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Interview with Gladys Faris, May 8, 2007 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Gladys Faris, May 8, 2007
May 8, 2007
Oral History interview with local watercolor artist, Gladys Faris.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Faris, Gladys Interviewer:  Jones, Carroll / Hayes, Sherman Date of Interview:  05/08/2007 Series:  Arts Length  120 minutes


Jones: Today is May the 8th, 2007. I'm Carroll Jones with Sherman Hayes, University librarian, for the Randall Library Special Collections Oral History Program. And today, we are visiting with well-known North Carolina artist, Gladys Faris, in her home and studio in Wilmington, North Carolina. Good morning, Gladys.

Gladys Faris: Good morning.

Jones: We are very fortunate to be here today. What a lovely, lovely setting we have. Let's just start out, Gladys, by telling us a bit about your formative years. Where were you born and how was your family an influence? What brought you into art? That sort of thing, to give us a sense about your background.

Gladys Faris: I was born in Greenville, South Carolina. I grew up thinking crayons-- Crayola crayons-- were the best things in the world. As a child, I spent a lot of time coloring and drawing and decorating things. But I told my mother and daddy that I wanted to be an artist when I was young. But then in high school, they had, you could have an elective of an art class. So, I went and did that. The teacher was Bob McClain. He's well-known, was well-known in Greenville. He was a multi-talented guy. He started the Greenville--

Jones: Was it an art community?

Gladys Faris: Yeah. It was a little pathetic theater and it grew into bigger and bigger and it is next to the new museum. It's not new, anymore. It was that. He also did portraits. And he was a friend of my aunt's. He had special interests in me, because I was interested in doing it. I would stay for recess and work on my art. Anyway, when the report card came out, he wrote a little note on it to Mother because the connection with my aunt. He said, "Sister is finding herself in art." That's me, sister.

Jones: That's a southern term.

Gladys Faris: That's a southern term. You were always sister to all the family, cousins and everything. Maybe if they got tired of calling you sister, they would call you "cuz".

Jones: Our sister-in-law was always sister, even to me.

Gladys Faris: So anyway, so the next year, we were talking about school. This was my Sophomore year in high school. Mother asked Bob McClain what he would suggest; what schools. The Sarasota Museum of Art School in Florida-- that may not be the exact title of the thing, or the University of Georgia.

Hayes: But nothing in South Carolina?

Gladys Faris: They didn't have an excellent-- I shouldn't say that. They probably had a good department. At that time, this is back in the '50s.

Hayes: Let me put on the record. When were you born?

Gladys Faris: 1930.

Hayes: And your birthday was?

Gladys Faris: 10-15-30.

Hayes: Even though you are Faris now, what was your maiden name?

Gladys Faris: Going. G-O-I-N-G.

Hayes: And your folks. What did they do for existence and living and so forth, just as some context?

Gladys Faris: My daddy went to Clemson. He was a civil engineer. He worked for Jarine, there. It was a big firm. My mother just was a housewife.

Hayes: Just right.

Gladys Faris: And a mother.

Hayes: Other siblings?

Gladys Faris: I had a brother.

Hayes: Good.

Gladys Faris: I'm the only one left.

Jones: So, anyway, did you go to Sarasota?

Gladys Faris: I didn't. That was too far away.

Jones: And Charleston didn't have anything that you could go to?

Gladys Faris: Not then, I don't think.

Jones: Greenville, South Carolina is coming over the border to North Carolina and the hilly area. Are there, no, up around Ashville, or anything like that.

Gladys Faris: Nothing.

Jones: So, then what happened?

Gladys Faris: So I decided I would go to Converse for two years. We had visited Georgia, and at that time it was just like Chapel Hill. It was beginning to let the girls come on the main campus.

Jones: You didn't have to be in the nursing program?

Gladys Faris: No. But anyway, we went down there to see the University of Georgia. They rode us out to the campus that I think was on a dairy farm. You were not terribly far from the campus. I think you had to go back in on a bus, and that didn't appeal to me. The next year when I was a Junior; it was two years, I went then as a junior. But I did spend two years at Converse and had excellent teachers.

Hayes: Was that a community college?

Gladys Faris: No, it's a private girls' school.

Hayes: So, art a strong program there?

Gladys Faris: It was. We had--

Jones: Art History and all that.

Gladys Faris: The teacher had gone on to Pennsylvania Academy of Art. He believed in learning the fundamentals where as Georgia was like-- this was when abstract was beginning, and not much instruction about what to do.

Jones: Kind of freeform.

Gladys Faris: I had two ways, and I think that was good.

Hayes: The question we always ask the artist; we shouldn't, but we do. It's surprising how families react when someone says they want to be an artist. Sounded like your parents were supportive.

Gladys Faris: My daddy didn't say much at all.


Jones: He was outnumbered by two females.

Gladys Faris: He never disagreed. I mean, I think it occurred to him when I finished school with a BFA, that I couldn't teach. I didn't have the credentials.

Jones: Couldn't do secretary work and couldn't teach or do nursing. What else was left?

Hayes: Aw, come on.

Gladys Faris: He was thinking in those terms. But what I did have to go to the local business school to learn to type. I did learn but when the job came up, they got the job for me. I found out that I could-- several guys-- it was a Cerebral Palsy Fundraiser. These people from New York came in, and I was sitting at the desk and they told me what to do. And they left. I had all this typing to do. When they came back I had all these tears in my eyes, and the trashcan was full. I said, "I can't type. I'm through. I'll leave today."

Jones: Did you?

Gladys Faris: No, he kept me just to answer the phones.

Jones: They thought you were young enough and they thought, "Oh, this poor old thing."

Gladys Faris: I kept typing and I ended up working for neurosurgeons.

Jones: Where did your art stand at this point, when you were trying to learn to type and be a doctor's assistant?

Gladys Faris: I belonged to the Association of Artists, and they had some shows.

Hayes: Where was this out of?

Gladys Faris: In Greenville.

Jones: Did you spend any time during vacation going to any artist retreats or any shows? Traveling around?

Gladys Faris: I went up to Furman and took a class. Actually, he had the art department, but he was doing it in his home. I did things like that. Just pick up classes.

Jones: When did it really become a chance for you to pick it up more and do more work?

Hayes: Be a professional? You had the degree, right? You finished?

Gladys Faris: Yes, I did.

Hayes: You alluded to male/female levels in school. Was the art department mixed male and female at Georgia?

Gladys Faris: Oh, yeah.

Hayes: So, you didn't have any of those questions.

Gladys Faris: No.

Hayes: You graduated in '55, '56?

Gladys Faris: '53.

Jones: What happened then?

Gladys Faris: That's when I went back home and took the typing course. Let's see, Bill didn't come along for a while, so I thought maybe I better get my teaching.

Hayes: Who is Bill?

Gladys Faris: My husband-to-be.

Hayes: Oh, okay.

Gladys Faris: That's when I went out to Furman to take some classes. Then we got married, and he-- .

Jones: I want you to tell me, you mentioned something kind of cute. He has an interest in art and you said that's how you got together.

Gladys Faris: That's right.

Jones: That you painted on your first date.

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Jones: Well, tell us about that.

Gladys Faris: He worked for a firm.

Hayes: As an architect?

Gladys Faris: As an architect--

Jones: This is in Greenville?

Gladys Faris: In Greenville. And a friend of mine was a cousin to one of the guys that worked for him. They were trying to get us together. I kept saying, "No, Mary. He is younger than me. I don't want any more blind dates." Anyway, Mary had a business, travel. So I'd go by when I was through with work. I'd go by and see her sometimes. I was over there one day and Bill came in. It was all set up. Wasn't it, Bill? Anyway--

Jones: Did he ask you right then and there?

Gladys Faris: He wanted to go out tonight.

Jones: Oh, really?

[Crew talk]

Jones: So he asked you out that night?

