My Artist Story: Childhood to 2022

My Artist Story: Childhood to 2022

For as long as I can remember, I have been around art. My Dad loved photography, and had albums full of pictures. My Mom loved to doodle. She used to draw the most magical doodled fairies, which I tried to recreate myself, with little success. But the thing is, watching my parents explore their own creativity, gave me the freedom, maybe too much at times, to be an artist. In Middle School I took an Art class, which inspired me to draw on my bedroom wall, paint inside my closet with bubble paint (eek!), and spray paint a moon on my bedroom door (double eek!-sorry mom). In High School, my Dad built me a bookshelf which I painted with scenes and colors inspired by my trip to Costa Rica. My Senior year, I was dual enrolled at the local community college, and the ONLY class I came back to take at my high school was my Career Art class. I was enamored with the fact that both of my Art Teachers still managed to practice as artists. While we were deep into our own works, they worked on their own commissioned works at their desks. It was magical. But that magic ended once I decided I actually wanted creativity to become a part of who I was in this world. After High School, it seemed there was always something blocking my creativity, and I'm not talking like writer's block, I'm talking real life obstacles, guiding me away from the path I believed I was destined to travel.

The first block was a person. A person that, at the time, I gave too much power to in making decisions about my life. A person that I thought would've wanted me to soar, but instead, clipped my wings. That person, was none other than my Dad. When I finally decided I wanted to pursue collegiate volleyball, I also needed to begin looking at degree options so that I could find schools which had both. At the time, I had wanted to pursue Interior Design. My Dad began talking me out of that degree path as he believed it was too niched (I am certain he used another word in 2004, but alas, here we are nich-ing everything in 2022), and also doubted that I would ever find a job as an Interior Designer. He recommended I broaden my degree into Business, with a focus on Marketing or Advertising, so I could still utilize my artistic gifts, but also be able to pay the bills when I graduated. Well, about a semester into Accounting and I knew that THAT side of a business degree was not AT ALL what I saw for myself in life. But here I was, stuck at a small school in Wheeling, WV, dominating in spring season volleyball, but failing classes left and right, and feeling stuck....well, that's probably not how I actually felt at the time as I was busy living it up socially, but you catch the drift. My first summer break in college I spent in Maryland with my Aunt and Uncle, who I barely knew at the time, but this was a ploy by my Dad to keep me away from my hometown, and avoid potentially getting back together with my high school sweetheart, who by the way, was a great guy, just apparently not who my Dad saw me with. Fast forward, and jokes on him, because I ended up marrying someone who he also did not see me with, but that's what happens when you try to control other people's lives with ill intentions.  ANYWHO, back to the original point of this story lol That first summer I started lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons at a great community pool in Maryland, while also working at a tourist shop in the evenings, AND retaking a few classes to stay eligible for volleyball in the fall (I told ya I was living it up!). It was that summer when my Aunt recognized my strength in connecting with kids, and suggested I go in to teaching. So, when I returned to school in the Fall, I began taking education courses. But while I was starting to figure out a path for myself, other things starting slipping, and I decided to transfer at the end of my Sophomore year. After two years of not working my creative muscles, I was ready to dive right in. I began as a Junior at Bowling Green State University, working towards a BFA in Arts Education. I was in heaven. I was back in the saddle of taking Art classes again, but also balancing the academic courses for my teaching degree. However, that bliss was soon met with the challenge of also having to be a working college student. Throughout my years at BGSU, I worked nearly full-time at Forever 21, coached High School AND Junior Olympic Volleyball, while also taking full course loads. My "free time" to get into the studio and experiment or take days to get lost in projects was not available to me, and some of my art professors penalized me for this. Did my creativity suffer during this period? Yes. But I also wasn't pursuing a career as an artist, so I just needed to get through. Finally in my (super) Senior  year, a photography professor suggested I find a way to blend my work with my art. I was now also student teaching full-time, adding another layer of complexity to my world. So, I started incorporating my students and athletes into my own work. I allowed the kids I was teaching to take photographs that I would use for my presentations in my class. I created open-ended photography opportunities, and it was amazing to see their artistic visions coming to life through my guidance. I began using my athletes as models for my photography, exploring the connections we form with others in specific times and spaces, but that those connections can disconnect at any time without emotional damage. And while that time period was extremely challenging, I find myself circling back to it today. After graduating college, I began my teaching career, and although I am surrounded my art 10 months out of the year, finding the time to create MY work, as opposed to teacher samples for students, became another obstacle. Add in 3 kids, and as many of you know, there aren't enough hours in the day. Throughout the years I had dabbled in card-making, photography, sewing, to name a few. But oddly, none of them kept me feeling inspired, some required me to be away from my family more than I already was, and none of them really gave me that creative zing. Until now. I have spent the last year and a half with scrambled egg brain, trying to figure out what it is that I want, and what my soul needs (which some of that is more than I can fit into one post). I finally started to prioritize my art appetite again. I started reading art-related books, and listening to podcasts, and drawing in the small minutes of the day. And then, it hit me, the DUH! moment, that I have been here before. The only way to do this, is to mix it all together, just like I had to when I was a practicing artist in college. I have finally started to piece together the ways in which I can incorporate my eye for capturing people, with my inspiration from artists such as Gustav Klimt and Bisa Butler, with being able to be at home with my family, while also bringing the emotions of motherhood into works of art. Do I have it all figured out? Heck no! Will I ever? Probably not. But, right now, in this moment, it feels good navigating this journey of being an artist, and I'm here for it.

If you too have lost your creative spark, whether it be dancing, singing, writing, skating, WHATEVER, I promise you, it can be found. People often tell us to stop looking back because we aren't going that way, but, I think that what's behind us has gotten us to where we are today. And maybe looking back isn't so bad after all, if it reminds us of lessons once lived, and who we are capable of becoming.




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