Ever since I can remember, I have always drawn, painted or otherwise tried to express my imagination through some form of aesthetic reality. Art has always been a part of me and always will be.
I am not a formally trained artist. When I was young and drawing, in the first attempts that we usually do — copying the art of others or sketching the lines of photographs — I never received much in the way of feedback or support. I took that as tacit response that I was no good at it. My dad “hrrumpfed” and went back to what he was doing. Art teachers in early school were overworked and passing time. I stopped focusing on that as a goal. To express the creative side of my self I went into the cosmetology business — and got stuck there for twenty years! In everything I did, I was always creating, however. I used to paint miniatures on clients fingernails; highly detailed works of their pets and many different things. I have painted something in most of the homes I lived in, and expressed my sensations of, and desire for color, light and form with craft and decoration. Through all of that I gained the sensibilities of art that I employ to this day. When cosmetology no longer answered my art expression needs, I decided to do murals. What the heck — go from painting the tiniest miniatures to full scale murals … why not?! I learned a lot about art while doing those murals. What constituted communication of a mood or expression, and what was merely craft.
I do become driven when I am in the middle of a piece, but if I had to state what drives me or propels me — well, I would have to say that my most outstanding inspiration has been love. OK … for the more pragmatic of my readers, let me qualify that as “affinity”. Most of what I have been able to create, when it has any impact at all, has been borne on the back of the immense degree of affinity that I have had for the person or persons that I was creating it for. Like this one mural that I did for a couple who were expecting their first child. She wanted simple little winged bears on the wall in the nursery, similar to ones that she had seen in a book that she liked. I told her that I was willing to copy those bears for her, but when I returned with my proposal sketch I had added one of my own making — a baby bear with immature wings and an eagerness to fly like the others. She loved the idea and so it was painted. But, what drove me to include that littlest of bears, when I had already made my bid and would earn not a penny more on it, was the story that the mother-to-be told me about the miracle that she carried. She and her husband had been trying for twenty years to have a child! There was more story and some tragedy involved, but I was moved by their bravery enough that I wanted to create something more.
Painting for children’s stories found me while I was doing murals in private homes. Most of them were very large. However, there was a small one in the kitchen of this one house; a mouse dad and his two sons draped on the range hood, bellies full and snoozing from too much pantry raiding. When I had finished the client said, “You know, that is just he kind of style that we are looking for in an illustrator …”. “Hmmm … drawing on paper”, I thought, “… now there’s an idea!”
So, whether it be a mural in a child’s room or the illustrations of a book, there was always someone that I was painting that for; someone whose delight I could imagine at the end of the work. Like making music, it has a degree less joy when there is no one singing along.
It is not merely that art expression is something special in me, but I feel that it is an intrinsic part of our humanity and that everyone has art in their nature. Wide expression takes training, but inherent capacity exists in everyone. I have gotten my training through doing, and I hope to be doing art for the rest of my life.