Gladys Faris: That night, and I told him I couldn't go that night. I was going to teach Bible study at church. What I was doing--

Jones: Were you really going to?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, in a way. I was also painting on some walls over there. I forgot exactly what the arrangement was. It was just a one night thing I was going to do. He called again and we got together. He bought his painting paints and put them in the car and I put mine in. We would go up to Avard or places like that in the mountains.

Jones: So you were meant for one another, really. You had a lot in common. Did you critique each other?

Gladys Faris: Oh, yeah. If he didn't like mine, it made me mad.

Jones: My expression was going to be, is it amicable?

Gladys Faris: No, he was always very nice. Supporting too.

Jones: So this evolved into--

Hayes: Did you end up doing the teaching?

Gladys Faris: I didn't, no. At that time he was working-- he had gone to Spartanburg, I guess. He kept moving away as far as he could from me. He went to Spartanburg and then to Columbia and back to [inaudible]. Anyway, he came--

Jones: But they were close drives.

Hayes: But the persistence finally paid off and you got married.

Jones: What year were you married?

Gladys Faris: '63, I think.

Jones: Oh, really?

Hayes: When did you come to Wilmington?

Gladys Faris: We went to Columbia for eight years. He was with a firm down there.

Hayes: Were you able to break into that art community down there?

Gladys Faris: Not really. They had a big museum. They had things you could go to and enjoy that were there. I took a class or two there. By this time, we had two children; little ones. It wasn't a real, it was just a big town, big city, I mean. He and one of his classmates wanted to be on the ocean, on the water. They talked about being partners and doing that. So opportunity came. His firm was going to send us to Washington.

Jones: D.C.?

Gladys Faris: We found out, "No way we are going to be able to have a house up there." He was kind of ready to do something else. So they went hunting for a place. It was between-- they came up here to Wilmington. We were going to do that or we were going back to Greenville. I was kind of wanting to go to Greenville. But when he came back, we went back on a visit up here, I fell in love with it. I thought, "Boy, this is the place to come."

Jones: Glad you did. That was in--

Gladys Faris: The atmosphere, all the things you had to paint.

Jones: When was this? Early '70s that you came here?

Gladys Faris: '71.

Hayes: Give us a sense of what Wilmington was like. That, from a historical standpoint, has changed so rapidly.

Gladys Faris: That's a good question. My next door neighbor, her mother was from Raleigh and she stayed down there in Columbia with her; her daughter in-law. I went over to tell them we were moving to Wilmington. She said, "Oh my goodness, that's a dropping off place of the world." Anyway, I had already been here and I knew better. But it was two lane roads all the way. At the bridge, it wasn't. The big bridge wasn't here. It took forever to get here.

Jones: I suppose as you moved out, everything fell apart for a while.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, yeah. In Columbia, I put the kids in the basket at K-Mart and we'd go around and entertain them there. There was no K-Mart here. There was nothing.

Hayes: You made a comment that you love the light and the look. What was attractive through an artist's eyes?

Gladys Faris: When you are in a city like Columbia, you just find a lot of buildings. It was just big open space. Of course, it's getting that way around here too.

Jones: I had another artist tell me that she and her husband had a choice. They came up the same time you did. She said the light in this area. She told us pretty much what you're saying. She could visualize and see things clearly. She said it was just an openness. She would stand for hours looking at various scenes and visualizing them. So this is interesting that you too.

Gladys Faris: I've found that light in the French Riviera when we went over there as a group; it was a wonderful light. It would change a little bit. The clouds would come by and the wind would blow them away. I thought about that yesterday. It was doing a little bit of that.

Jones: Did you go to the French Riviera with an art group?

Gladys Faris: Yes. Betty Brown, Jody Rippy and Kay Ballad. And Jenny Wright-Frierson.

Hayes: How did you enter into the art community? You're now the talent. I guess South Carolina's acceptable.

Gladys Faris: This is what was so nice about it. It was maybe about a year after we got here that I started painting and looking around. When the kids got in kindergarten and first grade, I packed up some paintings and went down to St. John's with them. At that time, Callin Milner was the director. Did you--

Hayes: I didn't know her.

Gladys Faris: She is a really, really nice lady.

Hayes: And that was down where?

Gladys Faris: Where St. John's was. It was just that one little building. It had been a tavern at the McCauley's. So, I took some paintings down there. The arrangement there was, if you--

Hayes: Was it consignment?

Gladys Faris: No. They don't jury but they look at your work as a whole. If they like what you do, you can be a, hang your--

Hayes: Anyway, sorry the interruption. You said they would invite you to bring you work in and could a committee look at it?

Gladys Faris: I think so. Maybe one or two people. Then, if you pass that you can bring things in and hang. The gallery was downstairs and the upstairs was just a very quaint-- I felt like I was in a tea room all the time. They added on to that later. When she left, when Callin Milner left, Allen Aches came as the new director.

Hayes: Would they also bring in visiting shows periodically?

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm.

Hayes: How long would your work stay up there?

Gladys Faris: It would hang in the gallery downstairs and then they had an upstairs gallery. When Allen came, Callin Milner wanted to go live in Charleston. He came from California. Before Callin left, she asked me to have a show when he came so I had a one person show. So, things were getting great.

Hayes: When was this?

Gladys Faris: The early '70s. What was so nice about that gallery was the community. The women had an auxiliary. They took care of the food-- and anything that needed to be done, they did it.

Hayes: Was there since that it a museum at that point?

Gladys Faris: It was a gallery.

Hayes: But it was a community gallery, it wasn't a commercial gallery.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, it was different. It actually began as Hester Donnelly. You know how that worked out. They had a place in the post office, a little post office not where the post office is now. The McCoy's owned the building. I have to jump off a little bit and go sideways. Henry McCoy and his brother owned the place. Henry left-- the McCoy's lived on 3rd Street. The family has been here for years. He left here when he was 16 years old and went to Greenville, South Carolina. He started a contractor business and did real well. He was a good friend of my daddy's. When I had this show, he wrote a letter, typed out a letter. He was getting old then. He typed a letter and sent it to St. John's to be given to me. I'll let y'all see the letter. He was just saying he was pleased that I was in the gallery with this first show. That wasn't the first show there but anyways, it was a nice letter he wrote to me.

Hayes: Were you unusual, with the members in the seventies, was it unusual for you to have an art degree? Or did most of the people that worked with you have the same background?

Gladys Faris: Some of them would have had an art degree. It would depend on the school that they were going to, to what extent they had. At Georgia, they had a big new building. They had, I guess UNCW does too, but they had pottery and interior design. Full program. They also had a program where they brought in professors and teachers from other places. How I got started in watercolor, I never heard of it at that time, of a university teaching watercolor?

Hayes: Why not? Why wouldn't they teach watercolor?

Gladys Faris: It was just sort of considered a sketching thing. I don't think that many people were able to teach.

Jones: I heard that watercolor is the most difficult medium to paint in.

Gladys Faris: It is. It is.

Hayes: And yet why was, because amateurs did it, it just didn't have the same passion?

Gladys Faris: I think probably other people doing oils would think I would like to see what this looked like in color. They would just do a little something and that's a watercolor.

Hayes: So, it was more of a sketching thing.

Gladys Faris: Yeah. It wasn't considered. That it probably wouldn't last.

Hayes: I wondered about that. Is there a problem with watercolor for permanence?

Gladys Faris: Not anymore. Maybe back it would, the paper would turn yellow and fade away. But the papers, archival papers and framing them probably.

Jones: Have you ever worked in oils or any other medium?

Gladys Faris: I did at Converse.

Hayes: You said you had unusual experience where Georgia had a professor that worked in watercolor?

Gladys Faris: Yeah. The junior year, Francis Chapin was the teacher. He taught at the Chicago Institute.

Jones: He's a well-known name.

Gladys Faris: Francis Chapin. He was dear. He is what turned me on to watercolor. He was a big lanky guy and he sounded like Jimmy Stewart. Did you know him?

Jones: No. But I've heard some tapes and I read about him.

Hayes: Interesting.

Gladys Faris: But Georgia got the best they could. He stayed two years. I didn't take any classes except his.

