About Southern Maryland Decorative Painters

Our Chapter’s story began in the fall of 1994 when the Chapter Organizer, Debbie Blair Williams, requested information from the Society of Decorative Painters (SDP) on forming a chapter.  At the time, Debbie taught beginner painting classes and asked her students if they would be interested in joining a painting chapter if it could be established.  The first organizational meeting was held in January 1995 with Debbie Williams, Debbie Gragan, Pat Aud, and Marty Quinn in attendance.  The second organization meeting was held in February 1995 with 35 participants in attendance, including Mary Corsaro, Lisa Crowe, LaDon Lay, Arlene Mauceri, Bernice McMann, Marty Quinn, Debbie Reece, and Debbie Blair Williams.

An application for the formation of a Chapter was submitted to SDP in March 1995. The goals of the Chapter on the application stated, “This chapter will support and promote the art of decorative painting.  We will educate our community about this ever changing field of art.  We will encourage artists of all ability levels to pursue decorative painting as a hobby or profession and will never discourage a beginner.  We will serve our community and our Society well.”  During this time, the Chapter was “led” by a Steering Committee which consisted of Debbie Blair Williams (Meeting Presider); Debbie Gragan (Meeting Minutes Recorder); Marty Quinn (Newsletter Editor), and Pat Aud (Other).

The Chapter voted to meet the first Saturday of each month at Charlotte Hall Library.  During that time the primary ways of communication were the Newsletter and a telephone tree (until it was superseded by e-mail in 2000).  A contest was held to identify a Chapter name and a vote was taken to identify the three top names to include the “Heart of Southern Maryland Decorative Painters” and “Tri-County Decorative Painters of Maryland”.  The name, Southern Maryland Decorative Painters (SMDP), was the top choice and in June 1995, after receiving approval from SDP, the Chapter membership formally adopted the name, SMDP.  The winners of the Chapter name contest were Barbara Czosek and Bonnie Kessler.  Subsequently a Chapter Logo contest was held and members voted on eight entries.  Marty Quinn won the contest with her entry of the blue crab; the same logo we use today.

Audrey Edelen served as the first nomination chair and the first SMDP Officers were elected in December 1995 and included: Debbie Blair Williams as President; Arlene Mauceri as 1st Vice President; Mary Corsaro as 2nd Vice President; Jean Mullins as Secretary; and, Lisa Crowe as Treasurer.  In addition, Marty Quinn served as the Newsletter Editor, Mary Corsaro as Membership Coordinator, and Joan Crown as Historian.  At the December meeting, members voted to pursue Chapter affiliation of SDP and the first raffle was held.  By the end of 1995, the Chapter had 32 members. 

SDP approved affiliation of SMDP in February 1996 and SMDP was presented as a new affiliate to SDP at the National Convention in May 1996.

There are several of our current/honorary members who were present during the first year of the Chapter’s existence and helped shape the Chapter from its “grass roots.”  These individuals are: Mary Corsaro, Lisa Crowe, Joan Crown, Audrey Edelen, LaDon Lay, Arlene Mauceri, Bernice McMann, Marty Quinn, Roberta Perry, Michelle Thacker, and Debbie Blair Williams.


Membership of the Chapter over the years has ranged from 32 to 63 members per year. While most of the meetings have been in the Charlotte Hall Library, there were times when the Library wasn’t available and the Chapter had to find another place to meet.  Recently the Library changed their scheduling policy and we will be meeting at The Immaculate Conception Church in Mechanicsville to maintain consistency in our meeting date of the 2nd Saturday of the month. During the earlier years, the Chapter met a number of different places including Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, Leonardtown Memorial Library, and Good Shepherd United Methodist Church (UMC) in Waldorf.  The Chapter has tried meeting on different Saturdays over the years to encourage maximum attendance.

Paint-Ins:  Debbie Williams led the first paint-in involving a basic marbelizing technique in April 1995.  Since that time, SMDP members and their guests have had the opportunity to participate in 187 paint-ins.  Most have been led by members of SMDP but some have been taught by guests from other Paint Chapters.

Seminars:  The first seminar hosted by the Chapter was the Delta Innovations Seminar with Diane Bantz in May 1997.  Over the years, SMDP has hosted 35 seminars with a variety of teachers such as: Lynne Andrews, Sharyn Binam, Bobbie Campbell, Margot Clark, Debbie Cotton, Lynn Deptula, Judy Diephouse, Debby Forshey, Carrie Graziano, Priscilla Hauser, Kelly Hoernig, Karen Hubbard, Roxanne Jarvis, JillyBean, Nancy Dale Kinney, Kathy Langdon, Arlene Linton, Leila Lundburg, Mary Owens, Rocky Pulchaski, Cheri Rol, Faith Rollins, Sandy Scales, Susan Stamilo, Brenda Stewart, Maxine Thomas, Phyllis Tillford, Mary Todd, Jean Watkins, and Debbie Blair Williams.  These seminars featured a wide range of techniques in acrylics, oils, colored pencil, and pen & ink.  Our seminars have been held at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, Good Shepherd UMC, Southern Maryland Association of Realtors in Hughesville, Ironsides Rescue Squad, Bed and Breakfast in Bryantown, and Holiday Inn Express (formerly Sleep Inn) in LaPlata.

