I am a Master Pastelist and honorary Life Member in the Pastel Society of America (PSA), a Copley Artist in the Copley Society of Boston, and a Craftsman in the Lexington Arts and Crafts Society, which is my home base.
My first teacher was my grandmother, Sara Hayes Fawcett. She studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in the 1890s and with Howard Pyle in Philadelphia. She switched from oil to pastel when she started doing portraits of her children. She first drew me when I was about three months old, drawing me several more times before she died when I was ten.
After high school, I followed in my grandmother’s footsteps and studied at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in the early 1950s. My time at The Barnes Foundation from 1951-1953 was of major importance in my learning. The first year I studied with Violette deMazia and the second with my friend Barton Church. At Barnes I was taught the plastic elements that make a painting a picture.
Pastels had been my grandmother’s medium, and I had her box, but I didn’t switch from oils to pastel until I discovered the work of Janet Monafo in 1987. I studied with Janet for two years in an Adult Ed. Program and my work improved exponentially. The year she was the PSA honoree my painting – a self portrait – hung beside her and got a prize! My painting is hung as a diamond and is very crowded with cats and drawings.
After switching to pastels as my main medium, I gave my oil paints to Debby Hadden, another granddaughter of Sara Hayes Fawcett, who was starting to paint seriously. Debby sent me a painting she did from a photo of my youthful husband driving a horse and hayrake. Debby’s painting found its way into the background of one of my self-portraits.
In recognition of my self portrait work PSA is designating me as the Hall of Fame Honoree for 2021, which really surprised me. I thought it was for serious people like Janet! I am serious about making pictures, but I am also serious about my family and about my Quaker life, which includes everything from Quaker meeting for worship and committee work up to demonstrations for peace and justice. I picture these aspects of my life as a three-legged stool, and if the legs aren’t pretty equal, it doesn’t work.
Part of my Quaker life that overlaps with my artist life was the creation of an Exhibits Committee to display the artistic expression of members of the Friends Meeting community. This has been a good way for us to get to know each other in different ways. Art is communication. In the summer of 2021 we asked people to share work that helped them stay sane during the pandemic quarantine. Once, a serious social activist asked me what good my artwork did for social justice. All I could say was that I thought the world was probably better off with me sane in it than not. He’s kept a cautious distance ever since.