Hayes: Really?

Gladys Faris: I took sculpting on the side but they let me just do it.

Hayes: They really let you concentrate. So you almost studied one-on-one with him?

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm.

Hayes: Did you stay up with him as the years went by? Did you keep in touch with him?

Gladys Faris: Not after he left. I know he died not more than ten years after I left there. What we would do was go in on Mondays. He would talk. We'd go out somewhere and he'd paint something and we'd watch him. Then the rest of the week, we were on our own to go out. At the end of the week, we would have critique. We'd be back with him, we were with him Tuesdays.

Hayes: How many were in the class? Small group?

Gladys Faris: There probably were 20 people. And one of the girls had a car. The two of us would jump in that car as soon as we got out of the building and go back into the places I never would go. We'd get under bridges and sit on railroad tracks.

Hayes: This is a sidebar, but let me ask you, is the technical term "plein air," is that related to this?

Gladys Faris: I wouldn't have know what that terms was then. But it is just painting outdoors.

Hayes: Painting outdoors to get a finished product, right? That's what you were doing, in essence. You didn't go out to see it and come back and paint it. You painted it on-site.

Gladys Faris: Bring it back.

Hayes: So you got turned on to watercolor. You never deviated, did you ever have a temptation to go back into something else?

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Hayes: Your reputation, I think is fair to say, is a premier watercolorist.

Gladys Faris: I would talk about doing it, and I still say it. I'm going to do some oils. And I did do some before Christmas. But it's such a messy thing. That was one thing that happened in the studio. It just got turned over. Paint all over the place.

Jones: Let me ask you something about your work. Do you enjoy doing people? Do you enjoy doing buildings? Everybody has their niche, I notice you have a number of different things in your studio. How do you decide, "This is a scene I want"? Does something just grab you or do you look for certain things?

Gladys Faris: No, usually you are just in the mode to do it and you just look. When you are ready to paint, you'll see it.

Jones: Well are you the kind of artist who, if you're driving someplace and come upon a barn, or a hill, or whatever it is, I'm really making up this stuff and taking a photograph of it, that's well enough. Do you do that as well as other things?

Gladys Faris: My children can tell you how much they hated to go on a trip. The thing is in the backseat. I'd go, "Bill I love that. I love it."

Jones: What do you do, take photos?

Gladys Faris: You just have to take photographs of it.

Hayes: You don't stop and make them wait for you.

Gladys Faris: On the interstate.

Jones: Were these black and white or color? Would you already have a sense of the color embedded in your mind?

Gladys Faris: I guess they were black and white for a while. But I didn't do photographing until I was up here.

Jones: What are your favorite subjects?

Gladys Faris: Well, again, at Converse, that professor was very good at portraits. Not these pretty portraits but good paintings. He also did etchings and he went up in Vermont to do those. That was what he really liked to do. But, he-- what was the question?

Jones: Just a sense of--

Hayes: Are you a generalist, in all subjects, or do you have some favorites?

Gladys Faris: I was there two years, and the first part of it, you had to draw a plaster cast on the wall. I mean, you don't draw on the wall, but you did that until you could move up do doing it in black and white paint. Then you could do earth colors. Well, that took a year for me to get through that. Then the next year was my second year. We had models. I got to them.

Jones: Did you enjoy that?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, I loved it.

Hayes: Today we said to you, the next five pictures that you do, are some you would you gravitate to landscapes, or buildings, or a sense of, or maybe all of them. There's not a right or wrong answer. We're just curious about your subject.

Gladys Faris: Probably do about half and half. When we came here, I got really excited about the architecture. The old parts of--

Jones: In the downtown area?

Gladys Faris: Yeah. That and the river and the ocean. You had it all. One of the first shows I put some things in was an azalea show down the street in front of St. John's. I put a few little things in there. I think two of them got an award. I looked around and I didn't see these people doing watercolor. The ones that were there were fine, but I said, "There's no competition here." But I had little children. I'd like to reverse that. Now we have loads of artists here. It's good.

Jones: Still don't want to work in watercolors.

Hayes: So you were an early watercolorist here. Claude Howell didn't do watercolor. He did acrylics at the time.

Gladys Faris: He did a little watercolor.

Hayes: Anyone else jump out of your mind that was watercolorist? Betsy Brown came later.

Jones: Betty did watercolor.

Gladys Faris: Betty White.

Jones: She does watercolors. Did you know Sam Berkman?

Gladys Faris: Yes.

Jones: He did a little bit of everything.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, he did. He did some exciting things. He was a good teacher too.

Hayes: Let's talk about how you kept your art going. You alluded to the fact that we are at the end of a pipeline. I would guess there are some artists here [inaudible], but as we've done these interviews, the number of people that we would bring in. So did you end up going to, every time you could get a painter to come into town, or a watercolorist, or a workshop? How do you keep alive in a smaller place?

Gladys Faris: Things picked up. Everything started happening about the mid-late '50s here, and a lot more. There is a North Carolina Watercolor Society. So, that really was the connection to the outer world. You can do workshops.

Hayes: Did you end up traveling because you still had small children?

Gladys Faris: Not too much. We had a couple of shows here and in Southport that was a good artist down there. That's the first workshop I ever took.

Hayes: Who was that?

Gladys Faris: Mark Moon. He was the artist.

Hayes: Mark Moon.

Gladys Faris: We had a lot of people would go down there.

Jones: You were, or were you one of those who initiated the Art League and some spin-offs from that?

Gladys Faris: Like at St. John's?

Jones: At St. John's, and didn't it grow beyond St. John's?

Gladys Faris: I think it did. You get a group of people together, and some of them want to do nudes. Some don't want to do nudes. So, they split off and go get another one.

Jones: But then, if I recall, and I could be very wrong, at that point people were coming here from elsewhere in the state for these shows and to join in. Tell us--

Hayes: What was the vehicle that everyone joined together? Wilmington Art Association?

Gladys Faris: To come down here to stay at the beach and paint.

Hayes: No, no, I'm saying what was the--

Jones: Growth of the art community.

Hayes: Self-supporting groups that grew up. Because I know you've been in the Wilmington Art Association. Was that always there or not?

Gladys Faris: That's been there forever. I say, forever. Before I came up here, they had a Wilmington Art Association.

Hayes: Did you get active in that right away?

Gladys Faris: No, I didn't. But at the same time I went to St. John's. I think actually, wasn't the building not given to the Art Association?

Jones: At one point. It had to be subsidized to keep up. I believe from what I read and what I've heard.

Gladys Faris: I think Claude Howell stepped in.

Jones: Did you know him?

Gladys Faris: Oh, yeah.

Jones: Did you take classes from him? It seems like you did.

Gladys Faris: I didn't but I would love to have.

Jones: He would have been a marvelous person to talk to.

Gladys Faris: He is.

Jones: For hours. [laughs]

Gladys Faris: I called him when I first got here because a friend of mine knew him and said, "Now, you call Claude." So I called him when I first came. He didn't want to talk to me over the telephone. He wanted you to come to his place and have a sit down.

Jones: Did you sit on his porch?

Gladys Faris: I never did. I sat in the house. Did you?

Jones: No, I never knew it. But I heard it became a daily ritual.

Hayes: So, he the art mentor for everyone then?

Gladys Faris: Uh-huh. He was, I think when they enlarged the museum from the early St. John's to--

Jones: The separate buildings.

Gladys Faris: The buildings. He was on the Board.

Jones: Let me ask you this. As your children grew and they needed less of your time, is that when you became, I'm sure you were always learning, became more productive and active? Could you tell us about what you, where you felt you have gone in your learning and your growth and things you felt you've accomplished? For yourself, in your own words.

Gladys Faris: I found out very soon that you are either going to paint or you're going to paint and do some other things, but it's not going to work. Because when you are painting, you have to have stretches of time. I just dropped out of the garden club and all the other little things, and painted. It is sort of a lonely thing to do if you are doing it in your studio, but it never bothered me.

Hayes: It was a solitary event.

