2023 We Will Be
 Celebrating Our
       36th Year

(Originally written by Lois Brown, Edited by Jean Lopez)

Formerly known as The California Poppy Chapter, however, chapter of what? We sounded like a garden club. We were a chapter of the National Society of Tole and Decorative Painters, in itself a mouthful. They changed their name and so did we.

The chapter was started in 1987 by Lois Brown, who owned The Art Store and taught tole painting, and Evelyn Swope, who came to San Luis Obispo from the Washington, D.C. chapter. It was Evelyn who knew how to get us started and it was Lois who had the students and customers who were interested in joining, so the chapter was soon in its formation stage. It takes two years to become a certified member of what is now the Society of Decorative Painters (SDP).

There were nine at the first meeting, sixteen at the second. Officers were appointed (since none of us knew what we were doing) and we set our meetings for the second Wednesday of each month at the condo where Lois lived. When Lois began to teach a Wednesday night class, the meetings changed to Thursday, where it stayed until June 2003, when it was voted to change the meetings to the first Saturday of the month.

In the early days we had a short business meeting and a demo at every meeting. We added a Saturday morning paint-in class once a month. Sometimes we would have only two people there to paint, but it grew as did our membership.  We began to do sale shows at the Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival, back when it only cost $25.00 a booth. These sales shows expanded over the years to the present Holiday Boutique and was held every year in October and moved to end of September in 2017.

Eventually we added the Traveling Exhibit, showing our work in all the local libraries. We began our Seminar Program. And we moved a lot. From the condo, where there was no parking, to a recreation place uptown San Luis Obispo, to the CPR place on Parker (nothing like having a skeleton in the classroom) to the church on James Way to where ever we could find to meet. We met at the United Methodist Church in Arroyo Grande for years, and then moved to the Exploration Station in Grover Beach, until they needed the space back, to the Sheriff Sub-Station in Oceano where we have held our meetings since September 2005.

Tole painting has changed from painting everything in oils to using acrylics, watercolor, pencils, pastels, and whatever they come up with next. In the early days there were only oils. We have Jo Sonja to thank for the acrylics. Had she not become allergic to oils we would probably still be using them and there would not be an entire industry devoted to acrylic paints.

As the chapter evolved, so did the materials, patterns, surfaces and techniques. In the beginning it was wood, and then came Sherry Nelson with her Reverse Glass painting. Then ceramic pieces and on it went, until we had the old army slogan, "if it stands still, paint it." And just think what may be in our future as we continue to grow and change. This is the primary reason for the chapter, to bring us into the future, even if we go kicking and screaming.

As of 2022 we have 59 members.
Website up and running January 2010
Holiday Boutique will be celebrating its 29th year in 2023
As of 2023 the Society of Decorative Painters (SDP)
dissolved and we became a stand alone club.