Virginia Lee Williams
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Virginia was a self-taught artist. I first knew of her as a sumi-e painter, but typical of Virginia, she didn't just paint small black-ink images on paper. She painted colorful Oriental designs on large screens, among other things. Our paths crossed occasionally in the 1970s and 1980s in watercolor workshops. I'm not sure of the year, but Virginia went to England with several artist friends and fell in love with Cornwall. There she met artist Roy Ray, who was doing experimental work by layering torn papers, gessoing the surface, and painting with fluid acrylics. She took workshops with Ray and experimented in her own studio, developing a distinctive style of abstract collage painting.
In 1998 I was working on my book, The Creative Artist,and couldn't find abstract collage art to illustrate the chapters on design and abstraction. I'd seen a few of Virginia's pieces, so I called and asked to see her work. I was so taken with it that I used several in the book. After it was published, I spoke to the Tri Art Club one morning and Virginia suggested we collaborate on a collage book. I could hardly believe what I heard--I'd been thinking about that myself and had planned to approach her after my creativity book was launched. We worked for more than two years on
Creative Collage Techniques. Our book has been a bestseller in art instruction, continuing in print for more than 16 years.
I can't begin to describe how much fun we had learning and playing with collage as we developed the book. She encouraged me to join the Society of Layerists and Multi Media (SLMM), which greatly expanded my understanding of the spiritual nature of the medium. Over the next few years we traveled to SLMM gatherings in San Antonio, Texas; Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Taos, New Mexico; and to various shows in Ohio. Virginia was also a member of the National Collage Society, the Tri Arts Club of Dayton, and the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors. She also taught workshops throughout the United States.
Virginia closed her art studio several years ago. Her paintings were quite large and the physical effort of moving them and doing the work became difficult. She still had a lot of energy, however, and when she and her husband, Ken, moved into a condo, Virginia served on the condo association board and continued to make new friends there.
Wherever she is now, I know she has already made many new friends and has been warmly greeted by all who knew her in this life.