The Moment I Knew I Was An Artist
Today, I want to tell my story. It’s long. But it is cathartic for me to do this today and I do have another reason. You’ll have to read the whole post to find that out. And since this is my “once every six months or so post”, I am sure you won’t mind. I was born in 1953. So yes, this makes me 64 years old as of this writing. (In my body anyway - the mind is still active somewhere in the 30s or perhaps the 20s.)
I was raised in a very strict, critical environment for the most part. Although not formally educated in the arts, I have been an artist my entire life. Details follow. However, the nurturing of this part of my genetic makeup hasn’t come from anyone except myself, my dear Aunt Cat who passed many years ago, a close friend or two and my wonderful, giving husband.
One of my earliest memories of being an artist was in the paintings and puzzles that my Aunt would supply me with as a young child. She gave me crayons, paper, coloring books, puzzles, and paint by number sets. She taught me how to knit, how to crochet, how to needlepoint - all things that she enjoyed. She also taught me how to bake. She herself was a wonderful artist in her native rural Kentucky home, painting signs, cows on mailboxes and doing all sorts of crafty things. She made birthday cakes that were beautifully and artistically decorated among her many talents. She crocheted incredible blankets and made quilts. She made many a dress or sweater for me and my children (although maybe there was a slight hiccup in the giddyup here - truthfully not always a fan). She was and always will be my greatest soul person. She is missed from the deepest depths of my heart.
In grade school, I remember a turquoise toothpick sculpture around 2nd or 3rd grade that I got a B+ on. Similar to the one in the picture.This put me over the moon. I adored that thing. I also made a stained glass apothecary jar for my mom one year and I still have it today. (We shall not speak of pack ratting.)
I always wanted dance lessons - my bff who lived across the street in my childhood days took ballet and I so wanted to join her. That didn’t happen so in my early 20’s, I sought out that passion and I became “Queen of Disco”. I danced 3-4 hours every night in clubs or at a dance studio, where I taught ballroom dancing for a brief bit. I even won a disco contest once! I still enjoy ballroom dancing to this day and had a ton of fun with hubby when we took lessons together for our wedding dance.
All through my young adult life, I found ways to create. Some of these activities brought income in trying times - such as gift baskets and dot painted sweatshirts. Others brought pure joy in seeing the reactions such as a hand sewn and embroidered christening gown for my dear friend’s baby or a knitted layette for another friend’s baby. Drawing with pencil, acrylic painting, repurposing furniture - you name it, I’ve been there. There is no form of creativity that escapes me.
Music has always been integral in my life. I love music of any kind, especially live music (And Steven T.. yes, Steven T. Classic Rock, Dude.). I attempted flute as a kid but just couldn’t get the hang of it. I took piano lessons in my 40’s and still attempt to play, although severe rust has crept in.
Practice would be good but… I digress
Song titles are how I title the art that I create today. I listen to the lyrics carefully and let the music and words guide my hands during creation or speak to my soul after the piece is created. Yes, I know that's not original. But they are intricately intertwined. I married a guitar player and am always delighted if he plays for me. (More please hun...) The marriage of visual art and music is as solid as our marriage as kindred soulmates.
I have had no formal training in art or, for that matter, in most areas of my life. I went back to school for computer programming at the age of 43 or so and spent the bulk of my career in technology - but even most of that was in self taught areas that were creative, such as designing custom legal software applications, creating WordPress websites and graphic design in Adobe Creative Suite. Art itself took a back seat for years. I dabbled, but it wasn't as intense as it is now. As I mentioned, if there’s a creative piece involved - I’m all in.
Which brings me to today. 3 years ago, I found a fabulous colored stain made by a beautifully inspiring creator with a child-like spirit that is contagious and whom you can’t help but love. Her stain is being used mostly for DIY projects but lately, it’s catching on as a full blown artist medium. Feel free to ask me about this…
Creating abstract art on wood is my greatest passion right now. I use my hands to move glorious color across the natural grain of birch, oak, aspen, poplar and more. It can’t be photographed to show its true beauty. It is so much more than a photograph.
It is ALIVE. It is COLOR. It is ME.
I am also still painting with alcohol ink on tile and yupo paper, acrylic paint, and starting to do a little figurative work here and there. As always, in art, for me, there are no limits and I love playing mad scientist by mixing mediums and textures and many times throwing in some “bling”.
I live in Wisconsin and I create out of joy and passion. I do sell my art. Mostly out of perceived need to supplement our income. This need comes from many years of struggle earlier in life that came from bad decisions, unfortunate traumas and being a single parent where every single cent was critical to the safety and nurturing of my children. I had to be fiercely independent and had to work hard and it’s just not a trait that ever goes away once you have experienced desperation like I once did.
That being said, I am always open to donating to worthy causes or giving something special to someone who would truly appreciate it. It is ALWAYS about the appreciation - whether it was paid for or not. My greatest joy comes from someone seeing one of my pieces from across the room and running to it exclaiming “I HAVE to have that! It’s PERFECT!”. I have experienced this first hand and there is no better feeling…
The antithesis to this is that there are times when I pour my heart and soul into some show or offering and walk away with barely a look. The child in me hears the “you’re not good enough” message and it can be devastating. I have experienced this more times than I care to admit. It sucks the creative flow right out of you…
Until that moment…
That moment that you realize you are an ARTIST.
That moment when you realize that you have waited ALL OF YOUR LIFE for this opportunity and that it is your gift from God to be shared with the world.
That moment when you realize that there is nothing that fulfills your soul more than being in that studio, listening to that glorious music and creating.
That moment when you realize there is no better therapy than ART.
That moment when all of those experiences you have loved your whole life - art, music and dancing - all come together into your own personal nirvana. (Did I mention that I dance while I paint?)
I create every day. It builds up. My house is overrun. I need to make way for new creations and the joys that I find in my beautiful “sunroom-a-studio” with the purple chair.
Tell me about someone who loves and adores art but just can’t afford it. Tell me about your favorite charity or organization that is holding a fundraiser and that you feel would truly benefit from the donation of one of my art pieces.
This, the joy of creating, the joy of giving, the joy of helping, is what it’s about. And this world could use a lot more joy these days.
One last thing.. please support local art and artists. It doesn’t always have to be with money. I found this great Instagram post that shows how.
Wishing you a joyous holiday season and a bright 2018 (because you KNOW my next post will be sometime next year, right??)