A little self-disclosure coming at ya. I have not always been an artist. It took me decades to know my own creative soul.
Recently I was attending my 25th high school reunion. (I know, how is that even possible!?) As often happens in this kind of situation when chatting with old friends the inevitable question arises…’What do you do?” As many of you will agree, we all “do” many things. But of course the question points to what do you do for a living. “Who” are you? Inwardly, I realized that 5 prior at the last reunion I may or may not have answered “I am an artist”. Today I do. Several classmates followed up their question inquiring if I had been an artist in high school. A couple classmates who were very creative asked, “I don’t think we had any art classes together”. They were right, we hadn’t. While I had always had a curiosity about art, I never took any art classes in high school or college.
As a kid I was fairly creative & always drawn to color, i.e. coloring with my favorite periwinkle crayon, but really didn’t stand out as a “creative”. I went through my high school and college years envying the art students on campus walking with their portfolios & supplies. While I was curious about what it was they did it never occurred to me to try it for my self. I didn’t even consider that I might have my own creative voice and instead dove deep into other interests in psychology and social work. After grad school (social work) I found myself being incredibly drawn to incorporating creative expression of emotions into my work with students. Creating “anger masks” for instance symbolizing the anger that masks our emotions that lie beneath. I began wishing I had become an art therapist but was already in deep as a school social worker with a very small child & husband in residency.
Then there was a year of my life when my husband and I moved to Strasbourg, France with our 2 young sons (ages 1 & 3). I knew I wanted to keep myself busy while we lived there (this was before the age of downloading all forms of entertainment!) and decided to pick up a simple sketch book and pencils. I had never taken an art class but began doodling, journaling and drawing still life’s. I loved the challenge but knew I had a great deal to learn. One day I took a solo day trip to Paris and brought my sketch book with me to the Louvre Museum. All on my own, surrounded by the art of masters with my sketch book. It was then that I felt something stir within me. It was the artist within saying “why not”?
I continued adding to my sketch book here and there after we moved back to the states and settled into life in Wisconsin. After staying home full-time, now with 3 sons (ages 5,3 & infant) it became undeniable that I needed a creative outlet aka. sanity saver! I began giving myself art lessons with an amazing artist, Deborah Meyer, “my dear art mama”. I can still see myself nursing my baby and standing at Deb’s art table playing with color. It was there that the artist within bloomed as Deb taught me how to explore various art mediums and how to understand fundamentals (composition, color, perspective). Ultimately, it was within her sacred space that I began to honor my creative voice. With each art lesson I realized I felt more alive when I was creating. With practice my art became my sanity saver, nourished my soul & begin a new way of walking in the world for me.
I truly believe that each of us has a creative soul just waiting to be explored, to be nurtured and to be honored. For me, I was in my 30’s before the artist within was ready to emerge. 10 years later and I know that I both lose myself and find myself each and every time I create. Honestly, sometimes I need to just pinch myself because I love it so very much…and that my friends is when you know you are right where you are suppose to be!
So, in October 2010 I was apart of an auction fundraiser. Long story short, a wonderful family bid and won that custom painting=portrait.
Winter came and they didn’t have a great photo reference. So we decided to wait until Spring and I would take some new photos. Spring came, and in May I ruptured a disk in my back. That set me back…. big time. The photos didn’t even happen until late summer after I recovered. Then I started the portrait. A couple paintings later, and with help from my mentor, Deb Meyer, who generously taught me some tricks… it finally came together and I love it. And more importantly the family does as well.