Finally, An Artist
“Have you always been an artist?” Visitors often ask me this. My answer is “Well, yes…and no.”
I remember my mother laying on the floor with me and showing me how to color within the lines using my set of 64 Crayola crayons. To this day, I recall how Mom colored in little circles while I preferred to color back and forth in straight lines.
Kindergarten and grade school introduced me to crafts and drawing turkeys by outlining my hand. Even then, I enjoyed the “big picture”. I colored landscapes depicting sunny skies with clouds, fields, trees, and flowers. Mom arranged for my fifth-grade art teacher to provide drawing lessons before home room in the morning.
At the age of ten, I was introduced to oil paints. My mother took me to the local “Y” for eight early Saturday mornings where a teacher taught a small group of youngsters like me. I painted from a photo torn from National Geographic depicting a Panda bear sitting in a green field. I also painted from a calendar photo showing a beautiful monastery in Southern California.
At that point, I began to receive art supplies as birthday and holiday gifts. Mom would leave me in the art department when we went shopping. I’d read all the labels and touch everything, wondering how it should be used. I experimented with knives, brushes, colors, and mediums. I had no clue other than what knowledge the teacher at the “Y” had shared.
But I had been painting on my own at home. And I took every opportunity to observe the artists we all used to see painting and drawing in the middle of the malls. I was that annoying child who asked, “Where do you start to draw a face? Why do you start there?” For years, I believed that they must have been so relieved when Mom returned from shopping and herded me away.
(Now, I wonder about that because I am the teacher. I appreciate and enjoy the pleasure and excitement of my students. I understand their angst when learning a new technique or trying to make something look like SOMETHING.)
In middle and high school, I was able to choose art as an elective class. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I had the opportunity to again receive instruction in oils. It was only one semester of a studio-type class. We all worked independently with the teacher doing his best to offer time to all of us. Other classmates were much more advanced than I. So, I didn’t get a lot of attention.
After high school I was expected and encouraged to attend college – but not for art study. I never took another art course.
I graduated from college, married, had kids, followed a typical path.
We moved often and I still had art supplies purchased as a ten-year old. When my own children were in grade and middle school, I began to paint again with oils. In 2000, I created a verdant landscape depicting a scene in Vermont. “Vermont Summer” later became what I describe as my “heart piece”. I was and remain quite pleased with the result. I use the image on my business cards and other marketing tools. And I hope that one of my children will hang it in their home when I am gone from this world.
I went to grad school, but not for art.
It wasn’t until 2011 that I first showed my paintings publicly. I started to participate in outdoor art shows and indoor exhibits. I joined other artists to paint outdoors during group trips to the White Mountains and other scenic areas. I became a member in a couple of local art associations. I volunteered with the town art committee.
But I still didn’t consider myself an artist. After all, I had a “real” job in an office.
In 2014, the company where I was working declared bankruptcy and would close its doors.
I began to plot my course. The time had arrived. The business doors closed, and a new door opened to my artistic dream. I packed my car full of art supplies and spent the next three weeks in a beach condo painting whenever and for as long as I liked.
Upon returning, I offered my new creations at a street art fair in Ogunquit, Maine. After selling about 80% of my inventory that day, I felt validated…and maybe a little like an artist.
I worked at art galleries and painted and painted. I began to teach young students in my home. I have a talent for organization. I began to manage art shows.
My Dad passed suddenly in 2015. I spent that entire summer helping my mother acclimate to her new way of life. But I continued to paint.
I moved to Dover, New Hampshire in 2017 and for the first time began to pay rent for studio space.
In 2018, I opened SEH Studios in its current location. I have a large, airy, well-lit studio on the first floor of a beautiful mill building. I paint, teach, and exhibit there.
So, am I finally an artist?
I believe I was one all along.
What do you think? Please comment or reply with your opinion or experiences.