Jones: When was your first one-woman show? When did that take place?

Gladys Faris: At St. John's, when Allen Aches came. They wanted to have an opening show. I think the main thing was to meet him. I just got to go for the ride.

Hayes: Did he last a long time?

Gladys Faris: Not really. He was here about four or five years.

Hayes: Then next was Ren Brown?

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm.

Hayes: Did you know Ren all those years?

Gladys Faris: Yeah. Now, Allen wasn't a people person. Without meaning to, I think he offended a lot of the auxiliary. And somebody is going to come in and change things.

Hayes: Wasn't a North Carolinian either. Californian?

Gladys Faris: Nothing wrong with California.

Hayes: Ren was a people person?

Gladys Faris: He was. Ren was always-- whatever you went to him with, he would think about it.

Hayes: He was from Philadelphia, so it wasn't because he was a Southerner.

Jones: During this period of picking up on your painting, did you think you grew in some ways and developed some styles? Could you tell us a little bit about your perception? In other words--

Gladys Faris: To begin, moving here changed my way of painting. I had been influenced by Francis Chapin and his, I'll show y'all some of that. But then I had Bill-- my way of doing it was splashing the color on and getting the pen and going over it and doing the drawing. That didn't work here for the beach. You couldn't do it that way. Bill kept behind me and said you have to throw that ink away. Get rid of the ink. You are going to have to do it the other way.

Jones: Did you and Bill work together at times?

Gladys Faris: He'll critique.

Hayes: Were you selling all of this time? We know artists have to work. Were you starting to be successful and actually sell?

Gladys Faris: The art show at St. John's was a nice sell. Anything that St. John did, you could hang your paintings in the gallery down there. Sam Bisset was involved with it at that point. He was having things down there.

Hayes: The reason I asked that question, is it's a funny world where you may be the world's greatest artist. You are validated partly by having someone buy your work. Or seems like an interesting tension.

Gladys Faris: I think if you are doing a lot of commissions, I find that--

Jones: I was going to ask you if you've done that.

Gladys Faris: I've done it, yeah.

Jones: Have you turned any down? People want you to do a cat, or a dog, or a turtle?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, I just tell them I can't do it. I don't know how to.

Hayes: As you grew in success, what mediums did you sell your work through? You moved to galleries other than St. John's?

Gladys Faris: First thing we did, there were three of us. Maybe four. This was in the late '70s. We started a little co-op gallery down at The Landing at the beach.

Hayes: Who was that?

Gladys Faris: It was me and Betty Brown and Doris Rudolph. I used to teach Ann Brennan when she was in high school. I kind of thought she was my child. She had gone to college; a freshman, I think she was. Her mother, she had a lot of paintings. We wanted Ann to come in the summers if she could. But Irene, her mother was a part of the gallery because she would bring Ann's paintings in. Where was I going from there? But then we lost Ann. That didn't work very well. Irene-- it was more work than she planned to keep the gallery.

Jones: And this was down in Long Beach?

Gladys Faris: No, this is at The Landing. Isn't that the name of it?

Hayes: So, you were in business all of a sudden.

Gladys Faris: All of a sudden, yeah. What we had to do was take in framing just to pay the rent. We were upstairs in just a little office building for our first year. Then we went downstairs with a framer.

Jones: When was this?

Hayes: Late '70s. Seldom does that work, when the artist becomes the entrepreneur. Did that last very long?

Gladys Faris: It lasted about two years. One year upstairs and maybe one and a half downstairs.

Hayes: Did you have to man the studio? Was it cooperative?

Gladys Faris: Man it and make frames off and on. It was fun while we did it. There was a picture in the paper when we opened it. Then someone came in and stole a bunch of stuff.

Hayes: Oh, no!

Gladys Faris: Anyway, that wasn't what put us out of business. It was just keeping the people together. You need three or four people to do it.

Jones: Do you have any favorites that you've done?

Gladys Faris: I don't know. I have a bunch of paintings sitting around that I did. I went to New Elements Gallery. That was a source of getting them out of the house. Then you bring them home if you don't sell them. New Elements was a good gallery. It still is.

Jones: Are you still having shows?

Gladys Faris: Last one I had was in 2002. They are one-person shows. That was when I started having trouble with my back, so I was painting less and less.

Hayes: You did a couple commissioned pieces for the university. The Wise House was one.

Gladys Faris: Yeah I got a bunch of them.

Hayes: Another one. How did that come about? Someone who knew of your work had asked. Those were popular reproductions, still see them all over.

Gladys Faris: Are you talking about the houses like the Cannon House and the Wise House here? Let me see. How did that happen? I did a painting of one of them. I just painted it and somebody saw it. They called and asked me to do certain ones. And the buildings, I did the catalogs.

Jones: Oh, did you?

Gladys Faris: They are around here somewhere. I will show you. I did a good bit of things with them.

Jones: Do you like doing buildings?

Gladys Faris: I do.

Jones: That's such exact work.

Gladys Faris: Well-- I had a critiquer that could tell me. I'd say, "Does this slant this way or that way?"

Hayes: We were talking earlier about different levels of realism. Your work seldom seems like you are attempting to be photographic.

Gladys Faris: No, I try to--

Hayes: You understand what it is but even those of the Wise House were not--

Gladys Faris: Photographic. Well, you can--

Hayes: Although I think you can do that with watercolor. There are people out there now that do precision.

Gladys Faris: You call that-- I can't think of the word.

Hayes: Ultra realism, almost.

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Hayes: One of the things with watercolors. We're going to do five more minutes then change tapes. It seems like there are two schools growing up, and maybe they are not that distinctive. See what you think. One is a more muted pastel. Now I see a school of just extremely bright, intense colors and they are both watercolor. Have you seen that? Was that always there?

Gladys Faris: When we first-- when they had the North Carolina Watercolor Society, they started out with this rule. Everything had to be transparent. That didn't go over very good. The group got together and said you can put guash in it or whatever but it's still watercolor. But nowadays, color is it.

Hayes: Did you start to add more and more color when you felt free to do that?

Gladys Faris: I was influenced by Andrew White back in those days and his palette. It took me a long time to start using more color. I notice the things that are written about me. They mention my subdued palette.

Hayes: But that was a conscious decision on your part. ?

Gladys Faris: At that time. I wasn't unique in doing that.

Jones: Andrew White's work seems to, like you and like most really good, intense artists, has seemed to go from one point to another and then back again or at least found a middle ground. There was a time when Chrissy grew up and being tutored by a father and there was a lack of color; grays, blacks, browns and it went on from there. I imagine you did the same thing.

Gladys Faris: In my way.

Jones: Have you been up there?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, we went up with the Bissets. I had a trip where a week and back through Maryland.

Hayes: Well, I think, coming from an academic standpoint, force an issue that artists make a conscious decision to change and do this, is probably not realistic. You just, over time, evolved into something different. Did you necessarily stop and say, "I'm going to use more color now"? Probably not.

Gladys Faris: You are right. I decided I needed to use more color. I've changed.

Jones: Isn't that what you're supposed to do?

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Hayes: You've been a professional artist for more than 50 years. I hope you would change. Can anyone sustain creativity without changing?

Gladys Faris: No, you have to. It seems like I've gotten a little heavier handed, getting old.

Hayes: What do you mean by heavier handed?

Gladys Faris: I'll go back over things.

Hayes: Would you mind if we stop and change the tape? Take a little break here, we'll be right back.

(Tape Change)

Hayes: All right. Go on, do that.

Jones: About your children and grandchildren, and I know that in some families, one of them might follow the footsteps. In yours is that the case at all?

Gladys Faris: We think so. He's eight.

Jones: Oh, he's eight.

Gladys Faris: But anyway, I told the parents to watch out. My side of the family, my mother's sisters had some talent, and on Daddy's side they were all engineers or architects. Way back they didn't call them architects, I don't think. But anyway, that, and then the fact that Bill and I both fiddle around.

Jones: Right, fiddle around.

