People ask me when I knew that I wanted to be an artist. There really wasn’t one defining event. It was more of a series of moments some of which are clearer than others.
I remember being in 7th grade. I was the new kid in another new school. This was my first time in a parochial school. It was in Mrs. Keenan's art class that I fell hard for drawing. Our assignment was to copy images from Christmas cards. We were given soft pencils, off-white drawing paper and the torn off fronts of (mostly religious) cards. Maybe it was the quiet calmness of that class compared to the others that attracted me to drawing. Or it might have been the sense of losing track of time and being startled when the class was over. It was also probably the attention and praise from a good teacher.
But my love of art goes back much further than that 7th grade art class. I remember my first really big box of crayons. It was 96 perfectly pointy Crayola crayons with a built-in sharpener. I tried my hardest to keep that box orderly and all the points pristine. I remember coloring on white paper and wishing I could get a little more coverage.
I remember making little books out of stapled notebook paper. I wrote stories about a girl with a heart-shaped face topped with curls. I named her named Martha. The only title I can remember is “Martha Goes to Washington.” I don’t remember the story but I hope Martha was the president.
I remember making little heads out of clay. I drew cartoons and took an after-school class about comic strip design. I remember devouring children’s books about sewing and crafting. I never learned to sew well. I made clothes and furniture for my Barbies out of any kind of scraps fastening them with string, tape, paper clips and staples. I did easy crafts, like loop potholders, the crochet thing with the spool and latch hook rug kits. I tried embroidery (not good). I made a mess of spin art. I played with Lite-Brite.
As I moved into high school, I took every art class I could fit in including the more industrial ones like silk screen and offset printing. I also took regular college prep courses. When the time came to make plans for after graduation It was easy to decide on a major. I realized that from the big box of crayons to Mrs. Keenan’s art class that I had always wanted to be an artist.
As an artist giving myself permission to play is at the heart of my practice.
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