My parents, John Howard and Eva Ralf, met while both were performing in the New York Broadway musical "Hazel Flag." A few years later, I was born in Los Angeles, California.
With encouragement from my fifth-grade teacher, Charlotte Duque, I began to think of myself as an artist. She made a lovely pen and ink drawing of me, while I sat reading a book, and encouraged me to paint a large portrait of the Franciscan friar Junipero Serra for our class history project. A few years later, my parents were hired to teach at a Waldorf school, and we moved to the San Fernando Valley. By the time I was sixteen, my mother ran what amounted to a family business; my sister and myself took her classical ballet classes, and our brother accompanied classes on piano. At Roland Dupree Dance Academy in Los Angeles, I taught beginning ballet, while also performing modern dance with Richard Oliver and Rudy Perez, until marriage led me to move to the San Francisco Bay Area. I continued to teach at preschools for a few years in the Palo Alto area. But I continued taking art courses, and one drawing instructor suggested I enroll at S.F.A.I. I took this to heart, and we moved to San Francisco, where I completed my B.F.A. degree.
Looking back, I have realized that most of my family have been involved in the arts, including my in-laws.
While the necessities of marketing require that our work be identified in terms of media, genre and style, I wish that we artists -- particularly those of us who can work in various disciplines -- would not have to be pigeonholed into categories. And I am aware that a few are not.
A full list would be too long, but here are a few artists whose work has informed mine: Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Stock, Jay De Feo, Frida Kahlo, Dorothy Cross, Lucien Freud, Martha Alf, and my art instructors, Tom Akawie, Julius Hatofsky, Carlos Villa, Franklin Williams, Bruce McGaw, as well as Martine Jardel, Francesca Pastine, Hifumi Ogawa, P.K. Kelly, Hadley Northrop, Ciara Bedingfield, Lesie Bauer, Amanda Haas, Nancy White, Johanna Baruch, Marta Sanchez-Vasquez, Alex Grey, plus so many more. Some of these artists are still friends who continue to inspire and teach me. My thanks also to Bob Hsiang for all the years of excellent photography. My deepest thanks to my husband, family, and friends for all their support.
My appreciation also goes to all those with whom I studied at Mt. St. Mary's College, Foothill Community College, City College of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Art Institute, and also to Mara Freeman for her Celtic workshops at the University of California, Santa Cruz.