McNulty: Sykesville resident Judy Lettie rediscovered art after 20-year hiatus

Judy Lettie's pastel titled "Duck of Many Colors."
Judy Lettie's pastel titled "Duck of Many Colors." (Courtesy photo)

Judy Lettie is a local artist from Sykesville. Lettie has always been interested in art.

“I was one of those children who drew in class,” she said. “I drew horses as a young girl. Horses, horses, horses. I liked to draw any kind of animal.”


Lettie took basic art classes in school and her teacher recommended that she attend the Maryland Institute College of Art, but, unfortunately, she could not afford to go.

After she graduated, life got in the way, so art fell to the side. Over the years, she let the art of gardening fill her artistic needs while she had a job and was raising a family. Lettie did flower and vegetable gardening and planted many gardens around her home.

Nearly 20 years ago, Lettie wanted to learn to do china painting to decorate tiles for her kitchen and bathroom. She was successful and painted images of flowers on her tiles. Lettie studies china painting under Terri Koenig of Rosebud Studios.

Next, Lettie did china painting with pen. She produced scenes of Maryland on a set of dishes for eight. She used a set of white square china for her painted dinnerware.

About 15 years ago, Lettie was introduced to pastel pencils by a friend. Pastels are made from a combination of pigments, chalk and a binder. The pencils are hard and are good for drawing. Pastel pencils can be used as an undercoat for a soft pastel image.

Then Lettie started using soft pastels that are buttery in nature, creating an image that is more like paint.

The softer pastels lay down a brighter color than pastel pencils. Lettie was self-taught with books and used trial and error to get the best results. She used pastels as her primary media for years and preferred to do animal subjects as she had done as a child.

Three years ago, Lettie began to use acrylic paints. She dabbled in acrylics and water colors years ago but had never pursued them. Currently, she is working on small 4” x 6” and 5” x 7” acrylic mini paintings of the Carroll County countryside.

She is also painting images of the barns on the county barn quilt trail. Her series was shown and on sale at last month’s Art and Wine Festival in Sykesville. Lettie also participated in the Carroll County Arts Council “Art in the Park” event held in Westminster on June 2. At both shows she was exhibiting as part of the Sykesville Painting Club. Lettie also was a part of the Intergrace Fairhaven Show beginning May 9.

Lettie is also be exhibiting at the Members Show at the Carroll County Arts Center ( that runs through Aug. 3.

Her watercolors are mostly images of flowers and landscapes. “It is a learning process with the watercolors,” she said.

Currently, Lettie is experimenting with water color pens that produce a bright color.

“I like the idea of putting an image on the paper,” Lettie said. “When I am driving around or walking around I see the light on the trees that inspires me. I like to paint winter scenes with blues and pinks that come through the snow.”