Artist Profile: Cori Dyson

Cori Dyson

3201 Springwood Dr
Jonesboro, AR 72404

Email the Artist



Cori Dyson has always had an artist eyes and heart, she just didn’t realize this until later in life. Once her true passion was revealed, she began to pursue her art career with fervor, dedication, and zeal. Dyson’s winding path to art has been, and continues to be, a grand adventure. Dyson was born at the old Magnolia Hospital and grew up on the land where her great-grandparents had farmed and raised a family on. She grew up surrounded by pastures, farm land, forests, two creeks and one tight-knit family. The rolling hills of forests in Southern Arkansas was the backdrop to her idyllic childhood. She spent most of her time outside playing with siblings, cousins, or going on solo adventures around her home. She experienced the world around her with the sensitivity of an artist. She viewed the trees surrounding her family’s cleared land as huge comforting arms holding and cradling their little piece of heaven. She loved the smell of fresh earth when her grandfather tilled the small garden he planted every year. She loved the smell and color of daffodils as they heralded spring every year. Dyson’s appreciation of the simple beauties around her was present from her earliest memories. She lived across the pasture from her grandparents and just across the road from a great aunt and uncle. Up the road was another great aunt and uncle and at the top of the road, cousins. In this beautiful and protected area, Dyson, her sisters, and cousins grew up. She spent countless days with her grandparents, running and skipping the well-worn path between her house and theirs. She could count on her grandmother, or Mimmie, to always have an apple or other snack for her. Her Grandfather, or Papa, was known to his grandchildren for his ‘funny tales’ which he made up for their entertainment. Dyson recalled, “I can still remember climbing up in Papa’s lap with my sister and eagerly awaiting the telling of another ‘funny tale’ about going hunting in the bottoms or eating ‘wolf brand chili’.” She learned to pick, shell, and blanche purple hull peas as well as how to make homemade biscuits and jelly. Dyson said, “My Mimmie taught me how to make homemade biscuits by how the dough felt at every stage of the process. I learned how to cook by learning texture and consistency instead of measuring.” Her simple origins and hard-working family taught her the joys of living simply, the deliciousness of home-cooked meals with home-grown ingredients, and the love of a family. She listened to stories about her ancestors long gone, the old ways, and the values of hard-working farmers. When she was around twelve years old, her parents divorced, and she moved to ‘town’. Though she only moved ten or so miles away, this was a much bigger change for her as living in the ‘city’ was much different than living in the country near relatives. She had to start looking out for cars and people, whereas before she only had to look out for snakes. “The first night we stayed ‘in town’, a next-door neighbor was playing music with a loud bass. My baby sister ran into our mother’s room and asked if the Indians were coming to get us. This reinforced for me just how sheltered our life had been.” Dyson went on to adapt to city living, but she retained her rural roots. She attended college at University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas. This is a small, private university nestled in the Ozarks. The campus, staff and faculty were more like a large family than an impersonal, expansive campus. She thrived in this small setting and discovered her life-long love of the Ozarks. The campus and the surrounding area bursts into gorgeous colors every fall, in a spectacular fashion, which made a distinct impression on her. The colors were more impressive than where she grew up in Southern Arkansas. She loved the mountains, the city of Clarksville, the Ozarks family, and the close proximity of so many natural areas near Clarksville. Her time at University of the Ozarks would stay with her throughout her life and, like a sirens song, call her back to the area later. Dyson moved to Little Rock to complete medical school at UAMS. This was a significant change for her, in large part, because she had only lived in small, rural towns and now she was living in the largest city of Arkansas. It didn’t take long for her to adjust and even thrive in the ‘big’ city. She had the good fortune to attend residency in Gainesville, Florida. During her first year, she spent at least one month on the gero-psych unit in Shands hospital. During that rotation, she rounded on the patients and participated in treatment team meeting in the morning then observed the patients in their activity therapy in the afternoon. One day, while the patients were painting during their group, she hung around in the doorway longer than usual. The activity therapist, Maggie, wisely invited her into the group room to join in the activity. Dyson joined in and the she can still remember the way the paint-filled brush felt as it graced the