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Bertie Stephens in Dallas newspaper 2014

Hurst , TX

Bertie Stephens in Dallas newspaper 2014

Postby marcib » Fri Nov 07, 2014 12:30 pm

Below is a repost of an article in the Dallas Morning news Nov 1, 2014 about Bertie Stephens and her painting. Congratulations, Bertie !

Dallas Life: China is her canvas for a life of learning, love

http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/he ... g-love.ece


Special Contributor

Published: 01 November 2014 05:26 PM

Updated: 01 November 2014 05:26 PM

bertie dallas paper.jpg

Bertie Stephens of Hurst is often seen with a rolling bag in tow. It’s a miniature studio on wheels, with neatly arranged china painting supplies inside.

She hauls this portable art kit around to favorite art classes, workshops, conventions and demonstrations. She’s one of those creative types who can do a lot of things, but porcelain painting is her passion.

“I just love this,” Stephens, 71, says, holding a teacup with a more contemporary flower design.

She paints in various rooms of her home and has an on-site kiln. Her home’s walls, shelves and curio cabinets are full of tole-painted trays, cheeseboards, teacups, plaques and other cherished pieces.

Yet often when I ask her if she painted a particular piece, she says no and describes the friend who did. Her collection has a lot of pieces from other porcelain artists.

After about six inquiries, I start to wonder why.

“Well, I give all of my beloved pieces to my kids and other people,” she says.

Giving away her art

Stephens is a giver. She paints to share with others.

bertie dallas paper 2.jpg

In her kitchen, a pound-cake-scented candle fills the air. Some of her favorite works are on the table. She has asked her three adult children to bring back a few so she could show me some of her own favorites.

“This tray, I gave to my daughter and she uses it to display her jewelry on it,” Stephens says.

There’s an impressive cheeseboard on the wall, with delicate hand-painted roses.

Before learning how to paint plates, Stephens worked as a preschool teacher and in the banking industry. She also raised a family, shown on a hall wall full of smiling faces.

She fell in love with china painting while taking a class in the late 1990s from Lou Yates, another longtime painter in the area. She still takes classes from Yates, who is in her 80s now, and other area painters. Even though it’s a class, it’s also a visit with a longtime friend.

“What I love about this art is that there are so many techniques that you can learn that you never will get bored,” she says.

Stephens shows me quilts and a hand-beaded twirler uniform that she made for her daughter long ago. There’s a stunning vintage glass lamp on a bedside table painted with her signature antique roses.

She flicks the overhead light off as we leave the room, and I look back to see the antiques-filled bedroom illuminated with the painted lamp art.

Stephens was born in the tiny town of Pearl, near Hamilton. She moved to Pecos and graduated from high school there, then made her way to Hurst-Euless-Bedford in the mid-1960s.

Her mother could sew like there was no tomorrow. “She could look at a dress and make it,” she says.

Like mother, like daughter. Stephens shows me a picture of her wedding dress, which she made.

Class reunion

She shows me a photograph of more than 60 mugs that she painted with detailed, full-feathered eagles for classmates attending their Pecos High School reunion recently.

“My sister-in-law told me, ‘Bertie, now those look like decals.’ I told her, ‘Now shut your mouth, Jean!’” she says.

Every classmate at the reunion took home one of her hand-painted mugs with the Pecos Eagles mascot flying high.

bertie dallas paper3.jpg

In a curio cabinet in the front living room, there’s a beautiful cameolike pendant of her late husband, Danny.

The portrait sits next to his photograph. Her pendant painting is so true to Danny’s image that it looks like a photograph.

Danny worked in tool design at Lockheed Martin. He retired at 55.

“I said, you’re crazy for retiring, but I was so glad he did. He told me, life is short,” Stephens says. “We ending up having 10 wonderful years after he retired to enjoy life together, and we did.”

Danny knew all of the vendors at the porcelain painter conventions, and made friends with everyone.

He died 61/2 years ago.

She points to a beautiful chandelier hanging in the kitchen. It’s made of a porcelain tea set that she bought and painted. The best part of this project for Stephens is that her husband helped make it. He modified a found light fixture and engineered it all to come together perfectly.

The light fixture is a focal point in the house, and a conversation piece for all who enter.

bertie chandelier.jpg

“It took me awhile to paint again. I went to everything, but the first couple years after Danny passed away, it was hard to paint,” she says.

In August, Stephens wrapped up a term as president of the International Porcelain Artists and Teachers Inc. She’s still involved with the group, which is headquartered in Grapevine and has a small museum collection that is viewable by appointment.

Stephens has a large network of friends and pen pals from the interactions with china painters and various clubs.

“We are just one big family,” she says.

Stephens enjoys giving demonstrations and seminars. It spreads the word about the art that she adores. She hopes younger artists will take up the craft.

“In Europe, there’s a big surge in porcelain painting, with younger people taking more of an interest these days,” she says. “Porcelain painters are truly a big family and they are all very supportive of one another. There so much to learn and love about this art.”

Clare Miers is a Dallas freelance writer.

Find out more

Inquire about Bertie Stephens’ work and demonstrations by emailing her at Bertie.Stephens@aol.com.

Facebook: Bertie Bates Stephens

Learn more about the International Porcelain Artists and Teachers Inc. or inquire about a visit to the museum in Grapevine: ipatinc.com. 817-251-1185.

Learn about the State Federation of Texas Porcelain Art Clubs at texasporcelainartists.com.
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