Featured Artist Rita Curtis

Artist Rita Curtis offers a collection of bold, eye-catching oil paintings to brighten any room or mood. See more of her work by visiting her website.


Oil paining of a hibiscus flower

“Red Hibiscus” oil, 6″ x 6″


Color harmony and drama are the basis of my art. My palette leans toward warm yellows, oranges, and deep reds that are offset with a variety of blue violets.


Oil painting of a flower show

“Flower Show Competition” oil, 8″ x 10″


I like to paint figures that blend mysteriously into the background. Whose dramatic gesture and featureless face imply the story. Or flowers whose petals don’t quite get delineated. Overlapping palette knife shapes that barely suggest it’s a flower.


oil painting of a pansy

“Pansy Face” oil, 6″ x 8″


My paintings begin with a big brush and a colorful background wash. I never know how the finished work will look, even if I use a reference photo to stimulate an idea. My imagination takes charge, develops the idea, and completes the painting.


oil painting of kids rollerblading

“Rollerblading” oil, 8″ x 8″


My journey as an artist has never been straightforward. My mom called me a rebel, a tree-climbing tomboy whose bedroom was so messy, she barely noticed that I’d drawn murals on the walls. I was a daydreamer, yet also a hardworking newspaper delivery girl, an in-demand babysitter, even a lifeguard at the town pool.


Oil painting of sunflowers

“Big Leaves” oil, 36″ x 24″


Strong drawing and sewing skills got me into New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and a short career in clothing design. I escaped the fashion world by hitchhiking across Europe. At the University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy, I met intellectuals and artists from around the world. When my savings ran out, I returned home to major in English at New York University.


Oil painting still life

“A Sense of Flowers & Fruits” oil, 14″ x 11″


I supported myself through a series of editing jobs, but by this time, it had become clear that my future would be in art. With the help of scholarships I found great instructors at the Art Students League of New York. I also married, had two sons, and found time to sing with the New York Choral Society at Carnegie Hall.


landscape with walkers oil painting

“Promenade” oil, 11″ x 14″


The next leg of my journey was Baltimore and graduate school for my husband. I found nursery schools for the kids, met local artists, and sang with the Bach Society. As funds got short, I began a 20-year career at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where I edited research papers, illustrated manuals, and ran training programs in Africa and Asia. On the side, I sketched people wherever possible, and I began a series of small palette knife paintings inspired by people I met in developing countries.


oil painting of mums

“Wild Daisy Mums” oil, 12″ x 16″


By 2005 my sons were in graduate school, and I left Johns Hopkins to paint full time. I was elated when a painting of my son won a top award in a national competition.


oil paining of children wading

“Wading & Splashing” oil, 10″ x 8″


As the plein air painting movement swept the country, I took my gear outdoors. I won some nice awards for my landscapes, but I was surprised to find I preferred to paint the people around me more than the scenery.


oil painting of a young girl

“Sunshiny Abundance” oil, 12″ x 24″


Another surprise came when I was invited to teach still life at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland. Setting up flowers for the students, I discovered that I love to paint florals. Perhaps it’s the intermingling of vibrant colors with the ephemeral beauty of the blossoms.


Rita Curtis invites  you to follow her  on Facebook and Instagram.

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  1. Lissa Abrams says

    Beautiful paintings accompanied by a wonderful and enriching journey of life.

  2. Peggie Fariss says

    Rita, your gorgeous paintings take my breath away! Your colors are so vibrant and your brush & palette work is wonderful. Love the stories you’ve added to accompany your paintings and to tell us more about your journey through life and art.

  3. Cate Wilcox says

    Rita, so glad your path took you back to your love and talent. Working with you was a delight and highlight of my time at Hopkins. Hope our paths cross again soon. Cate

  4. Rita,
    I love your different paintings of flowers. They are very vibrant in color and realistic but loose at the same time.

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