Gladys Faris: So anyway, they've got serious about it. Jeannie did with her-- and he's the oldest little boy, and he gets crayons. He gets paper. He gets everything.

Jones: Do you work with him, sometimes?

Gladys Faris: Not him. He doesn't. He does his own thing, but I mean if you suggest something, "Oh, I'll do it."

Jones: So he's that he's got to do things.

Hayes: You remembered very early wanting to do this. Do you think there is almost a genetic predisposition to art for people?

Gladys Faris: I think there's something there, like a little bit of a gene in there.

Hayes: Because our society doesn't necessarily reward or encourage it.

Gladys Faris: I know it, and I was thinking the other day, Jeannie said that-- She is the editor--

Jones: That's your daughter?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, she's editor of the NC State Alumni magazine and she's gotten this girl that helps her, a designer in there that designs it. She had to take him to work with her one day a couple of weeks ago and he was sick. They wouldn't let him go to school. So the girl, the designer, came in and he was over there coloring and making pictures and she said, "Whoa." She says, "We're going to put that in our next issue." And then at school, they picked some of his to take to some bank just recently.

Hayes: Wow, that is something.

Gladys Faris: And then I think, well, why am I excited about that? He'll be poor as he can be.

Hayes: Well, not necessarily. I know at the university we have these art majors that are just amazingly talented and wonderful, but they have a course they must take called Art as Business, because it is a challenge.

Gladys Faris: I didn't have that.

Jones: I wanted to ask you this. There's another thing, too. I know I have run across and met and spoken with artists for years and years, all over the world, basically, and some have said, "Now, I paint for myself," or, "I have taken it to the next degree," whether it's pottery or design or fashion design or jewelry design or anything like that, "and that's where I make money." There's a woman in town who said that this is what she did, eventually. Have you ever shown an interest, or been involved with anything but painting as far as creating in an artistic way?

Gladys Faris: Like sewing or anything?

Jones: Anything, pottery or jewelry.

Gladys Faris: I used to make all my clothes.

Jones: Or art design or anything. It's just a question I wanted to ask.

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Jones: Because I have found often, that they'll say, "Well that's my recreation. Painting is my soul," and oftentimes it's interesting. One man told me, he was a wonderful artist, and he did not like to be bothered while he was working but he would have, his wife said, the worst music in the world going on in his studio which was the top floor of the house, and windows on three sides and he would have it so loud that it would boom, boom, boom, boom through the rest of the house. But for recreation, he said he would cook and he was a gourmet cook.

Gladys Faris: Uh huh, uh huh.

Jones: So there was an extension.

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Hayes: Well, I think some artists have to go into other things to make a living. I guess you didn't feel that you had to. You didn't have to do that. You had a family.

Gladys Faris: We had three meals a day, yeah.

Hayes: And yet you have sold many, many, many pieces, so that must be gratifying.

Gladys Faris: Well yes, it is. It is.

Hayes: That people want your work. I want to get back to some of the other artists in the community, because artists are a communal group many times, and you've developed a set of comrades of sorts.

Gladys Faris: Right.

Hayes: Who are some of your favorite artists that you work with, or travel with, or even go to Europe with?

Gladys Faris: Well, it's been the same group the whole time.

Hayes: That's what I find fascinating.

Gladys Faris: Betty, Jodie.

Hayes: Well, say their names.

Gladys Faris: Oh.

Hayes: People are listening.

Gladys Faris: Betty Brown and Jenny Wright-Frierson and Kay Ballard and Jodie Rippy.

Hayes: The five musketeers or four musketeers.

Gladys Faris: Uh-huh. Well, see, I got left out, the last couple of years because of my knees, and I couldn't manage those trips, but now I'm ready to go again.

Hayes: So where were some of the trips, when you say trips? Would you go on field trips?

Gladys Faris: No, we went to France first.

Hayes: Wow.

Gladys Faris: Then, let's see, we went to-- I want to say, Mexico-- I thought I was in Mexico, and we went to Arizona.

Jones: Did you go to Taos?

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Hayes: So, was that the time when I said the university library purchased that one kind of Southwestern piece?

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Hayes: Was that during one of those trips?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, yeah.

Hayes: And what were the trips? When you say a trip, it's really doing art? Is that what you would do?

Gladys Faris: Well, we did. Now, Kay Ballard was the one that arranged our trips and everything was detailed out, and she was living over in France too, so she had, could go around and find places for us. And we stayed in a hotel one night or two nights, and then we had, I think we had to get two cars to get all our stuff in it, but then we went to a gee out in the country, which means the people that have vineyards and they built a little place on there for tourists, and that was really nice. We could go out in the vineyard and they'd put grapes down there for us every morning. We could go all around. And the French people were nice.

Jones: This was your base then, so to speak?

Gladys Faris: Uh-huh. We stayed there a week.

Jones: What part of the Riviera, you stayed at the Riviera, what part were you?

Gladys Faris: The bottom half.

Hayes: So every day was you went and painted then?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, and we were gone about three weeks, I think, altogether. And we'd just get up in the morning, and get in the car, or walk, and climb a hill or something.

Hayes: Were you like, inspired, by just the different setting? Is that part of what the goal, was or just a completely-- ?

Gladys Faris: Well, now the light in France was, I think we mentioned that a while ago, I could compare it to Wrightsville. Right now, out at the beach, just the way it looks in the light, and really nice. And Portugal was the same. We went to Portugal.

Hayes: Tell us a little bit about this for the uninitiated. I mean, an artist really says "The light's different." We've heard that.

Gladys Faris: Well, if you go to London you'll know.

Jones: Oh, yes. It's not hindered by buildings.

Gladys Faris: No, or industry. I guess they just blow, those clouds just blow it all out of there, well, at least down by the water.

Hayes: But is it the cloud patterns? The sunlight is different in parts of the world. Is that what you're--

Gladys Faris: Well, the light. It's just more fun to paint when you've got light like shadows, and it just makes nice, appealing shapes and casts shadows.

Hayes: Are there particular seasons of the year that are stronger than others for you or all seasons?

Gladys Faris: That we would go?

Hayes: Yeah.

Gladys Faris: I think we went in September to go to France.

Jones: That was a good time.

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm. Portugal, I don't remember, probably about the same.

Hayes: Now, what about light in the Southwest, then?

Gladys Faris: That's nice.

Hayes: What was that like?

Gladys Faris: It's nice, too. We don't go anywhere the light's not.

Hayes: Some artists have to work in bad light.

Gladys Faris: We went to England, Bill and I, with another couple, and they weren't artists, so I was miserable, trying to jump out of the car to see things that they didn't even see, but I just didn't get turned on at all in England.

Jones: Did you go to the coastal channels at all when you were in England, or even from-- Well no, you didn't, right? Or even--

Gladys Faris: We went on-- our first mistake was, we went on a tour.

Jones: Oh, I see. So you were limited.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, that I'm sure.

Hayes: So, you've been practicing here for quite some time, 30-some years?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, yeah.

Hayes: Where's the next spot that's going to inspire you? Are you going further into the countryside or are you still inspired by the beach?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, I could stay here and paint.

Jones: Well, get your group together and consider going to Ireland to the coast, the Irish Sea area, all the crevice drops and little towns and the growth and the green is beautiful.

Gladys Faris: All right.

Jones: Absolutely.

Gladys Faris: Okay, the lake area.

Jones: Beautiful.

Gladys Faris: All right. I think [inaudible], he might want to go too.

Jones: He'll carry your bags.

Gladys Faris: He wants to go with the girls when they go. He said he'll carry the bags. He's always volunteering.

Jones: So, you've really all developed an appreciation of one another's work and a camaraderie and a good friendship?

Gladys Faris: Uh huh. And we get back at night and critique, or we get one painting and everybody paints on it.

Hayes: Oh really? But you all have different styles. Are you all watercolorists or some of you--

Gladys Faris: On those trips, yeah.

Hayes: But they're not the same. That's interesting.

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Hayes: Did you ever know--

Gladys Faris: I want to show you a photograph in a minute.

