Artist gathers awards

Published 12:19 pm Thursday, May 14, 2009

It’s that time again. May and June translate to gifts needed — graduation and wedding. Or maybe you just need to give yourself something nice, like a painting?

I’ve discovered all gifting answers in award–winning Shelby County artist Joyce Cates Byrd. She’ll be showing her talents at the upcoming Seventh–annual Art in the Garden Show at Aldridge Gardens in Hoover June 6–7, and will have original art, prints and note cards available.

I joined Byrd at her home; we talked about art and nature, life. She’s painted prolifically since early 1990’s, but loved art way back.

“Nature … God’s beautiful earth (is her inspiration). I titled my note cards ‘Joys from the Soul’,” Byrd said. “And my children, grandchildren are encouraging, supportive.”

Byrd’s paintings are very diverse: some acrylic, others watercolor. They’re still life, landscapes, seascapes, flowers and architecture. One painting of the Donnelly House on Highland Avenue was featured in the Birmingham-Hoover Sketchbook published by Indigo Custom.

Then she brought out a print, a restaurant in San Francisco.

“This was a commissioned piece,” she said. “But the most unusual commissioned work was a mother, who asked, ‘Will you paint birds on a wire for my son?’”

Byrd paints from photos or from life. One such painting includes a green wine bottle with red stopper.

“I rummaged in the wine section of Bruno’s until I found that bottle … just the right color,” she smiled, bringing it from a rack.

Then we browsed her greatest inspiration: gardens, a stunning lake view with mountain beyond. She even has a eucalyptus tree.

“A Master Gardener told me eucalyptus wouldn’t grow in Alabama,” she said.

I looked at its beautiful 12–15 foot trunk, twisted bark in two-tone brown, sage-green leafy fronds spiraling, draping gracefully. That’s when I knew, Byrd’s gifts include gardener.

From the blueberry bushes hanging full, plum trees and vegetable garden to flowers in abundance — roses, Siberian iris, lilies, Confederate Rose, salvia — inspiration abounds. Byrd is an active member of several organizations, including Hoover/Shelby Art Association, Mountain Brook Art Association, National League of American Pen Women and Watercolor Society of Alabama. Her “Cahaba Lily Duo” painting won Special Merit Award in the Fifth–annual Alabama Flora & Fauna Art Show, and is available for purchase. She may be reached at