From time to time I get asked the question, "When did you know you wanted to become an artist?"Â My answer is always the same. 1st grade. I remember the moment of that decision too, believe it or not. Our class was assigned a project of deciding what we wanted to be when we grew up. Once we figured that out, we were to create a presentation about it. We could use magazine pictures, crayons, paste, and writing.Â Well, at six years old, I hadn't quite had my lifetime career figured out just yet, but I set to work nonetheless.
Flipping through the magazines I found a picture of a pretty lady dressed up as a nurse. So I cut her out and pasted her on my construction paper. Then around her I drew a hosipital with trees, massive butterflies, flowers, etc. In my best print I wrote, "I want to be a nurse".
When it came time to present my project to the class, I stood up there and held up my picture. My fellow students began oooh-ing and ahhh-ing. I hadn't really thought much of my project beyond the fact that I had loads of fun making it. But in that moment of appreciation from others I thought, hey, maybe I'm onto something here?
So my first desires about becoming an artist were based on the appreciation I received from others. But as the years have gone on, I have come to realize that while that kind of appreciation feels really wonderful, it is temporary if I am not at the same time appreciating my own experience as an artist. If you aren't letting yourself be guided by your own internal compass, you kind of feel like a leaf blowing around in the wind.
The art school that I attended has been consistently ranked among the top 10 or so art schools in the country. It is a great school and I learned a lot, butÂ the painting department leaned more towards abstract expressionism, pop,Â and conceptual paintings. ItÂ was not the place for me to freely explore my colorful landscapes. At least, rightly or wronglyÂ that was my perception at the time. Looking back now I am glad that I was exposed to the variety artforms and styles. But it wasn't until I got out of school that IÂ felt freeÂ to explore what would have been considered more traditional genres like landscape painting.
I am really enjoying landscape painting and I still get excited about learning new ways of seeing and executing that vision. And yet lately I have also started to get really excited about exploring abstractions too, without having any idea if it will lead anywhere at all. I am loving exploring both! It feels just as fun as when I was six drawing gigantic butterflies and flowers, and that feels like a pretty good vibe to me!