Faced with many Oklahoma days of being alone while my children went to school and my husband being at work in and out of town, I found that painting spring flowers made me feel like myself. I found a small picture in a magazine of a Dutch iris. I was a serious gardener raising all kinds of iris. I was free to interpret what I saw. The first painting was a ‘half sheet’ softly and loosely painted called Iris Delicata.
This painting won First Place Watercolor at “The Orange Blossom Affair Juried Fine Art Exhibit” the Valley Artists League, Arizona State Capitol, Phoenix, Arizona from March 22 to 24, 1985. Skylight Iris was the last painting I would have placed money on to win a ‘Best of Show’! Stranger things have happened. In October of 1985, I completed Skylight Iris on a ‘full sized’ painting on heavy deckle edged watercolor paper. Where in the world did the name ‘Skylight’ come from? Interesting.
My father’s mother, Mora Wilson Eads Klein, inherited a two-story family business/apartment building in Sedalia, Missouri; 612 and 614 South Ohio. It was actually two buildings joined together, with a stairway up the middle from the street sidewalk. At the top of the stairs was a huge landing that led to, originally, apartments. The ceiling was crowned with a huge skylight. Grandmother always muttered under her Southern breath about the leaking skylight every time it rained and the expense to have it repaired. Me? I just spent a lot of time looking up at it. I held all kinds of papers and kaleidoscopes up to it over many years. I loved the way the colors became alive. I guess I have always loved backlit compositions, as they remind me of stained glass windows. At this point in my life, I could see a gnat’s eyelash. I was able to paint the whole piece without any masking or frisket. I had a steady hand and sharp eye. Boy, I wish I had that back again.
The only show Skylight Iris was accepted into was “National Watercolor Oklahoma 12th Exhibition” at the Oklahoma Art Center in OKC from September 13 to October 26, 1986, by Maxine Masterfield. I didn’t wanted to risk losing this painting, so I never entered it again into competition. It is still a beautiful, stained glass painting.