In 1969, the year the first man walked on the moon, I did my first painting. With much excitement I brought this painting ( a black cat on an orange background) 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. At the time, I didn’t know what I had created was abstract art and since my dad understood and 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, and 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 one-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 influences me to this day. 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 remember I liked art class. In my little town 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 feel 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 mom and 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.
It was my mom who encouraged me to be persistent with the things I wanted to do. She made it clear I had what it took to pursue whatever my dream was and that I didn’t need permission from anyone to do so. 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 creative track to Photography and Art was a Communications Media program.
The Print Shop
A couple of years later I married a man who owned a commercial print shop. At the time I felt I could learn more working in the real world and left college. In hindsight, I wish I had stayed in college, however 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 learned the essential graphic design tools quickly moving from paste-ups and galleys to personal computers and Quark Express. The printing industry had gone through massive changes and to keep up with the technology changes I learned new tools, software, and methods. The basis for my artwork today is built on those acquired graphic design skills and is congruent to all creative endeavors — color theory, balance, scale, content, and layout.
The 21st yEar
In 1990 our family moved South. My two beautiful, young daughters 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 elementary school soon and I would have time to pursue my own interests. But what was that? 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 being back in school. It became clear to me that the classes where I needed to draw, paint, and create 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 and what 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
In North Carolina a perfect home was found that would facilitate a healthy home life for the girls and have a garage studio for Sun & Moon Studio. 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 today.
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 more of a warrior. Tough times can help you look more deeply, see the detail, and gain new perspectives. In this time you tend your garden, replant, weed out, water, see what grows, and then repeat. Tough times require you to ask the hard questions and quietly, anxiously 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 the ancient philosophy of Ma’at, Wabi-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 often starts with quick marks or words. I have an ideas of where I want the work to go in terms of color and style. Then I let those first marks guide the painting into being. Yes, I’ve been here before. Sometimes marks are left exposed while others are covered up. I let my mind empty onto the surface. I choose to manifest “imperfect” so when when the unexpected, but invited, line or dribble shows up I embrace its magical intention.
I’ve been here before.