Hayes: Did you know Eloise Bethel at all?

Gladys Faris: I didn't know her real well. I think when we came--

Hayes: She was, I know, was eventually doing watercolor.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, mm-hmm.

Hayes: Other artists that you think, that over the years, that you just, as a fellow artist, felt were outstanding? I mean they're all good, but are there ones that come to mind that you remember here in town? Besides your--

Gladys Faris: Besides my friends.

Hayes: Your buddies.

Gladys Faris: Let me see. Oh, wait a minute.

Hayes: Check your notes.

Gladys Faris: Wait a minute. I'll go away and ask him.

Hayes: No, you have the [inaudible]. I don't know if you've worked with any of those people over time.

Gladys Faris: I haven't, no.

Hayes: Or at the university?

Gladys Faris: It's a good idea, what they have over there.

Hayes: So I'm saying there's these kind of interesting sets of folks. Anybody else in the Wilmington Art Association that strikes you? And they may have left, too. Artists come.

Gladys Faris: Douglas Grant is who I was, excuse me.

[crew talk]

Gladys Faris: He came to Wilmington about the same time we did. He was a member of the American Watercolor Society, very, very accomplished and he did show work at St. John's.

Hayes: Well, for example, I remember a person who was showing me a picture, and the person had been a Broadway actor his whole career and then moved back to town here and then went into the art community and yet not many people knew him. I mean, think that's one of the dilemmas of the art community now, is there's lots, and they're in different slices, and you're in a particular watercolor slice, I guess kind of, can we say, a veteran?

Gladys Faris: That's nice. It could be worse.

Hayes: A senior member that's well known, and then there's young folks coming in, which is really a challenge how they break into what's their niche. Did you teach over time?

Jones: I was just going to ask you. You mentioned young people.

Hayes: I didn't know if you took on students.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, after the show I had at St. John's, they wanted to add some classes and I would teach about maybe four or five times a year and it would be six week classes. And we did that at Cowan House.

Hayes: And what kind of students would you get everything?

Gladys Faris: Well, a lot of interesting people. I enjoyed teaching, because you get-- I haven't had anybody that wasn't--

Jones: Different age groups?

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, and they get together and have a good time. We'd go out to paint.

Hayes: And is watercolor something that you think people can get good enough at it, to do something fairly quickly? Is that one of the appeals of watercolor?

Gladys Faris: It takes a little while to get you-- at first, I had beginners that just go out and buy all the equipment and spend about $200 and come in, and they find it's difficult, but you've got to stick with it.

Jones: Beyond the stage where when you're a kid, and you put it on the paper and it begins to run?

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Jones: And wash out.

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Hayes: Well, it's a deceptive medium because it looks like it's going to be simple, right?

Gladys Faris: Uh-huh.

Hayes: Because it doesn't require special tools.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, you just have to learn to put the water on the page and then let it dry a little bit until it gets to a certain dull look, and then you can start putting color in it, and then it does wonderful things. Sometimes not, but it's things you don't really control to start out, maybe, with skies or something.

Jones: What are your plans right now? Have you got something coming up that you are particularly interested in doing? No, you're open, huh? Someone can call you up and say, "Gladys."

Gladys Faris: I know it.

Jones: "Let's go."

Gladys Faris: Yeah, yeah I can.

Hayes: Well, you've alluded to the fact that you've had some recent health crisis and you're feeling better now, and hope to get back to work?

Gladys Faris: Back, yeah.

Hayes: Well, your kid's gone and you're now a professional artist. How many hours a day would you work? I mean, what would be a normal? Was there ever a normal day that you would paint?

Gladys Faris: All day.

Hayes: All day.

Gladys Faris: You might not do that every day.

Hayes: All day?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, I could easy stay.

Jones: That's amazing.

Gladys Faris: Maybe a week.

Jones: That's amazing.

Gladys Faris: By that time I've ruined the watercolor though.

Hayes: And from start from an idea and you have, is it called a canvas or, I don't know, what you would say for a watercolor, paper?

Gladys Faris: It's paper.

Hayes: Paper. So when you're finished, I know it varies, but is that an hour, is that three hours, is that ten hours?

Gladys Faris: It depends on how much drawing you do. Some of it, if I draw too much it gets too structured.

Jones: When you say "draw," are you speaking of using the brush, or are you speaking of using--

Gladys Faris: A light, a light, I just use a light lead pencil, just a frame.

Jones: For like, an abstract.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, it's not good to do too much drawing, or you'll be playing within the lines.

Hayes: Well, are there those now who do a lot of ink drawing and watercolor combinations, and watercolor is used as a mixed media quite heavily, would you say, by many artists?

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm.

Hayes: But you really were watercolor?

Gladys Faris: Yeah. If you keep the white paint out of it, then the pigments themselves are transparent, most of them.

Hayes: And have you seen a change in the quality in the technology, or is it still the same?

Gladys Faris: I think it's the same. They have a lot more things to sell you, a lot more colors.

Jones: I was going to ask you-- Do you mix your own, or do you rely upon purchases?

Gladys Faris: I've always-- no, I don't mix the pigments no. I do have, at one time I tried it but I didn't.

Hayes: And you have a wide range of almost everything that you've been--

Gladys Faris: Yeah, the colors are available.

Hayes: I have a question about reproductions, because your work you did for the university could only be widespread if it was reproduced in a print format. We have the originals, by the way, down at the university library. I don't know if you knew that or not.

Gladys Faris: Oh, yeah. Well I have a stack of them, too. But I've never done any to-- I've done them for the university, but I've never done them on my own.

Hayes: Yeah, that was a question for me, because so many of the prints you buy now are watercolor, because it's our only way to get the work at a much broader level. I didn't know if you toyed with the gichle.

Gladys Faris: No, I haven't done that yet.

Hayes: But you could. You might consider that.

Jones: Gichle, gichle.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, I feel like I was born too soon, because these things are available and it used to be if you made reproductions, that was just no, no.

Hayes: In other words, it just wasn't acceptable.

Jones: So anybody who has one of your pieces has the one and only, the original?

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm.

Hayes: Except she did do--

Gladys Faris: At the university I did, yeah.

Hayes: Any others? We mentioned earlier the Sam Bisset, and you elected to do limited editions.

Jones: You had just named a few.

Hayes: And Don Furst, do you know Don Furst?

Gladys Faris: Sure do.

Hayes: The university printmaker, they might do ten copies or 15, but they feel so strongly now, about limited edition of 300 or 500, and yet the watercolorist gets one, and that's a different pressure, so to speak. And then, what price can you charge that rewards that work for one? I don't need to know the answer, but I'm just saying.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, yeah. There was an article in the-- I don't know whether it was the Wall Street Journal or something, and they were talking about the prices. Some of the artists are charging for the reproductions, I mean one with four, five figures for a reproduction.

Hayes: Right, but it's the dilemma of one original makes it tough.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, it's a slow route to go.

Hayes: Or do you find that people start to produce lots of watercolors quickly? Are there certain artists who have kind of grown in that reputation, of dashing off a large number to sell? Because you're talking about hours and hours for each piece right?

Gladys Faris: Well, they don't all take hours, but, well, if you're outside painting, you get on with it because it's going to change. The sun's going to move so the shadows are going to be different.

Jones: I have heard that from two different people who do work in watercolors, and who do sell prints, limited editions, let's say and so on, that it's very difficult to get a proper reproduction done because of the way it's screened, and so many in the early years would fade badly.

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Jones: And particularly certain colors.

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm, blues.

Hayes: Is that what it is, blue?

Gladys Faris: Blue's a little bit worse.

Jones: Blues, and certain shades I guess, of the reds and pinks and black shadows.

Gladys Faris: All of them.

Jones: So it cost so much to have the process, the proper process done, that they would have to charge a lot for the reproductions.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, well maybe.

Jones: But you've not ever gone that route, so you are a little more expensive.

Hayes: What about watercolor itself as a continuing medium, does it hold or do you need to be very light worried about watercolor for--

Gladys Faris: For it fading?

