When I was a toddler, I colored inside the lines. I organized my crayons in color-wheel order. In early grade school, I made my own paper dolls and all their clothing. Then I started making cards, ornaments, and my own clothes. For open English and History assignments, I made drawings and paintings, favoring portraits even then. For my science project, I made a model of the eye. However, the only recognition I got was for being good at math. And I did like math.
I went off to Bucknell University as a math major, but my dreams of continuing on that track crashed after my father died in my freshman year. I kept going, but I really couldn't focus and nearly failed calculus. At that point, someone noticed my artwork. My professor in an art elective at the beginning of my sophomore year said, "You should be an art major!" I did just that, but I was the only art major there at the time. Bucknell was not an art school. I supplemented after graduation with a year at the School of Visual Arts in New York. But then I needed a job.
Fast forward through years of raising three children and running a graphic design business, followed by a professional career. Throughout those years, I sneaked in painting whenever I could, in spurts that were often years apart. Along the way, I took classes, participated in some shows, won a few awards, and sold paintings, both on commission and by consignment.
While I have studied several and appreciate many styles of art, when I create my own artwork, I have consistently had an eye for detail and been delighted by nuance. I find myself deeply engaged in the creative process, from vision through initial planning, the problem-solving and endless decision-making of execution, to final product. It feels like magic to coax color, light and shapes to create a sense of space, dimension and texture.
I resolved years ago that the reason I paint is because I love to do it. I see the world as full of beautiful things, and I love the process of expressing my visual enjoyment of life. When something captivates me, I want to share what pleases me about what I see. And I love the feel of oil paints. My connection with the materials is visceral. To some extent, I have Northern Renaissance sensibilities in that I love to paint the fine detail of what I see, and I go for exactitude. On the other hand, I also go for a poetic enhancement of the beauty I see. I aspire to take ordinary elements and make them evocative.
Working with traditional subject matter, I find that portraits, still life and landscape present me with both different and similar challenges. In all cases, I try to convey some of the inherent energy radiating from people, places and things. My approach is academic and intellectual, but my involvement with my work is emotional. I want my paintings to be accessible, cohesive and harmonious, with a cooperative relationship among the various elements. I know a piece is finished when it seems to come into focus and balance, and I no longer feel compelled to jump up to make yet another tweak.
I am recently ‘retired’, which means my new ‘job’ is painting. Halleluiah! Now I dream of things like mixing paint colors. And I waken to the opportunity of sharing part of my everyday life with the viewer. Sound exciting? I think so!