A Maumelle artist’s works will be featured during the month of April at the Patrick Henry Hays Senior Center in North Little Rock.

Florals and Fruits, an exhibit of paintings by Dr. Mary Ann Stafford of Maumme will be displayed throughout the month. The Media used are pastel, watercolor, acrylic, and colored pencil.

Several of the works have received awards from various regional shows. Stafford is a signature member of the Pastel Society of the Southwest, The Arkansas League of Artists, and the Mid-Southern Watercolor Society.

Stafford said she has loved art her whole life.

"I have always drawn, even as a toddler," said Stafford. "My parents told me that my first word was ‘me-me’ which meant, ‘Give me a pencil. I always knew that I wanted to be an artist, although music was a second love.

Living in Arkansas in the 1940s and 1950s meant that there were no real art classes available in school.

"I filled that gap as I could by taking mechanical drawing in the high school and private lessons from a local artist," according to Stafford.

On completing high school, she attended the Kansas City Art Institute but was called back home after one year because of her father’s illness.

"It was after that that I married and began raising a large family," she said.

She still dreamt about becoming an artist, however.

"The year at KCAI instilled my passion for making marks on paper to record shapes, contrasts of value and intensity, and strong design elements," said Stafford. "After my children were old enough to attend school, I completed a BS degree in education and began teaching. I also started taking more classes in art, and was able to begin the first art program at Pine Bluff High School in Southwest Arkansas. Teaching art to high school students opened my eyes to a plethora of different media, and I started working with pastels."

She later completed a doctorate in secondary education with emphasis on art education, and was assistant principal for several years before working at the Arkansas Department of Education as a staff development coordinator. After retirement, she was able to finally realize her dream of being a full-time artist.

"Landscapes and still life subjects have been my themes for several years, especially in pastel and watercolor," Stafford said. "I also love to draw, and in the last three years, I have worked extensively in pen and ink and colored pencil. The act of making marks with a fine ink pen or sharpened colored pencil fills me with calmness and pleasure. There is something about fineness and delineation of individual strokes that appeals to me. I started doing this as a result of teaching Beginning and Advanced Drawing at the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School. Line, contrast, and shape are my hallmarks whether in a drawing or a painting."

She recently completed a series of pen and ink drawings of historic buildings on the National Register in the Argenta District of North Little Rock.

In 2012, she was awarded a scholarship from the Arkansas committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts to complete this series and publish the drawings with historical and architectural facts as a coffee table type book. This book will be published sometime this year.

Her artworks can be seen at Gallery 221 in Little Rock and Eurekan Art in Eureka Springs. Her website www.staffordart.com.

"I am currently writing a blog about teaching and making art at www.pastelanne.wordpress.com. My paintings and drawings have been included in two publications: Best of America: Pastel Artists, and Art & Artisans of the Ozarks," she said.