Thursday, October 1, 2015


The Frog, 7x12

A watercolor painter "of the darndest things", Jean Stull was also an ornithologist and environmentalist, living and working in Pennsylvania in the 20th century.  She is the featured artist for October, in my Woman Artist Series.  


Here are 10 things to know about Jean Stull, along with some of her paintings and images of Jean herself:

1.  Jean was a lifelong resident of Waterford, Pennsylvania.  She was born there in January of 1929, to Alfred & Georgia Himrod; and she died there in July of 2011, at the age of 82.

Ravine, 1968, 36 x 45, watercolor on tissue mounted on matboard

2.  A 1946 graduate of Waterford Joint High School, Jean Stull earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Edinburg State Teachers College, in 1949.  She did graduate work at Penn State University, and at Palomar College and Mira Costa College, both in southern California.  

Sanderlings, watercolor by Jean Stull

3.  Jean Stull was a talented watercolorist with a passion for nature.  In the 1960's, she began her career as a professional artist, rendering mainly in watercolors, her impressions of the natural world.  She gained inspiration not only from local sites, but from many travels she took throughout the US, including Alaska and the Pribilof Islands.  She visited Mexico, Belize, Kenya, and most of the Canadian provinces.

Jean never painted anything she hadn't seen herself.  She was a conservationist and watercolorist with a passion for nature.  Painting from personal experience, she made wonderful use of texture in her work.

Pre-Camrian/Shield, Diptych, 15x32, 15x17

4.  Jean taught art at Fort LeBoeuf High School in Waterford, retiring in 1985 after 31 years, while continuing her career in watercolor painting the entire time.  

Being a strong advocate of environmental stewardship and, she strove to draw these qualities from her students.  Throughout her tenure, she also mentored student teachers from Edinburg and Mercyhurst Colleges.

White Bird, 1969, 31x33

5.  With her husband, James Stull, she began in 1960, banding migrating birds on Presque Isle for the US Fish & Wildlife Service.  This continued for nearly 40 years.

Stull often wore an apron -- she would set the birds in its pockets as she sorted the bands.  If a child was there, she would ask if he wanted to release the bird.

Reference book for birders of Pennsylvania and the shores of Lake Erie, written by Jean Stull.
It was filled with many of her pen & ink sketches.

6.  Stull rarely worked on location and never searched for something to paint.  Rather, she would spend every spare hour, walking along the beach or in the woods and fields with her sketchbook.  She would record her thoughts and experiences in the form of notes and sketches.

She said that "although my subjects are ordinary -- a frog, a shell, an insect, a weed -- things looked at often but not really seen -- I feel there is more than just the physical side of a subject."

Fringed Gentians, 1966, 11x16

7. Jean Stull was a devoted environmentalist and conservationist.  She and her husband, James, organized the Presque Isle Nature Club in 1956.  The group, which was renamed the Presque Isle Audubon Society -- a chapter of the National Audubon Society in northwestern Pennsylvania -- now has more than 700 members, and is still a vital environmental organization.  

She was a spokesperson and strong advocate for environmental stewardship and against cruelty to animals of any kind.  

Hawk's Nest, 1973, 20x30

8.  Jean was truly a lover of nature and animals.  She was said to have had a soft heart for any creature in need.  

In her later work at Presque Isle, she would collect monarch butterflies.  They would land, exhausted, after crossing Lake Erie.  She would find them, completely soaked -- pick them up, put them on her shoulder, and carry them until they dried off.

9.  Stull painted intuitively, using only a few colors in each of her paintings.  The texture in her paintings came from wrinkled tissue paper, which she glued onto mat board or illustration board.

It seemed right, she said, that she should paint on a textured surface, since the natural world is textural in every aspect.

10.  Jean Stull is represented in numerous public and private collections throughout the United States, and was a member of the American Watercolor Society.

She exhibited widely throughout the country -- in at least nine cities -- received numerous awards, and had many solo shows.


  1. A beautiful woman in every way. Thank you for what you gave to the world.

  2. Sounds to me that she had her priorities straight! I only wish I could have met her. I know we would have been friends!!!

  3. My grandmother! I miss her every day.

    1. I have in my possession a canvas of the artists proof, of an owl on a stump signed by Jean and was given as a gift to a friend of mine who taught music in a college in PA. He died and this proof was going to end up at a yard sale, so I took it hoping someday to return it to family. And here you are. I would love to send it to you. I'm not asking for money. I'd just like to see it returned. Text me.

    2. I don't think my e-mail showed up. I am

  4. She was my HS art teacher. I loved her . What a talent.

  5. She was a HS art teacher as well

  6. She lived across the street from me. Her house was in the woods and was amazing. It blended in with the surroundings. She taught me a lot about nature when I was growing up. Her college was Edinboro, not Edinburgh. Great article. Thank you.

  7. My art teacher too. Such an I spiraling. Wish I had, had more time to learn from her! I learned the word Shmultzy for certain!

  8. My art teacher too. Such an inspiration. Wish I had, had more time to learn from her! I learned the word Shmultzy for certain!