Hayes: Yeah, for originals?

Gladys Faris: I had a painting in our stairwell at the last house we had, where the sun came in every day and it didn't fade. Be careful about your pigments when you buy them. You can go down and some of them are permanent and some aren't.

Jones: Oh, is that right? And how about the glass that you put in front of your picture?

Gladys Faris: I just put the regular glass in. Now you can go out and buy something. I've heard it's very expensive.

Jones: I wonder if they work, because I've done that twice.

Gladys Faris: If it was my own, if I was keeping it myself, but as an artist framing and doing that, it costs more than the bank.

Hayes: A question that comes up many times with watercolor, is how much matting and framing can one accept as an artist? I mean, many times the artist wants it to be basic, and I don't know if you come that way or you care about that I mean if somebody buys it.

Gladys Faris: Right the way they're framed, yeah.

Hayes: The way they frame it. I mean, do you do most of yours in a really basic--

Gladys Faris: I do. I still use those metal frames. I think I may be the only one in town. But they don't offend anything. I mean they're just kind of background. But I have gotten kind of self-conscious about using those, because I go into the galleries and everybody else has got these more expensive frames.

Jones: I noticed here a couple of weeks ago, at that business over at St. James, that most of the frames were very simple so as not to draw your eye away. The purpose of the whole thing was--

Gladys Faris: And to fit in places too, if you get too precise and certain.

Hayes: I think as an artist they want to sell it basic, and then people many times, change it, and I always wonder if the artist worries. I guess if they've sold it, they've sold it, right? Is that it? It's theirs.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, well sometimes. With these more inexpensive frames at the galleries, if somebody comes in and says they want another frame, and particularly a shot that frames their own, sometimes they ask the artist for say, $50 maybe, which, you don't really have that much in it.

Jones: It's expensive enough.

Hayes: And then if you have to get into fancy frames, then that really adds a lot of cost to you.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, you can't stay in business.

Hayes: That's right. That's right.

Gladys Faris: You really can't. That's why I use them.

Jones: I don't use much watercolors as I do in oils or other mediums.

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Jones: But anyway, are we going to take a look? We're going to talk, but I just wanted to let her have a last chance. We kind of joked about your grandson, but what would you say to anybody who has it in the genes and so forth and so on, to be the artist? Do you say "Go for it?" I mean, you've had a wonderful career in art.

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Hayes: What's your advice?

Gladys Faris: Well, by the time he gets there as an artist, maybe there will be other things. Well, I really don't know. Maybe he could be an architect. There might be more areas to go into with your art too, I suspect, because that keeps changing.

Hayes: Do you, as you look back would you see any other way for you then, to be an artist? It sounds like you were destined to be an artist.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, well when I finished at Georgia, Mr. Dodd called me in and he said he thought I ought to go on and get a teacher's degree. So he wrote his friend up at Columbia University and I got a letter back from them saying that they'd accepted me.

Jones: At Columbia?

Gladys Faris: At Columbia.

Hayes: Wow.

Gladys Faris: Well, I mean, all I had to do was go home and tell my poor dad that I was going to New York. I'm going to have to live in an apartment.

Jones: He'd have a heart attack.

Gladys Faris: But anyway, I turned that down. He had just finished putting through one in medical school and one through college. "Oh, Daddy, I want to go some more."

Hayes: So you didn't go that route?

Gladys Faris: No, but I could have gone somewhere a little more reasonable, probably.

Hayes: Well listen, thank you so much for talking. At this point, we're going to pack up and go upstairs and see your studio and your pieces.

Gladys Faris: All right.

Jones: Thank you very much.

Gladys Faris: Well, thank you.

[Tape skips]

Hayes: Okay, we're taking a picture of this handsome gentleman, William Faris.

William Faris: William. Bill for short.

Hayes: Bill for short. And since throughout the interview we keep referring to Bill, we thought maybe we should get him on the camera. How's that? Architect, right, career?

William Faris: Yes.

Hayes: And an artist yourself.

William Faris: I enjoy doing it as a hobby and making those things.

Hayes: Good.

William Faris: But mostly, I am in the profession of architecture.

[Tape skips]

Hayes: Okay, we're here. Yes, you're here and it's on, so tell us a little bit about some of these that we have up on the wall that gives us a sense of-- These are all your works now?

Gladys Faris: Yeah. This one was up at Porter's Neck. That one.

Hayes: It's chairs.

Gladys Faris: Yeah I like to do chairs.

Hayes: Do you? Well that's great. And here's a more traditional, what is this, a country scene?

Gladys Faris: This is one of the Trask's daffodil farm up at Castle Hayne.

Hayes: Well, for these, almost, it seems almost like an, Impressionistic, roots. I don't know if you'd think of that consciously. Now here is one you were showing us earlier.

Jones: Are you finished with this one, or are you still working on it?

Gladys Faris: I think, yeah. No, I've quit. I have to know when to quit. Bill comes in and he says, "I'm going to shoot you." This was up at Figure Eight.

Jones: It looks like it.

Hayes: Now let's talk just a little technique. How many different layers? I mean, first you do layers and layers and layers, so is that the watercolor build-up, kind of?

Gladys Faris: Yeah, you can do that. To begin with, I think my sky was about, maybe not that light, but I came back and made this dark, and then darkened up the rest of it. That was a show at New Elements-- that last show I did, and that's when I thought I was never going to walk again but no, I didn't.

Hayes: Now looking over here at this, this is your building.

Gladys Faris: That's the house up at New Bern.

Hayes: We were just talking about the fact that you really like to do buildings.

Gladys Faris: I do.

Hayes: Yeah, that's interesting, but do you usually like to put other elements in with them to make it more interesting, or is it just whatever's there? Because I see a tree as a great--

Gladys Faris: No, that tree was there. I think that's really probably what with the diagonal if it had been straight up or no tree. It would be--

Hayes: Yeah, yeah, I love that. And here are some of the tools. We're just doing the obvious tools of the trade, so to speak.

Jones: She is multifaceted. There are some people here. We don't have too many people.

Hayes: Well, wait a minute, here's two over here we want to get. She has a great story about this one, where this is a lady here. Oh, what a nice picture, but again as I was talking, downstairs-- not super realism, more of an element of abstract and realism together.

Gladys Faris: A little.

Hayes: That's great. And you said that you actually hired, a group of you hired this lady?

Gladys Faris: The group, the painting group or the drawing, whatever you want to do there, but I went down there and asked if she'd do it and she was happy to do it.

Hayes: Good.

Gladys Faris: We pay her too, and she had a job down there.

Hayes: And what about this one in the corner here? I'll try and get that.

Gladys Faris: Again, that was one of the models.

Hayes: Yeah, because it is, I mean unless you're working from a photograph it takes a long time for a model. Do they have to stay still that whole time?

Gladys Faris: We had about a two and a half hour session, so you jump in it, but that's good for me, because if I have all day long, I'll take it and overdo.

Hayes: Okay, great.

Gladys Faris: And I'm totally, I was going to show you early.

Hayes: Good, good.

[Tape skips]

Jones: Now can you see? You might have light bouncing off of it.

Hayes: We're doing pretty well. I mean, this is not the final record. That's a nice one, that leaning boy.

Jones: Right, and here's an interesting one I think.

Hayes: Oh, yeah.

Jones: Uh-huh.

Hayes: Now tell us a little bit about these two that are down here. You're like consciously leaving elements out. Is that the purpose?

Gladys Faris: On the lower one.

Hayes: Well even the face. You're not saying, "I'm going to go into great detail."

Jones: I'm trying to keep this still. Have you got this one?

Hayes: I've got that one, yeah.

Gladys Faris: Doing shapes.

Hayes: And how about the one down here. Is this finished? I like it, I mean.

Gladys Faris: The more I do, that's why I stop at that point. Sometimes I can go back and see what to do, but a little something there would be enough.

Hayes: Well, I think it's different. Otherwise, it becomes just a photographic. Hold that one.