Community Service Projects:  The Chapter has participated in numerous projects over the years to benefit the communities of Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s counties.  We donated paper products to a local women’s shelter; sewed and painted comfort caps (soft hats for women and children undergoing chemotherapy) which were donated to local hospitals; decorated rocks and donated money for the meditation garden at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home; donated craft books and painting magazines to local senior centers and nursing homes; donated food to local food pantries and baby items to a local crisis pregnancy program; painted memory boxes; painted plaques for the St. Mary’s County Red Cross to sell at their annual craft show; painted crab knockers for the Civista Hospital annual charity event; and painted a small trunk filled with hand painted ornaments to benefit Hospice of Charles County.  For 12 years, members painted ornaments and decorated a total of 15 trees to benefit Hospice of Charles County, Calvert County, and St. Mary’s County.  The biggest project the membership undertook during its 20 year history was when the Chapter worked with the Charles County Art Alliance in 2008 to paint 304 small carousel horses which were made into music boxes and sold to commemorate the Charles County 350th anniversary!

In addition to the local community, SMDP members donated money toward the SDP Decorative Arts Collection and painted items for various SDP benefits highlighted at National Conventions.  In 2007, the Chapter participated in the SDP-sponsored activity of painting treasure boxes for kids in Shriner Hospitals.

FundraisersThrough the leadership of the Ways and Means Committee, the Chapter raised money to pay operating costs and serve the community as described above.  Early in our Chapter’s existence, one of our members (who is a published designer and teacher) volunteered her services to teach a seminar as a Chapter fundraiser.  Throughout the years, the Chapter sold pizzas, soup, calendars, and crab pins; earned commission for selling Scharff brushes and painting magazine subscriptions; held monthly raffles, 50/50 raffles and silent auctions/special raffles featuring hand painted items; and, participated in at least 13 local craft shows.  Since 2009, one of the Chapter’s major fundraiser has been the chinese raffle at the annual Christmas party; funds earned are used to offset the cost of the ticket price for the party.

Promoting Decorative Painting
Throughout the years, the Chapter has been diligent about promoting decorative painting.  In the 1990’s members demonstrated decorative painting at the St. Mary’s, Charles, and Calvert County fairs.  The Chapter has hosted at least 7 “learn to paint” events, the most current was held in 2014.  At least half of those events were geared toward children.  One year, the Chapter held “buddy workshops” to help beginner painters paint ornaments for the trees being decorated and donated to Hospice.

In October 1999, the Chapter hosted the “Tole & Decorative Painting Art Exhibit” at Charlotte Hall Library to celebrate Decorative Painting Month.  Since 2003, the Chapter hosts an annual art show in the lobby of the Library where visitors can view the artwork painted by SMDP members and cast votes for their favorites.  Because of the number of people that view the artwork, we have sought assistance from the girl scouts, high school students (earning community service hours), and senior citizens to help hand out and collect ballots.  In addition, each October in honor of Decorative Painting Month, the Chapter showcases hand painted items in the Library display case.

In 2000, one of our members designed the SMDP website which continues to be updated to keep up with current technology. From 2004-2009, a member and her artwork was highlighted at each meeting as part of the “Artist Spotlight.” 

Fun and Fellowship:  Throughout the years, members participated in activities where their creativity and talent could be showcased (e.g., spring bonnet parade; fashion show; painted flower pot exchange; spring pin exchange) as well as gift exchanges where a member painted an item and then received a painted item. 

The Chapter hosted field trips to historic Occoquan, Virginia (1996), Stephs Art Studio in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (2004), and Rebecca Baer Studio in Hagerstown, MD (2013).

From 2004-2008, members were able to earn “crab chips” for participating in Chapter activities.  Crab chips were sort of like monopoly money with a crab on it.  Members could “spend” their crab chips at an auction of hand painted items during our annual Christmas party at the Library.  In 2009, we moved the Christmas party to the Jaycees and opened it up to guests and the auction became a fundraiser where people spent “real money”!


For the past 20 years, SMDP has been successful at meeting its goals through the creativity and hard work of many, many people.  It is clear to see that the true strength and vitality of the Chapter lies with its members who “step up” to assume leadership roles to guide the Chapter and members who actively participate in planning/conducting Chapter projects/activities.  In 2015, it is our responsibility, as SMDP members, to carry on the legacy that was started in 1995.  As we celebrate our 20th anniversary since the Chapter was formed in 1995, let’s vow to keep the “original flame” burning bright!

Prepared by: Roberta Perry (March 2015)
E-mail us at: president@SMDPaint.org or write us at
7815 Arborview Dr., Charlotte Hall, MD 20622-3031

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