As you may or may not know I studied at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, CA for several years training to be a traditional Illustrator. But there came a time where I was feeling overwhelmed by the industry and what my teachers were telling me what it would take to make a living. I remember that I felt like I was always being pinned up to compete against my peers. Being told to look around classrooms and instead of encouraging us to learn and grow with each other, it was he's your competition, she's your competition etc. Also that we should be schmoozing at every art gallery opening we could go to; which is so not me. At the same time digital art was in the midst of its giant boom. I felt like there was no room in the world for someone like me who enjoyed drawing with charcoal pencils. It just left a bad taste in my mouth and kind of took away the joy of making art. Which for me was the reason why I did it, to make others and myself smile.
So I took nearly a 13 year hiatus from my art, barely picking up a pencil to just do a doodle and decided to learn more about my other passion. Gardening.
Collecting violets to be used in salads and other summery dishes.
Being out in the midst of the fauna and flora has always been a happy place for me. I have been quite the staunch environmentalist from a very young age. Once I protested at my grade school cafeteria until they started a recycling program. But what I cherished the most about learning how to garden was spending more quality time with one of my heroes in life, my grandpa. Horticulture ran in the family, his father and uncle being a well known rose breeders, even winning an award at the Annual Spring Exhibition for "Display Spring Flowers" from The Chicago Horticultural Society. After that they were invited to show at the World's Colombian Exposition in 1893 . I was gifted some of these very special heirlooms that I will cherish as long as I live. The pictures in this Glimpses of the World's Fair book are stunning and so interesting to look at.
The backside of the award from the The Horticultural Society of Chicago to the Hunt Brothers.
Front of the award from the Horticultural Society of Chicago and the book of Glimpses of the World from the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.
The building the Hunt Brothers would have been showing their roses in the World's Columbus Exposition in Chicago 1893.
Gardening was my safety blanket for a LONG 13 something years. I didn't have to face people. I could literally hide in bushes and be in this "world" by myself amongst the bees, birds and flowers. This was home for me, I felt confident in myself that this is where I belonged. Until some big moves and changes started shaping what was going to be our next chapter.
After 16 years of life in San Francisco my husband and I decided to move. It was a very hard decision because:
1. This is where we met and fell in love.
2. We had essentially matured into more "adult-like folks" here. (Our home away from home)
3. There was an incredible core of wonderful friends and my sister living in the city/east bay.
4. We were starting to feel a little cramped in our tiny apartment.
5. The realization that we would never be able to afford a home in the Bay area.
6. Losing our first dog together of 12 years to cancer.
7. But most importantly my work as a horticulturist was rooted here. I was a City gardener for a couple years and that truly was the pinnacle of my career. Serving the people of San Francisco beautifying the grounds of SF General hospital and providing food we grew on campus to those in need in the community.
There was no doubt about it, this move was inevitable. My husband found a new job in western Sonoma County and we jumped on the opportunity! It started out exciting and it was great that we were still not too far from the City where people and family could still visit on the weekends. Then life showed up in a BIG way. In the course of the 4 years we lived in Sonoma county I had a harsh realization that nearly sent me to the hospital a couple times. Being under the lovely foggy blanket in SF all these years I had no idea that I was crazy heat sensitive. So you can imagine what life as gardener was for me in our new home. It. Was. Miserable. I didn't ever want to leave the safety of our cave-like 1940s vacation cabin to face the heat of the sun. I even got physically ill a couple times, my stomach upset and my head spinning making me incapacitated. I became depressed shortly after this. I didn't know what to do with myself, all I had known for over a decade now was living and breathing all things plants. It was my joy, my livelihood. Without this thing that not only brought me financial stability, self confidence and made me feel productive, I was adrift. The following year I lost my father all of a sudden and this just sent me spiraling deeper.
In disparity I started googling about art and artists, wondering if I could delve back into something that I was terrified of so many years ago. Would I even to be able to draw as I did when I was in art school? Am I too old to start a new career? Could catch up with all the new technology today(Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop) that I had such a problem with in the past? I was so determined to pull myself out of the funk I was in, I pushed all these negative thoughts to the side. I had known myself to be a genuinely happy person. So crying, and feeling ashamed all the time was even upsetting me more. Thank goodness for the love of my life, my husband and stumbling on a blog that helped me rise out of the deep hole I was in. I wish I could credit this blog but I simply cannot remember. Well anyhoo, in this artist's blog she mentioned she had taken this online art course by Lilla Rogers Studio called Make Art That Sells.
I was sold right off the bat with Lilla's positive energy alone. It was meant to be for sure! I not only soaked up all the information she put into her classes but her uplifting advise and videos acted as a therapy for me.
I started with the MATS A class that gave me a little taste of several genres of art like children's books to home decor. It was perfect and I can't be thankful enough to my husband for buying these courses for me in my great time of need.
My first assignment for Surface Pattern Design part of the course.
On top of that we knew another change was needed whether we liked it or not. My husband being from Alaska originally was not a fan of the heat himself. Neither was our new addition to the family a great pyrenees pup of 120lbs. So we fully had to rip the bandaid off and move far away from everything we had known. We made the leap moving to a small town on the Olympic Peninsula in WA state that we had visited for a day and a half back in 2007. It was terrifying to say the least! To not even be within a few hours car ride from family and friends was devastating but I knew my life living as a hermit locked up in my house for most of the year was no way to be.
I now have been in Port Townsend, this magical victorian town on the Salish Sea for over a year and I finally feel like myself again. Happy, hopeful and gardening!! But what those 4 dark years in Sonoma did for me was put me back on the path to art. Though it was a rough road, I am thankful for it. I have committed myself to my art and look forward to it blossoming into a fully fledged career so I can support my family.
Officially 4 1/2 years now since I've picked up my pencil again and I have seen my style change quite a bit. I have not figured out completely what I would like to do with my art but I am learning along the way what I'm drawn to (pun intended)and what I am not. All I know is that right now this feels like my path, so I'm going to see where it takes me.
I haven't blogged in quite a while, and I am likening it to journaling for me. To help me process my thoughts and emotions through this adventure but also something I can reflect back on to remember where I came from. So I hope you find this interesting or if someone reading this feeling like I did a couple years ago finds this helpful, that's what matters most. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Trust yourself and know that things will change. I know that sounds cliche but I'm so glad I listened to my heart and took the leap of faith.
Someone posted something the other day that made me think of this transition in my life and I'd like to share it. Unfortunately there is no one to credit for this wonderful sentiment. But I thought it spoke about the dark time I was in and looking back now it all makes sense.
Thanks for reading, I'd like to give some insight as who I am as a person in these blogs and share my artistic journey. Hope you'll join me.