Jones: Look at the bright one. Here is this yours? I would assume it is.


Hayes: She's practicing with color.

Gladys Faris: That's oil.

Hayes: This is the one that she says she keeps trying.

Jones: Well that's the only way to experiment. You have to do that.

Gladys Faris: That's one of mine.

Jones: From Southwest.

Gladys Faris: No, that's from my college days.

Hayes: Oh, my God.

Gladys Faris: This is from college days.

Hayes: We talked about--

Jones: Can you see this?

Hayes: When you're learning and working intensely with different teachers. There's a temptation to kind of end up following their way.

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm.

Hayes: But then you have to eventually find your own way. Is that right?

Gladys Faris: You do.

Jones: I'll put these back.

Hayes: I love this one behind you there, Carroll, in the sense of detail, so often.

Jones: That looks like part over near where-- well, it could be France too.

Gladys Faris: It's France.

Jones: That's what it looks like.

Hayes: But the choice of detail I see, a lot of yours is not the whole building, doesn't have to be the whole building, right?

Gladys Faris: No, it doesn't. It's in layer at Myrtle Beach.

Hayes: Really? I was going to guess your Southwest.

Gladys Faris: I could say that, couldn't I?

Hayes: Well, I guess the trees would be a little bit different. Is this yours here, too?

Gladys Faris: That's France, yeah.

Jones: That's so typically France, the geraniums everywhere.

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Hayes: Those are great.

Gladys Faris: I loved France.

Jones: Those are great. Did you go to Avignon? Well I'm sure you did, go to-- there's two places. I love that. Okay, we're going to end here on this one, and this is your children?

Gladys Faris: That's Graham and Jeannie, yes.

Hayes: Their names are?

Gladys Faris: Graham.

Hayes: And?

Gladys Faris: Jeannie.

Hayes: Jeannie. And you've got lots of grandchildren now.

Gladys Faris: Uh-huh.

Hayes: That was good. They were good subjects. They didn't stay still that whole time, I don't suppose.

Gladys Faris: No.

Hayes: Did they?

Gladys Faris: No. They didn't.

Hayes: It won't be as clear, but it'll get a sense of these are some of the various publicity and promotion for various New Elements.

Gladys Faris: New Elements. That was a show.

Hayes: In 2002, great.

Gladys Faris: The last show I've had.

Hayes: Well, that's all right.

Gladys Faris: That was at Converse. They invited some alumni to come.

Hayes: Oh, interesting. That's great.

Gladys Faris: And here we are. We went out to paint. Oh that's Jodie, no that's Betty. That's Jodie. That's Betty and that's me.

Hayes: I see you're all wearing hats to protect you from the sun.

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Hayes: That's good.

Gladys Faris: Oh, that reminds me.

Hayes: She looks the part of the artist in that one.

Gladys Faris: We were sitting in the poppies. That was front page.

Jones: Let's see here. Here is her.

Hayes: Oh, and here's a joint show, oh. I wonder where that one was at?

Jones: Well this is in New Mexico here, and this, I don't know, this is such a good place.

Hayes: Oh, this is great.

Jones: Have you ever been out there to Taos or to New Mexico?

Hayes: Yeah.

Jones: The sky is blue. The clouds are white if there are any clouds.

Hayes: Where did you have this travel show at?

Gladys Faris: Oh, at Wilson, North Carolina.

Hayes: Oh, wow.

Gladys Faris: Yeah and they put that in. I don't know. That was traveled.

Hayes: And are these your works here?

Gladys Faris: Yeah.

Hayes: Wow, those are great. Now see we were talking about richer color and there it is, isn't it?

Gladys Faris: Uh huh, yeah. When they print them they pop them up a little bit.

Hayes: Oh, do they okay. But it's still--

Gladys Faris: That's one thing you can do.

Hayes: Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute. We have to get this on record. Oh, my goodness.

Jones: Oh, my. And how long ago was this?

Gladys Faris: We went down to-- you got it?

Hayes: Well, we're going to have to have her tell it from left to right. Hold it there. I'm going to put it against white so it shows up better.

Gladys Faris: Back row is Jennie.

Hayes: Virginia Wright-Frierson.

Gladys Faris: Middle is Kay Ballard and Betty Brown.

Hayes: In the back again?

Gladys Faris: Yeah and Jodie and me.

Hayes: There you go, oh my goodness.

Gladys Faris: And we were called the hats because we kept going back and forth into Airlie garden, and the guy would say, "Oh here are the hats again." These are the paintings that we'd place around. You'd start it and then everybody would--

Jones: And everybody would work on it.

Hayes: Oh, that's funny.

Jones: That is funny. And what would happen to the completed painting? Who got it?

Gladys Faris: Betty sold one of hers. I'm not sure. I still got mine. We all signed it.

Hayes: And this is a show you had?

Gladys Faris: This is a show at Sumter, South Carolina. And this man that wrote this thing up I hadn't had it. He had the nicest things to say about me.

Jones: Oh, good for you.

Gladys Faris: I know. I'll have to save that.

Hayes: So, you went back to some South Carolina roots, which is nice.

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Hayes: A story about the two artists in the same family, which is great.

Gladys Faris: Right, yeah.

Hayes: Good, some things that UNCW will get a sense of your whole--

Gladys Faris: Yeah, we had that at UNCW is a sense of your whole--

Hayes: Uh-huh, St. John's, a varied career. Well I think the paper here in particular really understands the good art community makes a difference, doesn't it?

Gladys Faris: Well, they do, and you know, I'd say they're not that generous any more, with any kind of-- I was lucky to come along during this stage where they did pay attention and do articles, but there are so many artists around.

Hayes: I wonder if it's something to do with just how many?

Gladys Faris: That's it.

Jones: Do you think supposing, well I do feel this way, maybe you do that the art community, the word art encompasses so many different things whether it's theater, music, pottery.

Gladys Faris: Yeah, they have to come [inaudible>]

Jones: Design, whatever, that they are.

Hayes: Well I think we're-- I tell people now that we're in the three-county area, over 300,000 people, so to cover even one artist is a challenge, and there must be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.

Jones: Like somebody said, there are those who think they are.

Hayes: Well, I'm willing to accept. Now, this is a drawing invitational at Wilson, Atlantic Christian College.

Gladys Faris: Mm-hmm.

Hayes: So you definitely showed your work.

Jones: You do like chairs, don't you?

Gladys Faris: Yes. I don't know why. They're hard to do. Rocking chairs are the hardest.

Hayes: That's great. Here's Morris County and Southern Pines.

Gladys Faris: That one went to Duke.

Hayes: Wow.

Gladys Faris: They were collecting at that time.

Jones: Oh, is that the same lady? That's not the same lady.

Gladys Faris: Yes.

Jones: This is?

Gladys Faris: Oh, no, no.

Jones: That you painted upstairs.

Gladys Faris: No. Huh-uh.

Jones: That's great. That looks very Charleston type.

Gladys Faris: Now we're getting back into the old St. John's.

Hayes: Oh, that's great.

Gladys Faris: There's the letter from the [inaudible].

Hayes: This is a letter from Henry.

Gladys Faris: Uh-huh. Can you get it without shine?

Hayes: Yeah, I think so. So, he had been here and then moved away, and still was in Greenville, but the family still has roots?

Gladys Faris: Here, oh absolutely.

Hayes: The McKoys.

Gladys Faris: Ella Seeta is, I guess, the only one left now, and I think, well, I think I said that that he and his brother owned the building, and he told me later, when I talked to him, that his part he gave to the--

Jones: Mm-hmm.

Hayes: Okay, well we're going to end on St. John's, which kind of--

Gladys Faris: I think I never did get this.

Hayes: That's all right.

Gladys Faris: This is in St. John's. No, this is in--

Hayes: That's great. Fortunately, nobody can see our old glasses, right, that we always had to wear back then.

Gladys Faris: You mean the big ones.

Hayes: The big ones, yeah. Well listen, thank you once again, wonderful, wonderful.

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