On the Road with Pamela Ramey Tatum
If you do not know Pamela Ramey Tatum, I am so delighted to introduce you! If you do, you already know that you are quite a fortunate person. Here come the adjectives: Pamela is a smart, funny, talented, loving, enthusiastic, complimentary, beautiful, diverse, unique soul.
If you follow her on Facebook, you know how important family is to her. So many of her posts are devoted to the memories of loved ones as well as the celebration of those still alive. And her husband! Goodness gracious, that man is loved! He must know how incredibly blessed he is to be showered with such adoration and I’m sure he is just as head over heels for her. And here’s the exceptional part…Pamela makes everyone feel as if they are special to her, because she genuinely cares about the people she knows.
I didn’t always realize this about her. One of the first times I heard her name mentioned was when Sally Mackay, one of the founders of The Hub on Canal, warned, “Don’t make the mistake of calling her Pam. She doesn’t like it.” Despite my fear of calling her “Pam” or committing some other fatal error, I soon found myself signed up for one of Pamela’s palette knife classes because I so admired the vibrancy and texture of her work. (Dang, she makes it look easy, deftly lifting just the right amount of paint to transfer to canvas and combine with other pigments to create glorious colors and magical images.) Before the first hour was over, my trepidation had disappeared, I was admiring her teaching ability, and I felt like she was someone I would love to know.
How did she get to this point? Curious minds wanted to know. It was not a straight highway. Follow me as I discovered the detours, less-traveled roads, and no-name paths that led Pamela to her present landing place, luckily for us.
Pamela is one of five girls born to beloved parents. Although her much loved father has passed on, her mother continues to be an inspiration to her children. According to Pamela, her mom can do anything artistic although she now primarily paints in watercolor and oil. Her mom introduced her to literature at a young age, (i.e., Tender Is the Night at about fourteen years old.)
Until middle school, young Pamela had only concentrated on pencil sketches. In 7th grade, art teacher Dr. Van sent her down a new avenue, introducing her to color and off she flew! At 16, she was accepted into a commercial art program. While she loved the first year—lots of drawing—Pamela soon discovered that technical art was not for her. She said, “I knew I had the soul of a fine artist and did not want to be a technical artist.” So, where to go next?
College found her majoring in English, another passion. While there, she never took an art class, and I don’t know when she would have had time. The writing and reading involved in an English literature major occupied her time, along with a minor in theater (and she was very close to a minor in French). She acted in several theater productions and directed a Tennessee Williams play for “Studio E” which was one of her fondest college memories. It was open to the public, admission was charged, and she got rave reviews for directing.
So, after college, my future art instructor, Pamela Ramey Tatum, began teaching speech, literature and writing at UCF and Valencia while also working at the tutoring center and working as a mentor in REAP, a mentorship program. An International Language School housed at UCF recruited her from the tutoring center where she became lead teacher and taught advanced ESOL classes. Oh, and in her spare time, she was pursuing her master’s degree. Art was pushed to the back burner.
After completing her master’s, she took another route, spending the next five years as executive recruiter for Lear and Associates. At Lear she had lots of clients in New York City, so she would visit quarterly. This period resulted in NYC becoming a major source of inspiration in the paintings she would create later in life. Although she was very successful in her position, even winning awards along the way, it eventually left her feeling unfulfilled.
Again, Pamela changed courses, this time to India! Pamela served as academic director, English teacher, and theater director of an international boarding school there, and managed to find time to do some are, silk painting and block printing, as well as clothing design. (We’ll see her re-visit this road later.) Following this position, Pamela took time to explore lots of paths which led her to Eastern Europe, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and Greece.
So, what road did this intrepid explorer choose next? Why, the Edgewater Yoga & Arts Studio, of course! She founded the school/studio where she taught Kundalini yoga, Law of Attraction, and sacred sex, and had others teaching acting, drawing, dance, and enough other offerings to fill a three-page brochure. She had envisioned having a little area for her studio there. However, she had very little time to paint, and her only art during that time was taking the life drawing class at her studio, with nudes as her models. (Again, we will tread upon this path later.)
After closing her yoga studio, Pamela was undecided about her next path, so she meditated about it. “Medical sales,” her meditations startlingly revealed. With no experience, but following the suggestion, she applied for several jobs, and one of the first responses was from a doctor needing a salesperson. He had had tremendous success with the alternative-to-medicine device, The Alpha-Stim, and as Central Florida distributor, he wanted to introduce it to other doctors. During the telephone interview they both felt a connection. During the second interview, in person, he had no questions for her, but showed her the device, explained the job, and then introduced her to everyone in his office. He never interviewed anyone else; she had impressed him so much that she had the job. Indeed, she continued to impress him and he, her. So impressed were they both, in fact, they married a little more than a year later.
