How I Became an Artist
How I Became an Artist or a very brief biography of how I came to be here now.
I love being alive and my entire adulthood has been devoted to inspiring others to love life too, whatever the circumstances. Grief can lead to grace; being scared can lead to the experience of the sacred; gratitude for everything changes everything; love, awe and wonder do work miracles. I rely on two things to make those transformations possible: the world around me and my creative response to it.
As an only child of unhappy parents living in the Philadelphia suburbs, I spent as much time as possible in my backyard. The wood just beyond my garden gate became an indispensable sanctuary. I hung out there with my dog, the trees, the sky, the birds, the bees, the small creek at the bottom of a hill and whoever else caught my attention. I found mystery and communion there, as well as a sense of loss and grief for the first peoples who used to call this their home. I experienced that compassion at a young age because in my wanderings, I found an abandoned cave with arrowheads and clay shards.
No surprise then that my own heart broke at the age of 12 when, with no warning, the entire woodland, my forested sanctuary, was clear cut while I was in school during the day. A part of me died that late afternoon as I faced the debacle behind my house.
But that death seared my bones with a lifelong passionate purpose: The well-being of everything matters to me. My own well-being is dependent on that because I’m connected to all of it.
Though I always wanted to be a visual artist, education, family, culture forced me to bury that dream so deeply that I literally forgot it for more than 20 years. I married soon after college, raised a family of four children, moved to Montana in 1980, and divorced soon thereafter. That move West catapulted me into a whole new way of being, but it still took a decade of serving as a psychotherapist in Missoula, MT, ( PhD in Human Development from Bryn Mawr College ), before I finally heeded my own advice. “Follow the wisdom of your belly.”
After having that epiphany, I left my psychotherapy practice, but life still took me on a circuitous path. I focused on becoming a writer/photographer, as well as a creative workshop facilitator in wild settings. I’d completely forgotten my dream of being an artist. But two years later the dream unexpectedly returned. Nestled at a table in a work space at Glacier Institute in Glacier National Park, I was co-facilitating a creative workshop called “A Touch of the Wild.” I served as the writing instructor while my friend, who was a professional watercolorist, taught painting. I sat in on her first painting session of the five day retreat. I chose colors for my palette and picked up a “loaded” brush for the first time in more than twenty years and touched the paper...In that moment, a lightning bolt of memory cracked me open forever to my true calling. The image following is called Flower Flaring Forth and it is the painting I did in Hazel's class in Glacier.
In November 1992, I left my Montana home and spent two months in solitude on an island in BC, Canada, to shed my identity as a psychotherapist and claim myself as an artist. I learned skills from How-to books and painted most of the day everyday. I found myself painting my visions for how life could be if we were living guided by the wisdom of our indigenous souls who know that everything around us vibrates, hums and surges with life, who know how to thrive in harmony with the web that holds us too.
The image pictured below is the first painting of my sojourn. I agonized over it! The blue, realistic face is based on a photo of my daughter. That wasn’t so hard to do ‘cause I learned as a teenager that I could copy stuff, but I couldn’t imagine how to paint all the animal eyes that make the shaman’s necklace above her. Luckily, like in a cartoon, something lit a lightbulb above my head! I could practice!... on a separate piece of paper. My exuberance over the idea of practicing was tantamount to astronomers discovering the existence of black holes, or something else equally amazing…I share that to encourage you who may be afraid to explore your own creativity, that there are many painting and drawing skills you can learn by practicing just as you would learn anything new. BUT you’ll never discover your own soul’s voice if you aren’t willing to experiment, to put pencil to paper, or sing when you think you can’t, or move your feet/knees/elbows and hands when you think you can’t dance…
Painting intuitively came naturally and made it easier for my imagination to illustrate the multiple layers of reality in which we live. Just as following my belly’s wisdom showed me the path of living with integrity, following what the painting tells me to do leads me to authentic images that often surprise me with their uniqueness. My ego is not in charge but rather in service to something bigger, more mysterious, more sacred. The flow of watercolor makes it easy for hand, paper, pigment and vision to dance.
I was devoted to watercolor for twenty years before I responded to the call of acrylics in 2012. The array of imagery in my greeting cards encompasses both media. Below are two examples. The first one is watercolor and the second is acrylic.
Enjoy browsing. Please know that I can produce reproductions of most images, some of the original acrylics are still available and I am happy to talk with you about commissions. And I provide a 10% discount on purchases of 8 cards or more as well as 10% discount on 5 books or more. I will be adding to my inventory at least every quarter,so please come back.
And a big THANK YOU for spending time here.