When did you first realize you were an artist?
I have always loved to create. I learned to sew and do needlework at a young age. I also enjoyed copying my father’s perfect printing and cartoon strips. My seventh grade teacher helped me with my first real painting, taking the time to teach me how to create textures and a good composition. I entered it in a local competition and won. I thought it was pretty cool that other people wanted to look at my painting. Since my high school didn’t offer any art classes, it wasn’t until I attended The University of Michigan that I was able to take my first drawing and painting classes. After graduating with a degree in English Literature, I studied art intensively at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA., where I learned more basics and immersed myself in developing my illustration skills. For me being an artist is about a craving to observe the world around me and communicate it to others. My art tells the stories that are important to me and expresses my values and ideas.
Could you tell us about your work?
Nature provides my primary inspiration. I am interested in the translation of the natural world into paint. I paint in a representational style because I love drawing and form, but I strive to allow the paint itself to tell part of the story. I love the three-dimensional quality of oil paint. It has so much possibility! Concepts for my paintings usually germinate over time. I take long walks in natural areas, and often what I observe becomes the seed of a painting. I enjoy painting subjects I know well, and am often inspired by the way light changes how we see.
What artists have influenced your work?
A lot of the art I saw growing up was in the wildlife tradition – artists like Robert Bateman and Bob Kuhn. At Michigan I took art history courses and learned about masters like Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Bouguereau. Other favorite artists include Henri Fantin LaTour and Abbott Thayer, Rosa Bonheur, Cecilia Beaux, all of the Wyeths, and the art of living artists Michael Klein and Jeremy Lipking. Recently, I attended a Fechin exhibit and was awe struck by his fabulous work. I enjoy discovering new artists, and love to read art books (my collection continues to expand).
What is your creative inspiration?
The natural world. I grew up on a ranch in northern California where wildlife was abundant and part of my daily life. I’ve since been fortunate to live in communities with natural areas where I walk to observe the wildlife.
What other interests do you have besides creating art?
I am a bird-watcher and when the weather here in Chicago is amenable, I am on the hunt for species I haven’t seen and to learn more about bird behaviors and habitat. I am also a gardener and enjoy learning about plants and creating outdoor spaces. I also enjoy decorating and creating memory books, and I love to read and travel.
What advice would you give to a new artist?
Get the best training possible, continue to take workshops and classes throughout your career to hone your skills, and expose yourself to new techniques and different ways of working. Paint and draw daily from life. Squint to see value. Listen to your instincts. They are usually right!
Could you give some advice about the business side of being an artist?
I think that networking with other artists in your community helps open doors and create opportunities to show work. I have a wonderful network of artist friends on Facebook, and this gives me a sense of community in my work. To help build relationships with galleries, it is valuable to enter national juried competitions to demonstrate your work is recognized by your peers. In addition, the ability to develop artistically, and produce a body of work for clients, competitions, and galleries requires a daily work schedule. No talent can make up for a lack of discipline and hard work.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
I plan to be painting from a country studio with high ceilings and north light, perhaps in northern Michigan where we have extended family and where I would also like to teach art.
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