paper. This was her first experience painting. She purchased some paints, canvases, and brushes and began to paint on her own in her spare time. She painted a horse from a picture for her mom, and her mom pointed out that the horse had a dog-like head. While the criticism wasn’t unwarranted, being so early in her painting, she stopped painting for several years. With some encouragement and a gift certificate, she finally agreed to a local paint and sip class. She once again enjoyed the feeling of paint beneath the paint brush. The painting class sparked something deep inside her and she began to paint again. She started with Bob Ross kit and completed several paintings in this style. Soon she realized the Bob Ross style of painting would be something she could master in a matter of time. She didn’t want something easy to master, but something which would challenge her for the rest of her life. She knew upon that realization that this wasn’t some hobby, but something she was truly passionate about that. With this awareness, she switched gears and started over again with learning to paint. She began with a simple still life of a single apple. It was a turning point and the moment her focus, intention, and goal, completely changed about painting. When Dyson realized this painting would be more than a hobby, more than a stress reliever at the end of a hard day, she decided to get serious about her learning. She found Stefan Baumann on-line and decided to contact him about coaching. He agreed to coach her, despite her having had no previous training or experience in art. These weekly phone calls began in 2015 with painting exercises and weekly critiques. It seemed to start slow, but in time she began to see improvement. Her growth and commitment to learning steadily increased. Soon, she was painting daily and demonstrating competence with the medium. Dyson’s work blossomed with Baumann’s mixture of encouragement and challenge. She attended two of Baumann’s workshops in California as well as several Plein Air Convention and Expos (PACE). At PACE, she looked at this as several painting workshops rolled into one and learned from as many artists as she could while she was there. She was extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to have taken a drawing workshop with Mary Springer at Eureka Springs School of Art. During these workshops and coaching, she applied her love and knowledge of how to learn to learning painting. She read books, scientific studies, white papers, and anything she could get her hands on. Her focus centered on a traditional approach in both techniques and style. Dyson’s style was a slow evolution, but from the beginning has been based on how the oil paint feels on the end of the brush as she makes brush strokes. In focusing on the feeling of the paint on the end of the brush, this brings Dyson’s awareness to the moment and the brushstroke itself (a form of mindfulness). For her, this focus tends toward slightly thicker, richer brush strokes and a mindful and thoughtful approach to each brushstroke. With her main attention on the feel of the paint and the brush stroke, the painting seems to come together almost as if by magic. One of the main teaching and coaching points that Stefan Baumann focused on with Dyson, as with all his students, was the painting of effect of light. The two factors which have directed the growth of her technique more than anything else has been her focus on the feel of the paint and painting the effect of light. In 2018, her persistence began to pay off with being juried into several exhibitions: Women’s Works 31st Annual Exhibition, Artists of Northwest Arkansas 24th Annual Regional Art Exhibition, and culminating in a solo exhibition at Recovery Room in Jonesboro and acceptance into Oil Painters of America (OPA). In early 2020, she decided to make a change in her art and began working with Kelli Folsom, renowned still life artist. She began to focus primarily on still life subjects under Folsom's tutelage. Her artwork underwent an exponential growth spurt while working with Kelli. Currently, Dyson is a psychiatrist practicing in Jonesboro. It is definitely harder to carve out time to paint than someone who isn’t working full-time. This has only made her time to paint that much more important, appreciated, and protected. With less time to paint, she works hard to make that time as productive as possible. Even though her full-time job helps to focus her on painting when she has time to paint, she hopes to be able to take a step back from her role as a physician and to spend more time painting and creating. Dyson said, “I hope to one day be a recovering psychiatrist.” Cori chooses primarily nostalgic still life subjects reminiscent of times gone-by to remind her viewers of a simpler and slower time. She scours the local flea markets for vintage items which would have been found in rural households in the mid to late nineteenth century. By keeping her set ups straightforward and with an uncomplicated approach, her painting style mirrors the simplicity of the time period she is recreating in oils.