I was born in Salt Lake City and was raised in Emigration Canyon just east of the city. My childhood was far from typical. Days were spent hiking and exploring the beautiful hills surrounding my home and playing make believe with my brothers and sisters. One game I especially loved to play was 'Cowboys and Indians.” Going to school involved a two hour bus trip, which I used the time to sketch. I loved to draw from an early age.
My father had studied to be a commercial artist but then world war two started and he was called to duty. When he returned there were not a lot of opportunities in Salt Lake for this profession, so he gave it up to support his growing family. He carried a small watercolor set with through the war and painted scenes of where he was. I loved to look at these and I decided that I wanted to study art, however my Dad having no luck in this field discouraged me telling me that it would just be a waste of my time.
This did very little to put out the flames of desire in me to pursue that dream, if anything it just pushed me to accomplish it!
I always loved horses and would play that I was riding one; my Grandfather loved horses too and would tell me stories about them when I was little. He told me that someday he would get me a horse. When I turned 15 he came walking up the street leading a beautiful Blue Roan mare, from that day on I would ride off into the hills bareback, I loved enjoying the scenery and being with my horse.
I have always loved nature and being in a quiet place to just sit and daydream. This was something I did often.
I was married at an early age, and had three children by the age of 28. Being a mother filled my days, but always in the back of my mind was a desire to do something creative. I did crafting and sewing but that was not "real" art and what I wanted was to learn how to paint.
When my daughter Teal, was about a year old a neighbor asked me if I wanted to go to an art class at the local high school with her. I jumped at the chance; the class was so big with at least 50 students that we rarely saw the teacher. One time when the teacher finally came to me, I asked him how to paint the clouds in my painting as I was struggling. His reply taught me many things, he said, 'Oh you can paint clouds with any brush or even with your finger.” Then he moved on!
That was of no help to me at all and in later years that remark came back to me when I was a teacher, if someone is asking how to paint something you show them, you do not just give them some idiotic answer! Plus, this man wore a wig, a very bad wig... and he never seemed to be able to keep it straight on his head, it was always cocked to the side, so when he would be telling me something I could not take my eyes off his wig.... needless to say I did not learn very much from him except that if I ever became a teacher I had the perfect example of what not to do!
After that I decided to teach myself. If I was not painting, I was reading about art. Eventually I had read all the art books the local library had so I started my own collection.
I studied every subject possible, from still life to portraits. I realized that all the books and subjects were just confusing me. I tend to paint tight, realistically, and a lot of the books on art taught how to paint loosely. I could not do it, when I did it looked horrible to me!
I firmly believe that we are born with either a loose way or a tight way of painting. It is sort of like our own handwriting. It is uniquely our own, and we cannot really change it. My students of many years proved this to me many times over. Some came to class the first time and painted very loose, others wanted to paint every detail. Sometimes they would try to change over but it never worked, they became frustrated and eventually went back to what was natural for them.
During this time I decided to just paint, paint, and paint! I needed to stop all the things that were confusing me. I wanted to develop my own style not someone else’s. I was looking for that special something that would fill my passion. Therefore, I painted every subject thinking that something would click.
Several of my neighbors asked me to teach them how to paint. I reluctantly said I would. In a very small room in my basement, I found that teaching was something I truly loved to do
In 1984 my 16-year-old son John, developed an avid interest in the history of the American Indians and Mountain Men. I had for some reason always felt a connection to the American Indians, history being one of my favorite subjects in school. I encouraged him to learn all he could about them. John like me, when curious about a something would read all he could find on the subject. He shared his knowledge with me and we would spend lots of time talking about it. Our family started attending all the Mountain Men Rendezvous and Indian Pow Wows we could find in our area.
While John learned how to do everything a Mountain Man would do, I sewed authentic things for my daughter, husband and for myself. I made myself an old Cheyenne design dress out of soft buckskin, adding over 75 tiny tin cones that jingled when I moved. I made my husband authentic moccasins and put beading on a pair I had.
During one very special rendezvous, I found a beautiful feather it was very shinny I put it in my hair and from then on I was known as 'Shining Feather.” That started something, since then I have never been on a trip where I did not find a beautiful feather, I have quite a collection now!
I was able to take many wonderful photos of mountain men and American Indians at these events and I began painting them.
One day tiring of this I decided to paint a still-life, so I looked around and saw an old Indian blanket and basket my husband’s father had given him and some pottery I had purchased on a trip to Wyoming.
I set up a still life and started painting it. After a few days working on it, I knew I had found what I wanted to paint! I had finally found the subject matter I had been searching for.
