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Elsie Mistie Sterling: Pencil and Persistence


Elsie Mistie Sterling was born in Chicago and attended the Chicago Art Institute. She married Richard Sterling in 1928 and the family fortune was wiped out in the Great Depression. They bought two knapsacks; a 50 pound one for him and a 12 pound one for her and set out hoping to earn their living by Elsie’s portraits, sign painting, and restoration of ancestral paintings.

As they traveled, Elsie sketched the flowers found along the way and later added water-color, colored pencil, and ink to create the paintings you see here. Elsie returned to the plants when they were in seed so we get to see the flowers throughout their life cycle. There are over 400 botanical paintings in the Arts & Science Center collection and they give us a glimpse into the plants found in Arkansas in the early 1940s.

Elsie was an original member of the Council of Ozarks Artists and Craftsmen, Inc. a member organization that pioneered and promoted arts and crafts through fairs such as the Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair which began in 1951 and the War Eagle Fair which began in 1954. These fairs provided the underpinning for the crafts that are now ubiquitous throughout the Ozarks.

Sponsored by Relyance Bank