In 1969, the year the first man walked on the moon, I did my first painting. With much excitement I brought this painting to my Dad (engineer, artist, and renaissance man) and I guess he didn’t know what to make of it. He nervously laughed it off and patted my head which I interpreted as “I had no talent in the painting department” so I shrugged it off and moved on. I didn’t know what I created was abstract art and since my dad valued realism it would take 21 more years before I could start to understand and call myself an artist. The experiences of smelling paint, seeing the art my Dad created, watching the process, going to the art supply store infused me with hidden receptacles that emerged when the time came. His influence is apparent in my love for the old-fashioned hardware store, the simple on-stop-shop for makers. And my studio contains boxes of supplies that he “had to have” much to the dismay of my budget minded Mother. His love of being outside in nature, either camping, hiking, skiing, or driving around town showed me a larger world that stays with me today. He was a Navy man, lifelong learner, self-taught linguistic, empath, and fan of doing things the right way with the best tools. His parting epitaph for me was the Egyptian concept and Goddess Ma’at — Living a life in accordance with the highest principles of justice, balance, and harmony keeping in mind one's neighbors and the earth one had been given to tend.
While in high school, I enjoyed art class. In those days art class was a very thin program and it mainly consisted of one class in drawing and one class in pottery. I took them both a couple of times. I enjoyed them, but it was difficult to be inspired or encouraged. It was probably my Dad who suggested I pick up his camera and try it out. I found myself drawn to photography and I became known as “the girl in school with the camera.” With this medium, realism was built-in. My dad fully supported this and helped me to build a darkroom in our basement. I shot mainly in black and white, developed the film, and made my own prints. All the wonder and boldness of being seventeen made everything seem possible. I studied at School of Modern Photography and started a freelance photography business. At the time, I thought my photographs would someday decorate walls around the world. I organized and curated my first one-woman show right after graduation. I wrote to Fred Picker inquiring about his Zone VI workshops and was accepted to Fitchburg State College, although the closest thing to Photography and Art was a Communications Media program, and all I knew was I wanted to learn more.
The Print Shop
A couple of years later I married. My partner owned a print shop and I felt I could learn more in the real world and left college. I spent many years in our family print shop learning the printing business and used my photography and artistic skills to help the business flourish. During this time, I quickly learned the essential graphic design tools moving from paste-ups and galleys to personal computers and Quark Express. The printing industry had gone through substantial changes and so had I. The basis for my artwork today is built on acquired graphic design skills congruent to all creative endeavors — color theory, balance, scale, content, and layout. My future as an Art Director was secure.
In 1990 our family moved South. I had two beautiful daughters and they were the love of my life and raising them was pure joy. Still, I felt a bit uncertain about who I was and what I should be doing for a career. The girls were going to start school soon and I would have time to pursue my life passion. But what was that passion? My dearest friend suggested that with my art, print, and business background interior design could be a great career for me. So I enrolled in school to find out. I really enjoyed school, but the art classes were the ones I really responded to. Although I didn’t finish the interior design schooling, the experience did bookend the moment when I realized who I was. The classwork and a note from my dad, that same year, that said “. . . The real artist was always you. Press on my love.” made it possible to unequivocally state “ I am an artist.” Soon after I started a business teaching art and creativity to children. Then we moved again.
SUn & Moon
Now in North Carolina a perfect home was found that would facilitate a healthy home life for my children and have a garage studio for Sun & Moon Studio. The studio, named for my girls, one of Sun and one of Moon, are always at the center of my life and have and will always be the best teachers in my life. While preparing instruction curriculum for my classes, I studied the art masters to bring the knowledge to my students. During this time some of my favorite artists: Adams, Klee, Matisse, Rothko, O’Keeffe, van Gogh became constant companions as I built my teaching curriculum around them. They, along with contemporary and emerging artists, influence my artwork to this day.
Radical change and uncertainty can spawn new growth given the right environment. Children leave the nest, husbands find new loves, parents die, and dear friends move on. In these times of unsettled change we have the best opportunity to reinvent ourselves. We can be seventeen again. Bold and fearless with an attitude of “I don’t have much to lose.” The years between 2002 and 2015 were my unsettled years and yet they also gave me time for becoming. Tough times tend to make you a warrior. Tough times make you look more deeply, see the detail, and gain perspective. This time allows you to tend your garden, replant, weed out, water, see what grows, and then repeat. Tough times require you to ask the hard questions and quietly listen for a reply.
In these years I found inspiration in the natural world: The symmetry of a flower; The asymmetry a tree branch; The patina of a worn wooden table; The rust on a weathered sign; The markings on such things as a Zebra or a Scotch Bonnet. I found inspiration in history and in the experiences of other people. I found inspiration and deep connection with ancient philosophy of Ma’at, Wab-Sabi, and Kintsugi.
The marks of time
The blank canvas doesn’t scare me. I’ve been here before. I can make a fearless mark. I can change direction. I can try something new. I’ve been here before. It doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact, quite the opposite.
My artwork starts with marks and words. I have vague ideas of where I want the work to go. Those first marks will guide the painting into being with some marks left exposed while others are covered up. I let my mind empty onto the surface and lose track of time. I manifest “imperfect” so when when the unexpected, but invited, line or dribble shows up I embrace its magical intention. I’ve been here before.