Born into a deeply dysfunctional southern family and abandoned by her mother at birth, Rawlings more or less raised herself, suffered through a kidnapping at age twelve, and underwent numerous additional isolating experiences. None the less, she became a self-reliant artist who survived untouched and intact rather than victimized. In 1959, Rawlings studied art in the classical tradition in Germany as well as Renaissance techniques in painting. Later in Italy, she embarked on master studies in tempera, fresco, Etruscan pottery and the lost wax method in jewelry. In 1969, she competed university studies in fine art and art history with minors in religion and Eastern philosophy. She also began exhibiting in galleries In 1972 she had her first one-person show and began exhibiting at the Virginia Miller galleries in Miami. A well-known artist whose paintings have been displayed in such places as the Miami Art Museum, Art Basel and the Louvre in Paris.