With a painting career spanning three decades, nationally acclaimed artist D. Morgan embraces the future with new products and new directions.
D. Morgan cannot remember a time when she did not yearn to be an artist. “I have no memory of ever wanting to do anything else,” she says. “For years, I’ve had this burning desire to paint, and today I remain just as excited about my painting career.” Her artistic style and personality are a delightful combination of both her parents. A strong southern woman raised in Georgia, she lovingly refers to her parents as ‘Daddy’ and ‘Mother.’ “I have this part of me that is my mother, a city girl. Mother is phenomenal! She is alive and vibrant, and continues to drive and prepare meals for herself.” Morgan says her father “had the biggest heart of any human being I’ve ever known. He had the patience of Job. Daddy was like a father and grandfather to me, because, like a grandparent, he explained things to me, and he never judged or was quick to criticize.”
The Need to Draw
Under her father’s guidance and encouragement, Morgan says she “fell in love with art. All my daddy’s spare time was spent painting, so it became familiar to me. I learned to paint by watching and listening to him, then trying it myself. When I was a young child in the classroom, I often drew instead of studying subjects like math. I couldn’t help myself-I had to draw!” After being ‘self-taught’ by her father, Morgan received formal art training at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art. Later, Morgan took break from painting to raise her two children. “I didn’t want to pursue art as a career during those years, because I was much more interested in being with my children and doing all those things ‘super-moms’ did in the late ’50s and ‘60s.” However, a passion for painting remained in Morgan’s blood. “I could only do without painting for so long.” Morgan remembers painting at her kitchen table, then clearing away the tools of her trade before starting the family’s evening dinner.
Morgan returned to the art world in 1972, initially taking part in sidewalk art shows. Soon, she displayed at larger shows and juried events. “Artists can make a comfortable living from those shows, but your career is as short-lived as a baseball player’s. It means late nights, early mornings loading vans and doing setups at shows. The work can be profitable, if you have youth on your side forever!”
Author. Pioneer Artist
One of the first to use the technique that has become her signature style, Morgan’s handwritten, original prose is interspersed within the framework of her distinctive paintings. A touching four-line poem is included on every piece of artwork she creates. The popularity of these verses has made Morgan’s work highly recognizable and collectible.
Those who collect Morgan’s artwork are attracted to her innate understanding of life and human emotion. Lee Holland, a Florida-based musician who avidly collects Morgan’s work, says: “I liken D. to a quilter. She uses her talent to sew the fabric of everyday life into the beautiful patchwork: quilt that becomes her art.” Cheryl Reed-Koch, an Illinois- based collector who owns more than 200 pieces of Morgan’s work, says: “D.’s work evokes memories of special times in one’s life, which makes it seem as though a particular painting was done especially for you.” Both collectors have shared Morgan’s artwork with countless friends and family members, introducing them to her unique style and heartwarming verses.
The verses reflect various sentiments, including love, dreams, inspiration, family, friends, home and angels. “Sometimes a thought or several words comes to me, so I jot the words down.” Morgan has collected hundreds of verses and keeps them carefully organized. “I may edit and finish a particular verse much later. In that way, my words are patient.”
Morgan’s first book, entitled “Blessings of Home” was published by Harvest House in 1998. Since then, her artwork and verses have been featured in coffee table books that are themed around Christmas, the sea and lighthouses, friendship and country churches.
Morgan’s licensed artwork appears on many products, including calendars, gift books, greeting cards, house wares, linens, afghans, apparel and more. “Licensing is a venture out of the art world that has been such an incredible approach for me. After 14 years as a licensed artist, I’m still in awe when I walk in a store and see items with my art on them. I try to keep my cool, but it’s hard not to turn into an excited child!” Leo Licensing LLC of Baxter, TN is her licensing agent.
Much of Morgan’s painting is done at her mountain studio in Georgia. The home, Morgan says, “is not a formal house, and is not a cabin. It has a wonderful in-between style.” The attic loft was designed as Morgan’s studio space and she takes inspiration from the natural lighting and lake-view balcony. While painting, Morgan listens to selections from her eclectic music collection, including classical and Big Band-era tunes, and “everything Sarah Vaughan has ever recorded.” In addition to their mountain home , retreat, Morgan and her husband also keep a house in Conyers, GA near Atlanta. They live in a historic home rich in architectural detail, which provides a strong connection to her southern heritage and inspires nostalgia so often reflected in her verse.
In her leisure time, Morgan and her husband Ed, enjoy boating, entertaining friends, ballroom dancing and cruises. ” Dancing and dressing up are part of the fun of a cruise. When I paint, I wear my wardrobe of paint clothes-they’re clean and comfortable, but they are covered with paint stains. When we cruise, there are formal and semi-formal nights. Then, I wear after five dresses with sequins and all the glitter and glitz.”
Morgan raised two children, a son and daughter. Her daughter Debbie Kingston Baker, is also a professional artist. Using watercolors, Kingston Baker incorporates Bible Scripture into her designs. Morgan lost her son in 1989. After his death, Morgan wrote several of her signature verses as part of the grieving process, “Now, those verses are joyous memories which are such a comfort to me. One of my favorites, written about my son, is ‘Seldom an evening has ended, rarely a new day begins, that I don’t think about you. Good times, trueloves, old friends.”