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Artist Dot Courson teaches workshops and has experience in watercolor, pastels, and pen and ink, though she now primarily paints in oil. A gifted artist from childhood, she honed her skills through workshops at art schools. She and her husband, Jackie, live in Pontotoc and are the proud parents of three grown children and grandparents of seven grandchildren.

While Dot Courson always felt she was gifted with artistic ability, it wasn't until she was grown that she began to develop her skills. "I took a few art classes in college, but I became a registered nurse before pursuing art through the atelier systems of art schools," she says.

Although Courson didn't spend her formative years studying art, her talent was recognized early on. During her junior high years, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher volunteered to offer a painting and drawing class during her free period. The kindness of this teacher to share her talent with students opened the door for Courson to imagine a world where she could be an artist. "She was a modern artist," says Courson. "But she didn't put requirements on what we did. She invited professors from Ole Miss to judge an art show of our work." Courson was thrilled to be recognized, winning blue ribbons in painting and drawing. "They said I was a 'natural impressionist' and advised me to continue my art."

And Courson has followed this sage advice. Over the span of her career, her works have been included in art books and magazines. She has won many regional and national awards, and in 2014 she was chosen as one of five artists to attend Ireland's Art in the Open to be featured and teach at the event. She has been the highlight of many exhibitions in her home state of Mississippi as well as New York, and in 2018 she was inducted into the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Museum as a Legend in Visual Arts.

As the daughter of a parent with a communication deficit, she saw how her father was able to transcend his inability to speak or hear to garner respect for his artwork. "His profession was as a farmer and even factory worker, but it was his artistic ability that he took seriously and had pride in, and he truly respected his own talent," she says.

Courson was able to appreciate a great deal about life and having a passion for art from him. "I learned that being an artist was something worthy to aspire to as a profession. It was something others respected."

Just as her father's gifts taught her to enjoy art, it was visiting her grandparent's home in the Delta that also had a significant influence on her art. "They were sharecroppers living in a shotgun house, and when we visited them--the lay of the land, the big wide pastel sky, the constant wind blowing across the cotton fields--it was so different from my home in the hills. It made a huge impression on me and my future art," Courson shares.

The images that she recreates on canvas make owning a piece of her work a treasure. "I want others to revere God's creation and see the natural beauty of the lush and rich rural South. My greatest pleasure is to hear a collector say, 'I know this place' when viewing a piece of my work that came from my imagination and memory."

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Title Annotation:HERITAGE & CULTURE: Artist in Residence
Author:Ward, Melanie M.
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2019
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