Artist prefers medium of china

The artist began her work while living in Poland.



YOUNGSTOWN — A winterscape on a teapot, tiny flowers on a cup and saucer, a young girl’s face peering out from a plate: All are examples of the works of a 90-year-old artist.

“I like to paint most anything,” said Park Vista Retirement Community resident Doris McWilliams.

Her work is done on china, especially china from Europe or Asia. She prefers the pure white over the ivory shades of what’s produced in the United States.

Her works decorate the walls, coffee and end tables in her Park Vista apartment.

Some pieces, like a necklace McWilliams wore on a recent afternoon, aren’t much bigger than a postage stamp.

She spends hours poring over each piece, ensuring she gets the colors and images just right.

Sometimes she uses a photograph as the inspiration for her work. Other times, the images come from her imagination.

She started her art in 1965 while living in Poland. “My sister’s mother-in-law used to paint on china, so I decided to try it, too,” McWilliams said.

She tried taking a class but didn’t share the instructor’s interpretation of colors. “She’d tell me that something was blue and it wasn’t blue,” McWilliams said.

Instead she followed instructions provided in books.

McWilliams used to sell her pieces and, occasionally, she still gets an order from a fellow Park Vista resident who wants to give a gift.

But a lot of her creations decorate her apartment and the homes of friends and relatives.

Each piece can take up to a year to finish. The works must be fired several times in between coats of paint to perfect the shades. Two small kilns in the spare bedroom of her apartment do the job.

McWilliams doesn’t have to worry about running out of items to paint. Blank canvasses of china pieces fill two cabinets in her home.

“I’d have to live to be 200 to paint on it all,” she chuckled.

The mother of three, grandmother of four and great-grandmother of four with a fifth on the way has lived all over the world including Brazil and Canada as well as different parts of the U.S., but she grew up on Youngstown’s South Side.

One of her grandchildren was killed in the war in Iraq last year.

After the death of her first husband in 1965, McWilliams worked as a printer at The Vindicator. She retired in 1984.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.