The Mother Daughter Show: Art

My mother, Helen Burling Ottaway, was a prolific artist. She died in 2000 of ovarian cancer. Her art sat in her house until my only sister died in 2012 and my father in 2013. Now much of it is in storage and I have started showing it. When I started going through it, I found that not only had she saved her art back to high school, but she saved art by my sister and me. I found a portrait of her that I thought was rather good, but knew that it was not by her. Who did it? Oh. Me. I don’t remember doing it but there is my signature…

I saw a last minute plea for an artist at our local youth coffee house, The Boiler Room, for July of 2014. I replied and put up a show of my mother’s and my work: the first Mother Daughter Show. I had a second show in December of 2014, also at the Boiler Room. A third is scheduled for June and July.

My niece told me that she is enjoying drawing with charcoal recently. I have changed the pictures in my house and have a charcoal of my grandfather that I did hanging. I have a conte crayon of my grandmother that my mother did, and a self portrait that she did with three colors. I also have a drawing from 1980 with four colors of me playing flute and our friend Johnny Johnson on trumpet. He was trying to teach me to improvise: Lullaby of Birdland.

I want to put up photos of my mother’s etchings, watercolors, oils and pastels. And some of mine as well…..

This photo is of one of our ten joint print/poems. I wrote the poems and she did the etchings. A friend printed fifty of each poem on a lead type press and then my mother started running the etching editions, inking the plate individually for each one. The plate and the lead type both leave an impression in the paper. I am interested going to current art shows to see how many “prints” there are of original work — but those prints are reproductions, not etchings where each is an individual inking. I wrote about the etching process here.

Please contact me if you are interested in another Mother Daughter Show or any of the art.

Enjoy and thank you!

9 thoughts on “The Mother Daughter Show: Art

  1. jesh stg says:

    Actually came here today to see your Thurs. doors, and glanced at the side bar…Love that unexpected opportunity to show your and your mother’s art! Would love to see your mother’s etches! In my family I would be the “mom” and two of my grands are showing an interest in art, which is exciting to me.

  2. Roz Hill says:

    I find this all really interesting. The works of art, your passion for singing and your interest in folk music. I wanted to be a folk singer, regularly going to festivals quite a few years ago. I made a cd of my own songs too. Sadly I lost my voice and I always have too much going on ! Will keep in touch. πŸ’œπŸ’šπŸ’›β€οΈπŸ’™

    • drkottaway says:

      Hope your voice returns! I lost my speaking one but kept my singing one and had to do speech therapy — laryngeospasm.

  3. Meredith says:

    You have a fine heritage. I enjoy reading and viewing your and your mother’s art.

  4. Tony Waller says:

    Wow – How wonderful to find you. I own one of your mother’s etching and I have been trying to piece together a bio on her – the best I could come up with is as follows:

    Helen Burling Ottaway – Artist
    (1938 – 2000)

    Born: 31 May, 1938. Graduated and studied at Cornell (1961).

    For many years she was part of the artist stable at β€œGallery West” in Alexandria, VA. She regularly showed at this gallery and was most noted for her aquatint etchings and drawings. One of her most noted exhibits at Gallery West was entitled: An Occasional Pair of Claws, Fantasy Art. The exhibit was held Nov. 16 – Dec. 4, 1986.

    She also coordinated exhibits including a show at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, Washington, DC entitled: The Fictionist Concrete, a group show, 1986. And
    Ms. Ottaway was an art instructor, teaching printmaking at Delray Atelier, and drawing at such places as the Capitol Hill Art League/Capitol Hill Art Workshops in Washington, DC.

    Her botanical drawings can be found on the internet. She was married to Malcolm Ottaway and died of Ovarian Cancer in 2000.

    I would greatly appreciate your help – so I can use it for one of my upcoming blogs……

    Tony Waller (

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