LAC Professional Member
Dottie Blair / Misty Peak Pavilion

"Restfulness""Restfulness" When I was six years old, we moved to Korea. My father was an electrical engineer who helped to build the electrical power infrastructure before the Korean War. Spending a lot of time with our servants, they taught me the language almost immediately and often when they went out they’d drag me along. I loved going to the University. One day someone showed me an inkstone, an inkstick and a brush and I was hooked for life! I soon got a set of my own and played with it until I wore out the brush. Our maid tried to teach me some calligraphy strokes and I practiced them but I never learned to do them properly — much to my sorrow. But ever since that first day, I’ve always had a calligraphy set. I always admired Chinese landscape paintings — thought they were so unique in their striking simplicity. In my wildest dreams I never believed that I could learn to paint them. But years later, when my husband went to Viet Nam, the children and I lived in Taipei, Taiwan and I had an opportunity to study this fascinating art style.

"Temple of Universal Peace""Temple of Universal Peace" My paintings exemplify my passion for Chinese temples and palaces. I love painting them and I suppose that may stem from the fact that I played in one as a child — a thrill I can still recall. It was across the street and down the block from my house and all the neighborhood children gathered there in the afternoons to play. It would have been amusing to observe us — we knew that this had indeed been a place of royalty and we were very respectful. None of us made much noise. We were very quiet — oh, now and then there were some imperious commands made, but only appropriate ones! "Sanctuary Under Murmuring Pines""Sanctuary Under Murmuring Pines" We had a lot of fun there — it was an experience I’ll always treasure.

It wasn’t until I began to study painting that I learned to “see,” rather than just to look. What a difference that makes! Now I hardly see telephone wires and poles and mentally eliminate other interferences as I view scenery and imagine it in a frame. I always wish I had my camera along with me and I’ve tried to learn to stick it in my bag everywhere we go. I’ve learned that my cell phone is NOT a good substitute!

I work a lot from photographs, sometimes putting a couple of them together to get everything I want into a scene. I also work from art and travel books and photos of the works of old Chinese Masters. I am inspired by many of them and frequently base a painting on one of their works.

"Jade Mountain Pavilion""Jade Mountain Pavilion" I try to show as much detail as possible when I paint, because that is what makes it interesting to me. Simply the outline of a pagoda doesn’t show you the temple bells hanging from each corner or an old monk who may be peering out of an archway. I want to see everything and I want to show it to you as well.

On my last trip to China, traveling with Professor Ning Yeh, a renowned author and instructor, who has lead tours of American artists through China for years, we had the honor of having tea with the curator of the Royal Library in Cheng De. He said it was such a pity that most of the upcoming Chinese artists are all painting very modern things and that they now look to American artists like us to paint the beautiful scenes they have always admired. We all appreciated it, whether or not it was true, and enjoyed our privileged trip through the library.

"Fishing & Napping on an Autumn Day""Fishing & Napping on an Autumn Day" I love the graceful calligraphy that is written on many Chinese paintings but my calligraphy is best left undescribed! I am studying Xu Bing’s Square Word Calligraphy which is a fascinating art of writing English words in a style that looks like Chinese calligraphy. If I am successful at this, I may consider adding a short line or two on a painting — but only if I think it adds to the effect! No “chicken walked through the ink and onto my painting” look for me!

Before we returned to Virginia, I was a member of the Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville in South Carolina for six years. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet art patrons and work directly with clients. It led to some teaching and it was a pleasure working with the other artists.  I miss that.

—Dottie Blair