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Earning a BS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Related Art stoked my passion for fibers, fabrics, and fashion. In the 1980s Johanna Axelrod and I partnered in a retail yarn shop in Green Bay, WI and stocked it with supplies for area fiber artists. My original needlework designs appeared in national magazines.
In 1986 I returned to the University of Wisconsin and studied graphic design. Fortunately I began my career in graphics at the time the computer was first used as a design tool, and was able to learn those skills right along with more experienced designers. This professional experience gave me a good level of confidence on the computer. I worked as an art director and account executive for advertising agencies, Lawrence University, and Arketype, a design firm. It was at Arketype that I tried my hand at doing some watercolor illustrations for a client’s product graphics. When the client liked the paintings and the resulting products were marketed nationwide at Target and Home Depot, I started thinking in terms of a career as an illustrator/painter.
Since 1998, I have been a freelance artist. My trusty Mac computer, along with my digital camera, are integral to my creative process. I spend summers on a small lake in northern Wisconsin with my husband Dick and our border collie. The studio has windows facing the lake, and is comfortably messy with a lifetime collection of art and craft supplies. We spend winters in a community of artists in Sarasota Florida. The family creativity was passed on, as our daughter Katy Gray is a photographer and son Bob Parins is a singer/songwriter.
Frequent trips around the US and occasionally Mexico and Europe have provided fresh input and helped to develop my way of seeing. In recent years, I’ve found joy in teaching watercolor workshops. Live demonstrations keep me humble!