Ever since elementary school, with pencil in hand, whether a rainbow of colors or basic graphite, I've been drawing pictures. I know I was born to create. Looking back, I'm grateful to my elementary teachers who recognized my gifts and encouraged me. As a result, every assigned project I did was loaded with intricate illustrations in colored pencil, paint, and even the solar system in a sparkling array of dazzling glitter.
Since my Dad was a tailor, sewing became another outlet for my creativity. In 6th grade, a family member with an art supply store, recognized my talent and gave me my first set of oil paints and a how-to draw and paint book. He had no idea what new world would open up for me as I squeezed out tubes of luscious colors and immediately witnessed the effect of applying this creamy paint to the gripping canvas.
I was transported to my own quiet little world, which was totally dependent on the movement of my hand, from the concept of my mind, and the desire of my heart. A couple high school art classes helped me progress, but I could hardly wait to get to college to really study art and become a commercial artist.
I finished with a degree in Interior Design and Fine Arts from Eastern Michigan University, but because of a rude, cutting critique from the oil painting professor, I stopped painting. His harsh words and smearing blue and orange paint on a portrait of my little girls, shut me down from doing my art for 12 years. The other students in the class said, "Don't listen to him. He's jealous of your work."
A few years later, I also earned a Master's Degree in Clothing and Textiles. I designed and made clothes for 25 years, as well as a soft-sculptured praying baby doll. Somehow, sewing just did not satisfy the artist within me. The paintings that were locked up inside started screaming, "Let me out!"
I embarked on a journey of buying and renting art videos and magazines to learn anything I could from other artists. What colors do they use - what brands? How do they hold the brush, what's mixed into the paint, but most importantly, what it feels like to be an artist. The trapped paintings started pouring out.
In 2000, now in my 50's, I had the incredible, life-changing experience to study Flemish Realism oil painting, one on one with a master painter. In just 5 intense, 10-12 hour days, he transformed my work and my life. My Classical Realism portrait and still life career blossomed. A short time later I studied with a watercolor master to get my watercolors equally dramatic.
Quite by surprise, in 1999, a new creative outlet, not ever having been on my radar screen, emerged. I had the thought and desire to write and illustrate a children's book about charming Mackinac Island, located between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. It just amazes me, when a simple little thought like that, without any detail or experience to back it up, when acted upon, could launch a whole new career.
I now have 7 books and a card game published. To know my books are in the hands of a few thousand children and adults is wonderfully rewarding. It took me a while to get over the fact that so many people were excited to have my autograph.
Going through the writing and illustrating process, learning what I can from others, one step at a time is the key. In spite of all the obstacles of life, all the trials and setbacks, I keep pushing forward. Long dry spells are frustrating, but when breakthrough comes with my books or fine art, it's all the more appreciated and not taken for granted. It often leads to a greater level of creativity.
Have you ever thought about drawing or painting but just never did anything to make it happen? It's never too late to take a step out of your comfort zone.