Southwest Art


WHEN TERESA SAIA signed up for a calligraphy class at a Northern California community college, she was young and looking for something to add a sense of purpose to her quiet life. Previously she’d pursued sciences with a focus on forestry, but she knew that field would likely involve living in remote outposts, and she and her then-husband were settled near Santa Cruz. So she enrolled in language and business courses and studied calligraphy with a graphic designer. Little did she know that the graceful lettering she was learning to do in black and white would soon blow open a door to extraordinary color and an award-winning painting career.

It started with a casual statement from the calligraphy instructor near the end of the course. “For finals, you’ll make a book and illustrate it,” he said. Saia (pronounced ) remembers a moment of panic. “Wait, you didn’t tell us there was a prerequisite to be able to

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