A part of her, though, was still missing. She knew it was time to get serious about her art. She. Painted from home and began entering shows. Her chosen medium at the time was watercolor., but she had an unusual approach. She dry-brushed because she didn’t like the way the paint went wherever it chose to go when she added the water. She was too precise for that, and several artists suggested that she should try oil. A class in oil painting at Crealde in Winter Park
Opened a new path for Pamela, and watercolor became a vision in her rearview mirror. Oddly enough though. One of her teachers at a workshop saw her watercolor paintings and wanted to buy one which she no longer possessed. He suggested that she make prints of her work, and her first print sale was made, and it was a watercolor.
So, Pamela began taking a slew of classes and even had a mentor, Bob Dorman. During this road trip, she was painting lot of figures and portraits, long a favorite subject. Many of the portraits were of scantily clad ladies, commissioned by the subjects themselves or by loved ones. Sally Mackay saw one of the portraits eleven years ago and invited Pamela to a new and extraordinary endeavor, The Hub on Canal, and she remains in that original Hub studio space. In the first two years at The Hub, besides painting, Pamela taught Kundalini yoga and Law of Attraction there. After many requests and realizing that she could probably do what some of her instructors did, she finally decided to teach palette knife painting, her first art teaching position, also at The Hub. When I asked which of her students was the most extraordinary, she said, “The first one to come to mind is Elaine Tillard, who was already a great artist.” Msl Tillard was not and is not a palette knife artist; her style is completely different, but she gained knowledge of a new skill.
Pamela offers as advice to aspiring artists, “continue to take classes and learn, but also it’s important to find out who you are as an artist.” Following her own advice, she was at a three-day retreat, not instruction, just a group of artists at ACA, when she again wandered down an unknown path. For some time, she had had a vision in her mind of a girl under an umbrella in the rain, with an abstract background and a lot of paint. Abstraction had never been in her repertoire, but it continued to haunt her, until on the third day of the retreat, she used acrylic to get her vision on a 22” x 30” canvas. Back at The Hub in her studio, she began using a palette knife to add lots of paint, in oil. This piece took about eight months to sell, but for her next piece she had the idea of lovers under an umbrella. When three people tried to buy it while she was still painting it, Pamela realized that she was onto something and began er march down Umbrella Lane, where I discovered her and fell in love with her work. I remarked that walking in the rain at night does not evoke joy in my mind, while her paintings do. She responded that she thought people were drawn to these paintings because of the juxtaposition of the rainy night—which people associate more with sadness—with her bright, cheerful colors and the joyful lovers.
Although known as the “Umbrella Lady,” she continued to deviate somewhat, interspersing beach and figure paintings, and in the last couple of years she has again begun exploring a new trail. What I’m really interested in, right now, is whatever I paint, I’m trying to blur the line between realism and abstraction. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years– sunrises, sunsets—I was experimenting. They really were an attempt to become just a little more abstract. I don’t want to be an abstract painter; I’m always interested in the subject. I want the subject to be there clearly, somewhat clearly, but I want to use more abstract elements because for me, now, it is just more fun. At this point, I’ve done a lot of realism. I can paint the hell out of realism, “she laughed. “Being more loose, more expressive, it’s just more fun.”
In the meantime, our multi-faceted lady has launched a new eye-catching clothing line. Several people had asked if she had any garments with her umbrella paintings on them and she has delivered? It it’s taking more time than she imagined, but she said that it’s thrilling to see people wearing her art. (I suggest that you stop by her studio to see these items in a variety of different styles and prints; they are expressive and impressive!)
Pamela, of course, has not abandoned her love for literature. Dan Pels, some years ago, had begun a poetry night at The Hub. When he had to give it up, Pamela and Mary Jane Barenbaum eventually reinstated the event. Going on two years in its present iteration, it is quite successful. Along the same line, she is in the early process of putting together a book of her paintings and poetry.
Quite a journey, wouldn’t’ you agree? When I asked Pamela what advice she would give to. Her young self, she replied, “Trust the process. Trust the unfolding.” I am very glad that she trusted her muses and I am more than excited to follow my friend and teacher on whatever roads she takes next. I know the travels will be exceptional.