This first painting of an Indian blanket and pottery was the beginning of a long journey of discovery, excitement, and opportunity. Now I was checking books out from the library on the Ancient Indians of the southwest!
The First Southwestern Painting
As my interest grew, I decided that in order to paint something really well I needed to know everything I could about it. Researching through books was great but I wanted to experience the pottery, baskets and blankets and where they were made first hand.
In 1992, my husband and I went on a road trip to Mesa Verde. I wanted to learn all I could about the Anasazi people. As we climbed up the steep ladders and wound our way through the narrow passages, I felt a real connection with the Indians who had lived there. I knew I wanted to record some of the Anasazi pottery on canvas. We explored the museum looking at all the gorgeous pottery and blankets. I was amazed at how delicate and thin the pots were and how artistic the designs looked. Over the years we have traveled to most of the ruins and museums in the southwest, I never tire of seeing where these people spent their lives or created their beautiful pottery, baskets and blankets. It is always very inspiring to me to be where they once stood; the desert is one of the most beautiful places on earth especially in spring when the cactus are in bloom.
Upon arrival, back home I signed up to take a class at the University of Utah on primitive pottery making. Once again knowing an artist must have firsthand knowledge of a subject to be able to paint it with authenticity and make it communicate with the viewer I knew this was what I must do. I wanted to know how they felt when they were making their pots; I wanted to know how they did it down to the last detail.
We learned how to look for the earth that made good clay, how to boil the bee plant to make the black paint they used and how to make a brush out of a Yucca plant.
I sat in class for many days learning how to make coiled pots. I remembered how thin the real pots at Mesa Verde were and marveled at how they must have done it. I struggled to get mine to look symmetrical let alone thin! It was not easy and I came away with a greater respect for the many ancient potters.
We then put all of our finished ware into a fire using dung, which creates the beautiful black pottery the Santa Clara Indians created. As we sat on the lawn waiting for the firing to finish we kept hearing our pots bursting, it was very devastating! Out of the 10 pots I made only one came out of the fire in one piece. It is so hard to create a pot and have it fire correctly.
I had a friend who owned a Southwestern store in Park City, he wanted some of my art in his store, and he would loan me Navaho blankets to take home and photograph. I was able to take photos of pottery in his shop that I could use as reference. He was a lifesaver as there was no way I could ever purchase them.
Wanting to have more 'hands on' with the pots, I purchased a kiln and my husband and I
created some pottery I could use for my paintings.
After I completed one painting in particular that I loved, I decided to take a big leap of faith. I entered this painting into the C.M.Russell Art Exhibit and Auction in Great Falls Montana. This is one of the most prestigious shows an artist can ever hope to get in. I was truly shocked that my work was accepted for the auction. I am not exaggerating, shocked is putting it mildly!
This was the jumping off point for me; from there, I entered many exhibits and won many awards.
Art of the West magazine featured me in their magazine.
I went on to be in many galleries in the southwest and sold many pieces of art to people from all parts of the world. But being in the galleries had its drawbacks, I needed to paint faster, and a lot of the paintings I was doing at the time had fur in them. I was using a Script Liner to paint with and this would take a long time, doing one strand at a time. So with a lot of experimentation and brushes I had to discard, I developed my Shining Feather Soft Stroke brush for fur. I have since sold thousands all over the world. Many brush companies have tried to copy my brush but they have not been able to succeed. My brushes are one of a kind!
In the early 80's we built a very large studio on the back of our house. I called it the Shining Feather Art Academy for Women; I focused on women because for centuries they have not been taken seriously in the art field. I went from 5 students to over 50 a week. I taught from 1978 until 2004.
I have gone on to paint seascapes, landscapes, animals, floral and portraits loving each subject but always returning to my greatest passion the southwest.
In 2005 I was asked to write some instructional books for the beginner. I did three books using oils, painting my southwest subjects. After that I was asked to paint some Decorative art using acrylics for booklets. I love to share what I have learned and have strived to bring the 'fine art' aspect into the way I taught in the Decorative art books so the student could progress to a higher level of understanding and achievement.
I feel very blessed to have the ability to paint and to teach others. I believe that God gives us all some sort of talent and it should be shared. My southwestern still life paintings are sort of a tribute to the ancient American Indians; the artifacts in my paintings were used daily as practical tools for centuries. I have always found it fascinating that these primitive people, struggling to survive had the time and creative urge to produce such beautiful works of art. Each pot or blanket I paint has a story and a spirit of its own. If they could speak, imagine what we could learn about their creators.
