A Legacy Of Art

Artists seem to thrive in the Northern Neck. Maybe it’s the landscape, the slow pace, or the inspiration of the Chesapeake. The region is home to many creative people, whose work has won admiration and critical praise.

Throughout the years, dedicated people have developed their own talent and nurtured it in others. Kathy Humphreys has experienced that nurturing first hand.

“I was eight years old when I began taking art lessons at Mrs. Miriam Haynie’s home in Reedville,” she said. “There were several other children in the class, and I remember that as a very peaceful, serene experience.”

Peaceful and serene are not two words that readily come to mind when a group of youngsters gather on a Saturday morning, but Kathy says Mrs. Haynie’s influence had a calming effect. She seemed to bring out the best in the kids.

“She had a simple way of teaching children, and that was ‘there are no rules in art.’ She would walk around and look at everyone’s work and give encouragement, but would never tell us what to do,” Kathy said.

Mrs. Haynie, who recently celebrated her 99th birthday, remembers Kathy showing promising talent early on.

“Kathy liked to draw animals, and they had very life-like features,” she said.

Mrs. Haynie’s work as an artist is well known throughout the Northern Neck and beyond. She has written numerous books, and many of her paintings hang in the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum, telling a story of days gone by. Kathy says she remains her inspiration as an artist.

“Miriam always encouraged us to use our art talent and I’ve tried to do that. I’ve been blessed to be able to use what she taught me in my life,” she said.

Kathy has indeed made a career of art. In college she specialized in graphic arts and desk top publishing, working for several publications. Later she established her own business, using her artistic talents in a number of different areas. She produced architectural renderings of homes for real estate brokers and architects, and most recently, has produced painted canvass floor cloths and a children’s book for George Washington’s Birthplace. She will soon begin work on similar projects for a park in Tennessee.

What makes Kathy’s story all the more poignant is the fact that she is now passing along that artistic inspiration to another generation. Her eight year old daughter Jackie, at an early age, showed keen interest in art, and is following in her mom’s footsteps.

“We discovered that Jackie has dyslexia, and that she communicates best through her art. She’s constantly sketching things, and even illustrates books,” Kathy said.

Kathy has learned to teach her daughter language skills through visual expression. Jackie has begun to paint, but her creativity is not confined to canvass. She paints silk scarves that look very much like they could be offered in the finest stores. It makes her mother proud, and somewhat reflective about the inspiration she gained from Mrs. Haynie so long ago, and which now is helping her daughter reach her full potential.

“Miriam always told me to keep developing my talent and it would lead to good things. And it has.”