I was born in April of 1965 in the small town of Belle Glade, FL, also known as “Muck City”. The town was named for the type of ground needed to grow sugar cane

My father, Gus, was a carpenter and my mother, Bettie, was a waitress. However, my father had traveling in his blood and by the time I was three months old, he decided to seek other “fortunes”. This would happen about every three months or so. We’d be off again to pursue new adventures. So this was my life, moving from town to town, state to state, with very little money, changing schools an average of three times per year.

As a low-income, working mother of four, it was vital that my mother be resourceful. One of the ways she would entertain us would be to go outside for walks and collect leaves, seed pods, rocks, and moss. She knew how to identify the trees by the shape, color, and smell of the leave. We created leaf collections and pressed flower books together.

We also spent much of our childhood playing outside, building forts out of limbs, and playing in the woods. I was profoundly influenced by the exposure to the natural environment. Due to the perpetual traveling, I found it difficult to make new friends. However, I always felt at home in nature.

Fast forward to 1997, I began my career as a Recreation Aide working in an urban park in North Miami Fl. During my first year, I met a woman from Haiti named Ginette Rousseau. She instructed a leaf printing class. I worked marginally with the leaf printing off and on until I found myself giving more and more time to my job.

I put leaf printing aside until I was given the book “Look What I Did With A Leaf” by Morteza E. Sohi. I was so inspired by the illustrations in the book. I took out my paints, collected leaves and flowers, and began creating my designs.

I eventually picked up photography to assist with flora and fauna identification at work. I have a particular fondness for insects and spiders, hence, I fell in love with macro photography. I drew inspiration from the photography to begin experimenting with leaf-printing again.

I utilized the little I learned from Ginette and began self-teaching new techniques. I learned to incorporate pressed leaves and flowers with the leaf prints to create my own style. My first completed project using this technique was “Betty Butterfly”, an illustrated, educational story teaching the life cycle of a butterfly.

My style has evolved so much since then, but I always look back on those long days with my mother in the woods for inspiration. I would not be the artist, or person, I am today without the people who have helped me find my way. We are all shaped by our past and my art is an expression of that.

I hope you enjoy experiencing my art as much as I love creating it.

Happy living,

-Lola J.