I began in 1952 while my father was on teacher exchange for a year in Southport, Lancashire, England with my family. This gave me the good fortune of dual UK/US citizenship. We all returned to Illinois, USA, where I grew up, mainly in Elgin near Chicago.
After completing school, I went to La Verne College, just north of Los Angeles, California, where I studied Social Psychology and trained as a teacher of nursery and primary school. I came to England at the end of my studies and undertook student teaching in the Robin Hood Infant’s School in Sutton, Surrey.
I then spent 5 glorious months hitch-hiking along the south coast of England and up through Wales before running out of money.
After trying unsuccessfully to set up in London, I took a job running a nursery school on a traveller’s site in St Albans, Herts.
Then I moved onto another site at Hemel Hempstead as a paid ‘mum’ to a lovely family of orphaned traveller children. While working there, I took an evening class in pottery and fell in love with it.
I moved to North Norfolk and worked as a demonstrater thrower at Holkham Pottery for a couple of years before setting up my own pottery in my home in Binham.
This extremely enjoyable time in my life lasted 10 years. In this time, I met my life-long partner, Barry Charles Bacon, and this culminated in the birth of my wonderful daughter, Hannah Maria Nelson. This was the beginning of the most rewarding and fulfilling job of all – motherhood.
Early on I found the verses for Patterns Of Light happening of their own accord during car journeys. Singing soothes babies and I originally sang the verses to the tune of “The Sun Has Got His Hat On”.
When my daughter started school, I began looking round for a new profession. I took a class on calligraphy and dabbled with that a-while. It was during this time that I completed the calligraphy for Patterns Of Light, thinking to make it into a book for my daughter only.
As I continued with calligraphy, I found it would be useful to learn to paint in order to do illustrations and embellishments. My friend, Leon Liddament, who is a professional icon painter, offered to teach me to paint. I spent 3 years as apprentice in his icon studio at St.Seraphim’s Church in Little Walsingham before setting up on my own as a painter at my home near Wells-Next-The-Sea.
My first commission came in 2000 for 3 large (7’ x 3’) paintings of Norfolk Saints for the St.John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich.
They still reside there behind the altar. The saints depicted are St, Felix, St. Edmund and St. Etheldrayda.
Around this time, I discovered Leslie Kenton’s book, “Journey to Freedom” and became fascinated. I did the course of Shaman journeys within the book, and found a whole world of amazing imagery and wisdom. This, combined with my new painting skills began a flurry of work which eventually came together in Patterns of Light.
All the paintings in Patterns of Light, though not done in the style of icons, were painted using traditional egg tempra paints on gessoed board.