Beverly Herndon 6

Oriental Brushwork Artist

How do you describe your style of painting? 
What do you hope to evoke in viewers?

Chinese Brushwork Painting is an ancient art form, originating in China over 2,000 years ago. The paintings show our relationship with nature, the natural beauty and the awe-inspiring scenes and subjects: landscapes, birds, flowers, people and all that surrounds us. Painting with ink and watercolor on rice paper, I use traditional and contemporary techniques in my paintings. Most of the strokes are done with round-tip brushes of varying sizes. Monochromatic paintings done only in ink tones are considered high form. When color is used, there must be some ink work in the paintings as well. What I wish for the viewer is to feel some kind of connection with the painting, and get a sense of peace.

When did you first begin to dabble in art, and when did 
you know you wanted to pursue it professionally?

I was 30 when I first studied this style of art. I had dabbled with watercolor, but had no formal training. A friend recommended I take Ming-fai Yu’s class, and this started a journey of many years. I considered myself just a student for a long time, but after exhibiting and actually selling my art, I gradually accepted the “artist” profession.

Did you have any mentors you’d like to mention?

I’ve studied with several well-known brushwork artists: Ming-fai Yu, Martha Rust, Nancy Rupp and Marie Young, to name a few. Martha mentored and taught me for many years. Her encouragement and faith in me led me further down this path.

Where do you exhibit your art?

Currently, you can see my art at the Firehouse Art Center and Downtown Art and Frame in Norman. I still participate in Norman’s May Fair.

I know you have shared your talent with school children 
(and adults) over the years; can you discuss that?

I teach children and adult classes at the Firehouse Art Center and participate in the Norman Public Schools Visiting Artist Program. I have done this since the 1990s, and it is still gratifying to watch kids who think that it is going to be difficult create a lovely painting, and realize that they can actually pull it off–sometimes in just an hour! I’ve had repeat students, sometimes for years. Children should all have the opportunity to try many kinds of art. Not only does it give them a sense of accomplishment, but it affects all aspects of the lives. I also teach adult classes at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Where do you find inspiration?

Ideally, brushwork artists go out and study nature, take long walks and absorb the beauty we see, then go back to the studio and paint what we remember. Sometimes I take photos or sketch to enhance my memory. I also have a lot of art books that stir my imagination.

Would you like to mention family, pets and/or other 
personal interests or activities?

My cat, Raindrop, loves to drink my painting water–no ill effects from the inky residue. I do try to remember to empty it when I finish painting. My husband and daughter have always been supportive. When I fretted about money for taking classes, John would way, “Take the class, it makes you happy!”

What are some of your other interests?

I grew up playing the piano. I played for choir groups, mixed choruses and, of course, for friends, family and myself. My childhood friends were surprised when they saw my artwork. Well, I didn’t [practice art] when they knew me growing up. When I started painting, I sort of let the music slide into the background. Recently, however, I’ve had the opportunity to accompany for Whittier Middle School choir concerts. I love it, and those people also know me as an artist with the Visiting Artist program.

Beverly Herndon can be contacted at or by phone at 329.4006.