I should start by telling you how I did it. First of all, I picked one of the most respected artists and teachers in the Los Angeles area, Sergei Bongart. I was in my early twenties when I started studying with Sergei. He had a thick Russian accent. His education was also in Russia. He was considered one of the best artists and colorist. His bold brushwork was highly thought of.
In order to pay for my lessons, I had to find a way to make money. I had been trained in high school to do scenery for stage plays so I did murals for the great sum of $35 a wall. I could do them fast using a dry brush technique. At this time, you could buy groceries for a week with $35. I worked quickly using acrylic and water-based paint. I had two small boys not yet in school. My mom helped to watch them on days I had murals. I also worked at night, whenever possible, so my husband could babysit.
One of the greatest things that happened to me was meeting Hal Reed. Not only was he a great painter, but he was a knowledgeable teacher. Hal saw my talent. He worked with me giving me a good education. I taught for the Art League of Los Angeles, a highly respected school founded by Hal Reed. I taught there for many years with full classes. Hal was always searching for new horizons. He saw the need for video teaching. He started Art Video Productions. I was one of the six teachers used. Hal made over 100 tapes himself, and I made 52 tapes covering landscape, seascape, portrait, figure and floral.The tapes were done the same year I decided to write a book. I contacted North Light Publications. They gave a contract to do my first book Painting Floral Still Life. It was a great success and went into several printings. Book 2 was Oil Painting, a Direct Approach. The third book was Painting Flowers with Joyce Pike. All three were good sellers. My royalties were good but the publicity was even better.
I also had several articles done by art magazines, Art of the West, International Artist, Southwest Art and The Artist’s Magazine. I worked with print companies such as Portal, Leaning Tree, Bentley House and Haddad and also a company in Great Britain.
My teaching took up most of my time. I worked for several schools. The two most important schools were Scottsdale Artists’ School and the Art League of Los Angeles. My teaching gave me little time to paint for galleries so I started doing traveling workshops. These took me all over the world. The good part about traveling workshops is they are done by the travel agencies. All I had to do was the teaching and enjoy the trip. When I started to produce paintings for galleries, I did well with thirteen galleries at one time.
This is only a part of what I did to achieve my art career. Most men get their education and go to commercial art to get started. Many then go to fulltime painting, leaving the commercial art world behind. Some women do the same. I couldn’t get my education first. I just didn’t have the money. I did it anyway; the hard way.
There are many great women artists out there who are alive today and many who did well that have passed on. The answer is talent. If you are good, that may be all it takes. We all know there have been many who were just lucky, not as talented but did it anyway.