Art Makes the Soul Sing
Beverley Perdue fondly remembers one of her father’s favorite borrowed quotes, “Find your bliss and follow it.” Frank Perdue found happiness in his career, giving everything he had to build his family farm into one of the nation’s largest and best-known chicken producing companies. Knowing the joy that came from doing what he loved, Frank encouraged his children to find their own passions. Over the years, Bev discovered a love of art that would help shape her life.
Bev is now a distinguished watercolor and oil artist, receiving many national and international awards. However, she did not always see this as her future. As a child, Bev adopted art as a hobby and enjoyed drawing at her home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She took art classes in college, but earned a degree to become a physical education teacher specializing in modern dance. It was not until she had children of her own that she began to paint. She took more classes and loved the mentorship of being around other creative people. “I found the door to art and my soul sang,” says Bev.
Along the way, Bev found art to be a guidebook for life. “Picking up a paint brush is a lesson in decision-making,” she says. “Art is intuitive and you have to trust yourself.” It is also a lesson in competition. “Art brings with it many critics. You have to deal with rejection, learn from it and move on.”
Bev has used art to teach her own children critical thinking skills. After participating in an art workshop, she would ask them to select three favorites from her “plein air” (on location) paintings and explain their choices. “Raising children is like painting a canvas. You start with brush strokes and then let them add color and dimension to reflect their own experiences.” In tougher times, Bev found art to be an important, and sometimes therapeutic, means of self-expression. “If you are open to the emotion of your art form – whether painting, writing, dancing or acting – it validates what you are feeling.”
Like her father before her, Bev wants others to experience the same joy she has gained from pursuing her passion. Through the Franklin P. Perdue Fund at The Community Foundation, Bev supports the arts while her children give back to the causes they hold dear. Bev is particularly drawn to smaller arts organizations like Art 180. “Exposing young people to art allows them to find their unique talent by building on what is already there. It is a powerful discovery that can open a world of possibilities.”
Bev is married to Ed Jennings and lives in Midlothian. She has three children and three granddaughters, all of whom live in Richmond.