RETIRED HALLMARK ARTIST
I am a native Independence, Missouri artist, who enjoyed a 31-year career with Hallmark Cards, Inc., and now specialize in contemporary realism portraits, commissions, and personal painting projects.
I always liked to draw and paint, although I can’t say that I was driven to do it or was great at it. So much about doing good art was a mystery to figure out for myself. I was often stymied, lost, and dissatisfied with my results. Years later, I realized that, unlike learning music, art fundamentals weren’t basic enough to make learning it easy. I was interested enough, though, to keep at it and developed moderate skill. Art showed it was very important to me when I entered college. I chose Art over English because making English my major would not allow me to take art classes.
My Hallmark career came by circumstance when two high school artist friends hired on in Hallmark's engraving department and encouraged me to apply after my sophomore year. Hallmark’s world of greeting cards was headquartered in Kansas City where I lived. This was a God given dream job, being part of the largest commercial art staff in the world, where I received skilled on-the-job art training. My first job was to hand separate original artwork from the design studio into grayscale printing plates. I replicated line drawings in ink for emboss and hot foil engraving plates. I painted flitter, flocking, and gold ink plates. This training developed an eye and steady hand for the smallest detail, width of line, and color variation. Also, I took classes from a master portrait artist in Kansas City to augment my skills. These disciplines provided the consistent experience I needed and used to do art from then on. Gradually, I advanced into Hallmark’s Creative Design staff and created original work for season and everyday greeting cards and giftwrap.
As I acquired a comprehensive art knowledge, summer interns and new hires were placed with me to train. In addition, I taught youth art classes at summer camps. In 2017, for a year, I taught elementary after-school classes for Betty Feller’s Young Rembrandts drawing fundamentals program.
I married Bruce Luedeman in 1992. We adopted a girl and a boy from China - Jenna in 1997, and Winn in 2001. I took early retirement in 1999 to stay home and began a portrait commission business when the kids entered school. I did commissions of people, pets, and places, and special interest subjects, like gardens and Super Bowl images in oils, pastels, and terra-cotta Prismacolor pencil.
In April 2019, I opened ELOAH Creative Art Studio at 2425 S. Crysler Avenue, Independence, Missouri. I loved teaching art - as much as I did my own painting and drawing - especially for those who don’t think they can draw. I taught step by step fundamental drawing and painting lessons, and Spirit-led art experiences.
At the end of 2021, I was led to concentrate on honing my painting skills to professional fine art ability and developing my personal style. All my years at Hallmark I replicated so many other artists, I am not sure yet what “my style” is. That is my quest currently – to paint what inspires me, excites me, and makes me happy, to paint powerful, meaningful things and distinctive moments in time in my hometown. I have put teaching to the side for a season.
Because of the way my life has come about, I sense God is working His plan for me, opening doors of opportunity for further creative development, self-expression, and benefitting my community. The best thing I can do is to let Him lead as He will and discover who I am and my purpose in His grand design. I feel I will come to know Him and myself more fully as I delve deep into the gift of painting.