STRATFORD, Conn. -- A Stratford math tutor and artist uses both the right and left sides of her brain as she pursues two vastly different careers.
"People are always surprised" to find out that the math whiz is also artistic, said Lorraine Hurley, a native of Rutherford, N.J.
Although she has no formal art training, the tutor soon found herself drawn to the creative side of working in chalky pastels.
Her medium is paper, and Hurley said she's often inspired by the images she sees in newspapers.
"Recently, I painted dancers from a [pullout] I took from the art section of The New York Times," she told Daily Voice.
Since ramping on her art business, Hurley has sold 20 of her paintings in three years. She frames the art and delivers it to her customers.
"Sometimes people choose a piece before it is framed," she said. Hurley jokingly refers to the sales as "off the easel" or "off the wall."
Her first sale of a painting came when she invited a few people into her "home" gallery for a tour.
"One couple bought four pieces that same day, three that were already framed on the wall and one in process on my easel," Hurley said.
"I have found it exciting to explain and show people my process. Many people have told. Me that they haven't seen any kind of art like mine."
The work fills the walls in her schoolhouse-style home in Stratford and was discovered exclusively through the local grapevine.
"People hear about me through word-of-mouth," said Hurley, who sold 15 paintings to one of her tutoring clients in Darien.
Her most memorable sale came when a family surprised a niece at a gathering with a painting that Hurley did of a girl's prom picture.
"My tutoring clients buy (the paintings) through word of mouth," she said.
When she's not at work at her easel, Hurley is at work as an instructor at Sylvan Learning and Technology Center in Darien and as a private tutor and standardized test prep teacher at Pear Tree Day School in Darien and The Life Solution Center of Darien.
Her interest in art began with drawing in childhood and remained a constant throughout her life. But it became more prolific in recent years, said Hurley.
"For a long time, I worked only in black and white, pencil and charcoal. I've had no formal training. I took a drawing class in New Haven when I first came to Connecticut," she said.
"I like pastels because I can correct and layer. I don't like paint. I never learned to use paints. People say my work has a primitive element to it. I think it's because I've had no formal training," Hurley added.
Some of her work includes portraits and landscapes for fundraisers, like a recent piece she donated to a family whose daughter had leukemia.
Other art has been donated to benefit school fundraisers or charity auctions.
In addition to her home studio and gallery, Hurley exhibits the artwork at The Life Solution Center in Darien and at Hair and Company in Norwalk.
"My first home studio was in Wooster Square, New Haven, in a converted 1800 carriage house. Funny that my studio gallery is now in a converted 1800 schoolhouse," she said. "My New Haven home I called the Off the Wall Art Gallery, and I now call my Stratford studio the Off the Wall Art Gallery at Ye Olde Schoolhouse."
Her goals include continuing to paint and to meet more people to talk about her work.
"I love it and want to share the good energy. A website would be helpful but I don't want it to distract from the purity of doing art as a passion," Hurley said.
For more information on Lorraine Hurley's art or tutoring services, email her at Lehurley@yahoo.com.