Cleda Curtis-Neal began her career in portrait painting in 1970. Since then she has lived and traveled extensively in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, where she has executed many commissioned portraits. The personality and spirit of her subjects are captured in thoughtful, reflective moods. She paints with honesty and feeling, always staying true to the likeness. While many hours of careful work are done by the artist in her studio, the procedure requires only a few hours of the subject’s time. Her usual method is to meet with the subject in his or her own environment or in her studio. There she does a color study and series of photographs. With this material she returns to the quiet of her own studio and paints the finished portrait. Whether working in oil, pastel or watercolor she creates her portraits in the realistic tradition, treating children with the same dignity as adults.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas, Cleda attended graduate school at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. She then studied with many portrait painters around the country including Daniel Greene and John Howard Sanden. Her teaching ability is the result of many years of world travel and study of the Old Masters. Through her studies in museums, universities and respected and private workshops taught by the nation’s leading artists, Cleda has become a respected and well-known teacher in her own right. In 1988 she became internationally known through the publication of her instructional book, Portrait Painting Simplified. She has designed her workshops to encourage the beginner and to strengthen the ability of the advanced artist. Her willingness to share her knowledge coupled with her sensitivity to the needs of the student have made her a very popular and successful teacher. Many of her students have established their own careers in art and return periodically to attend her workshops. Using the still life in her class work, she teaches the basic principles of painting and drawing that artists have used for hundreds of years. As did the Old Masters, she believes in learning and passing it on.