It is very rewarding for me to know that these beautiful blankets and pots I have painted have given people all over the world the opportunity to own a part of the southwest culture that is rapidly disappearing in this modern age.
47 years’ experience as artist, teacher, designer and inventor.
*Owner and Instructor of Shining Feather Art Academy for Women
*Workshop Coordinator and Instructor for 26 years
*American Academy of Women Artists,
*Oil Painters of America,
*National Western Art Association
*Rocky Mountain Western Art Association
Fine Art Expo
*Festival of the American West, Utah State University
Logan, UT (invitational)
*8th North American Wildlife and Still life Exhibit,
Phranques Gallery, Salt Lake City, UT
*Salmon River Annual National Art Exhibit
*Day’s of 47’ Heritage Exhibit RMWAA
Salt Lake Art Center, Salt Lake City, UT
*Fourth Annual Art Center Exhibition
Central WY College Riverton WY
*Utah Women Artist’s Exhibit
Springville Art Museum, Springville, UT
*Utah Women’s Traveling Exhibit (year long)
*22nd Annual Art Show, Cody County Art League, Cody WY
*Rocky Mountain Western Art Association 3rd Annual Show
Sun Gallery, Park City UT (Invitational)
*Day’s of 47’ Annual Western Art Heritage Exhibit
Saxton-Sullivan Gallery, Salt Lake City, UT (invitational)
C.M. Russell Art Auction and Show
Great Falls, MT (2 pieces accepted)
*One Woman Show
El Mundo Magico Gallery, Sedona AZ
*National Western Art Show Ellensburg, WA
*C.M. Russell Art Auction and Show
Great Falls, MT (2 pieces accepted)
*Celebration of Western Art, WA
*Colorado Springs Western Art Auction
*Colorado Springs, CO
*Snake River Showcase, Clarkston, WA
Featured in magazine “Art Of The West” Nov/Dec Issue
*Phippen Memorial Day Art Show, Prescott AZ
*Western Academy Of Women Artists Exhibition and Show
*Desert Caballeros Western Museum Wickenburg, AZ
*Blackfoot Valley Art Auction
*C.M. Russell Art Auction and Show
10th. annual Student Scholarship Exhibit
*Oil Painters of America Regional Exhibition
Sangre De Cristo Art Center, Pueblo CO
Art and Soup Slat Lake City Ut
Delta Design Challenge
Shorr Gallery Annual Show
West Jordan, UT
Annual Bear River Historical and Indian Art Exhibit
45th Annual Regional Juried Art exhibit Grand Junction Co
National Western Art Show and Auction
Snake River Showcase
WRVAG Art show Dubois, WY.
"Best of Show"
Sweet Water Annual Exhibit
Rock Springs, WY
Peoples Choice and Winsor Newton Award
40th Annual Wind River National Exhibit
Sweetwater National Art Exhibit
Rock Springs, WY
*Walter Wendell- Great Falls, MT
*Bill Tamiette, Great Falls, MT
*John Blum, Elgin Ill
*Kodak Film Company
*Mickey Cohen, CT
*Gary Wilson, Pleasant Grove, UT
*Judy Jillian, UT
*Teal VanDongen, UT
*Sun Gallery, Park City, UT (4 years)
*Southwestern Expression, Park City, UT (5 years)
*Gallery of Art and Frame, Idaho Falls, ID (2 years)
*Garden of the Gods Gallery, Colorado Springs, Co
*The Gallery, Couer’d’Alane, ID
*Elkhorn Gallery, Jackson, WY
Hoffman Galleries Park City UT
*Jerry Anderson Gallery, St George, UT
*Authentic Arizona Gallery, Sandy, UT
*Canyon Spirit Gallery, Estes Park, CO
*El Mundo Magico Gallery, Sedona AZ (10 years)
*Agnisiuh Gallery, Hillside Courtyard, Sedona AZ (7 years)
*Golden Gecko Gallery, Sedona AZ (4 year
Painting the Southwest
Teach Yourself to Paint Seascapes and Clouds
Fairies of Enchanted Glen
Return of Fairies of Enchanted Glen
Scenes From The Mediterranean
Just a Pigment of My Imagination
"So Simple Color Workbook""
"Bloomin' Table Toppers"
Just a Pigment of My Imagination Vol. 2
Painting the Southwest
So Simple Color Workbook for Oils
So Simple Color Workbook for Acrylics
Shining Feather Soft Stroke Brush
Shining Feather Soft Scrub Brush Basin
Shining Feather Soft Glo Glazes