are Happy Dog and Blues Dog. Happy Dog has a great, big personality and is very lively. Blues Dog was created when I would show and paint in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. An older man who would come out on Sunday afternoons and play his saxophone for hours inspired me. I used to love to paint to his saxophone sound.