Born in Paris, France to a family of artists, Muriel Eulich has always treasured and nurtured creativity—in herself and in others. As a trained art therapist, Muriel spent many years working in prisons, community centers, hospitals, and in private practice, and also taught at the college level. In recent years she has renewed her commitment to her own watercolor painting; as she works in her studio each day, she feels gratitude and joy for the chance to explore more deeply the beauty and mystery of the world around her, and the world within.

In her watercolors Muriel wants to capture the essence of the human spirit. From rugged cowboys, to indigenous peoples, to mothers and their children, Muriel seeks out the poignant beauty of faces, glances, moods. She has a special love of color, and is fascinated by the tension between colors. Characterized by an intensity of pigment unusual in watercolor, Muriel's work shimmers with vibrancy and vitality.

"It is art that makes life," wrote Henry James. Muriel's art reflects her intense love of life and creativity; she enjoys sharing her paintings, and hopes that they will enhance others' lives as much as they have her own.

"There's something so theatrical about how
cowboys transform themselves when they put on
their gear. This one was on horseback in a
4th of July parade in Aspen."

"I was knocked out by the impish energy of a girl at an Easter Seals camp in Colorado."

Muriel strives to depict the spirit of her subjects, using color, rather than images, in an abstract way. "I layer on paint to get the intensity that I want, so a single piece often takes weeks." She usually works from photos taken during her travels. "I shoot whatever catches my fancy, but for every three rolls of film, I'm lucky to get three pictures that really move me." What moves her? "Oh, little things, like the light in a subject's eye or a certain expression."

"Becky, who goes to high school with my daughter Madelaine, radiates life."

COOL MAY BE THE RULE, BUT MURIEL Eulich likes to break it.

  "The bored, blasé attitude that passes for cool never catches my eye," she says. "But when I see a face that glows with life, everything stops."

  An artist and traveler, Muriel is drawn to faces all over the world. "I love other cultures—the way people look and carry themselves, the subtle nuances in behavior that make them so distinctive. Yet once they come here, they become a vital part of the American landscape"—a landscape she explores with a series of watercolor paintings called Faces of America.

DAUGHTER OF A FRENCH MOTHER and an American father, Muriel came from a long line of painters, ceramicists, and silver designers. She was born in France, where her maternal grandparents, renowned artists, had a big studio on the grounds of their home.

  Her parents, who moved to suburb of Chicago when Muriel was 5, were thrilled when she showed signs of artistic talent. "But when it came time for college, they didn't encourage me to study studio art," she admits. "They knew it wasn't a secure way to earn a living."

  So although she took art classes in college, she majored in international studies, later earning a graduate degree in art therapy. Along the way, she married her husband, John, a printing industry executive. "He's always traveled a lot for his job, and I've been lucky enough to go with him most of the time." They have three children, Tim, 22, Whitney, 20, and Madelaine, 17.

  Her career has taken more twists and turns than a tube of paint. After a stint as a Montessori teacher, she worked as an art therapist for over 20 years. In 1981, the Eulichs moved to suburban St. Louis, Missouri, where Muriel taught college courses and directed the art therapy program at a university. At one point, "I decided to stop saving the world and save my own family, and put everything on hold to raise my kids." When they got older, she taught creative problem solving workshops for international executives. "Through it all, I doodled around, kept sketch books and visual journals," she says. "Finally, I realized that unless I did my own art, I wouldn't feel fulfilled."

  When she started painting full time, her travels and her years as an art therapist came in handy. "As a therapist, I'd learned to read body language, so I found myself speculating about people wherever I went and using that curiosity in my art."

  She started her Faces of America series in 1997, and it's still going strong. Working from photos taken during her trips, she sequesters herself in my so-called studio—a sleeping porch with no plumbing, but great light. I treat it like a real job: wake up, exercise to clear the cobwebs, paint, break for lunch, paint some more. I'm protective of my time—you have to be, if you want to get anything done."

  As she works, she often hears the voice of the old Japanese master who taught her the secrets of traditional ink painting during her college days. "Once, he broke a branch off a tree and said that I had to absorb its life through my eyes and transpose it through my brush to the paper," she says. "I've never forgotten it. That's what I try to do whenever I pick up a brush."