In 2005, Adrian Chu Redmond's husband of 25 years, Michael Redmond, surprised her with a gift certificate for a month of art lessons at Braitman Studio in Matthews.
Later, Redmond, at age 47, started with charcoal figure drawing, moved on to acrylics, then tried oils. She was captivated by art.
Life got in the way, however, and after attending classes for a year, she took two years off to commit more time to her three teenage children: daughter Ally and sons Conor and Devin, who now are 20, 18 and 15, respectively.
"From childhood, I have been exposed to art through my mother, who is still an active artist today, at age 81," said Redmond, now 50, of her mother, Emma-Jean Chu. "She is my inspiration, she is an amazing person on and off the canvas. Her energy fills a room.
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"I could not have had a better role model for creativity and zest for life."
It took another gift certificate in 2008 for Redmond to pick up the paintbrush again, and things developed rapidly after that.
In December 2009, three of her paintings were chosen by Red Sky Gallery for a juried artist show. She received her first easel for Christmas that year from her husband.
On Oct. 3, Redmond, a former advertising executive in New York City, sold nine paintings during her one-woman show at Hacker Studio Gallery in Southend. More than 150 guests attended that showing, and due in part to that kind of success, Redmond has been a full-time artist since January 2010.
"I am inspired by nature, seeing the light references with the different colors and shadows. I like to challenge myself with photos taken of interesting settings, like food markets and rushing water. ... I have also been doing a few abstracts, and I enjoy placing colors together, creating some type of emotion for the viewer."
Redmond said she was drawn to oils immediately.
"I loved the consistency of the paint and the way you could brush it on to get the texture you wanted without it drying too fast," she said.
Redmond said she was hooked early, and often refers to her "obsession with painting as a hobby gone wild." .
Unfortunately, two people close to her probably can't fully appreciate Redmond's obsession: Her son Devin and her father are both colorblind, she said.
"I am always interested in what actual colors they are seeing. If I was colorblind, I think my life would be different only in my color choices.
"Shadows and light references are constant and texture is personal. My teacher likes us to pick photos without much color so we can be creative in our own color palate."
For Redmond, the challenge of painting contributes to her inspiration.
"I have no expectations about my artwork, so I can never disappoint myself. For me, it is all about the journey," she said.