Being the 4th born out of 6 children, I had to find my own place. I was an older sister, and a younger sister, and had a penchant for utilizing any gray area in rules. (That usually resulted in more rules being created...lol.)
(The picture to the right is me holding my younger brother and standing next to me little sister in Kindergarten on Halloween. ---->)
I was myself entirely. I stood up for myself, as a younger sibling I had to regularly. And I kept my younger brother and sister safe, ready to do combat at any time, if necessary. (Even if said combat happened to be a verbal spar on the schoolyard playground, with a bully 3 times my size.)
I watched horror movies at friend's houses in elementary school, only to walk home alone at night, crossing my fingers hoping that my vivid imagination wouldn't summon real ghosts and monsters. (After all, scientists are still learning things, in my childish brain, that meant that there could be monsters.)
I fought the Royal India Company, as a Pirate on the Seven Seas. Warned Macbeth about the witches prediction, Slayed Vampires as Buffy, Saved Lives as a Surgeon, Torched villages as a Viking, successfully evaded Faerie Folk and prevented the Deaths that Banshees foretold. I explored the Jungle, Found a time machine and met the Anasazi and Fremont people, and found dinosaurs and ancient humans on an archaeological dig. (Of course, my mother was not happy about the 3 foot hole I had dug in our backyard to find them.)
The point is, I was unafraid, had a vivid imagination, had a sense of absurdity, and loved fiercely.
My art is an extension of that. I'm creating worlds with watercolor. Telling the untold stories that I have within my head, with others. Trying as hard as I can, to match the imagination that I've been blessed with. No matter how bad things are, I can always make myself laugh, and believe in unbelievable worlds. I've felt a kinship with all the people who were and never were.
My life has been fantastical in every way. I've been incredibly lucky to have to tools to keep myself happy, and to have 5 siblings that love and protect me. (Except from themselves, haha). And an incredible Dad that has sacrificed so much, to protect us.
I've been drawing longer than I remember, I don't remember the first time that I picked up a crayon, pen or pencil, it was too early on, and too routine to have been anything special.
However, while I've always been an artist, I didn't always know about them. Where I grew up, there weren't any artists (especially the type that did it for money). That isn't too say that no one expressed themselves creatively, I knew kids who took dance classes, and my own Grandmother painted post-retirement as an elementary school library based off of Bob Ross videos.
By the time I came around to the age that I could have appreciated museums (4-5 years old) my family had stopped going to museums, because it was too expensive to pay for 6 kids' admission. My first museum visit, outside of the Museum of Natural History (4th grade) was in 9th grade.
The first artist I had ever heard of was Van Gogh, in 5th grade. It was shortly after my tenth birthday. We were in someone else's class for the day, and in that same class session, I learned that Mr. Rogers had passed away, so the entire class was upset having grown up watching him. The teacher was trying to teach us the basics of art. (I learned the colors of the rainbow in her class as well as the acronym ROYGBIV, which at 10 years old, tells you how much our public school and district valued art.)
Not many kids were paying attention, due to the aforementioned death that we were all mourning. She was teaching us a trick to one point perspective (I don't think she called it that, just drawing in "3D" to make it look like it was an actual room in space. She realized that nothing useful was going to get done in that session and switched gears, telling us about another person, an artist who had died a long time ago.
This got a lot of kids' attention, for many of them, the only person they knew who had died were grandparents and for some, Mr. Rogers was the first person "they knew" who died. I actually remember her smirk, when she recaptured the attention, she ended up getting a teacher aide to go to the library and get an A/V cart so she could show us a video on this dead Artist. She told us about his ear, how people believed he ate his own paint and how he died tragically and no one cared about his art when he was alive (which is untrue, his brother Theo cared a lot.) But now everyone just wanted more Van Gogh paintings, that they were worth a lot of money. This was the first time that I had heard of art actually having monetary value.
I remember being memorized by the bright colors and the textures of his work on the VHS tape documentary that she played for us, I remember some of the adults who were talking about him, looking like they might cry when they got to the end of his life, I remember seeing a lot of his works that he created while he was in the asylum. I remember thinking how tragic it was that he created such beautiful works and no one cared until long after he had died. This was probably the first time that I had heard of being an Artist as a job, and thinking that he was so lucky, despite no one caring about his paintings that he was able to draw and paint all day long. And that one day, as my teacher waxed poetic about how thick the paint was on his paintings and how 3-dimensional it was in person, that I would see them in person. (Which I still haven't.)
Deep in my soul, it was like something had unraveled and broke free.
See, because my parents were struggling the whole time that I was growing up, financially, they had encouraged us from an incredibly young (at least in my case) to choose a well-paying profession, do well in school and probably get a scholarship to college. A choice I felt like I was running out of time to make, at 10 years old. My mother deeply encouraged us to choose to be a doctor, or a lawyer and of course we knew some scientists, because of my Dad's work in explosives and because my older brother was being studied by them at the University (which meant weekly visits and us running around campus and getting stopped by concerned adults about the group of loose children roaming the halls). So science was on the table as well. We knew about Archaeologists because the aforementioned oldest brother who was being studied, was obsessed with dinosaurs, and we had the Jurassic Park game on the Sega Genesis.
I had no concept of a working artist.
In fact, unbeknownst to me, my parents having seen my creative acuity (I remember entire days from sun up to sun down doing still life's of flowers in our yard with crayon before starting school) had a discussion that they were going to encourage me to do anything else. Because they didn't want me to grow up to be a starving artist.
They had been gently telling me when I would go to my Dad's desk to grab more printer paper to draw on, that "Go ahead and draw, have fun, but don't plan on getting money for it."
Which always confused me, but it was something weird that I didn't quite understand like what many adults would say through my childhood and I mostly ignored it and went to coloring, thinking that they were weird.
But, I had unknowingly internalized that message. From 4-23 years old, I was struggling to decide on a career that was anything but art, but preferably related to it. (I literally forgot wanting to be an Artist, it was so badly internalized.)
An Incomplete List of my "dream jobs" from):
Archaeologist like Indiana Jones in pre school;
a ballerina at 7 (which when my Dad took me to sign up for ballet classes and we couldn't afford it, made me realize that I'd never be a ballerina),
an ice skater,
dancer in general,
a writer (journalist, poet, advice columnist [thank you charmed] and author.)
Pirate (even though in my heart of hearts I knew the golden age of piracy was over.)
Marine Archaeologist (almost drown several times and was terrified of water)
An author that lived on the sea.
A Web designer at 10
An Architect (especially when we got sims1) until about 14 when I was in Geometry and learned to hate math..
Scientist (especially one that worked in the field and had to draw those beautiful lithographs from memory that were in all the science textbooks)
Teacher/Professor at College (possibly related to loving 3rd Rock from the sun)
A Film Director
An Art Teacher
Ice Cream Taste-Taster
Slush Pile Reader at publishing company or studio.
Coffee Shop owner/Book Store Owner
Working at the movie theater
Working at a video store (Darn redbox and Netflix ended this dream.)
Person who came up with ads (which I much later learned is an Advertising Executive.)
Running a homeless shelter
Running my own store (Candy or Books)
Running my own restaurant
Suffice to say, I really didn't know what I wanted to be when I "grew up".