Well, I don’t paint the dogs, I paint pictures of dogs.
I was six or seven when I saw an advertisement for a drawing contest in the back of the TV guide. A cartoon-like sketch of a dog was the subject aspiring artists were encouraged to copy and then mail in for evaluation. The prize-perhaps it was a monetary award and/or the promise of entry into art school or maybe a lifetime supply of bubblegum! I don’t remember, but I was excited to have successfully copied the drawing. I showed my work to my ever encouraging big brother and he said, at the very least, I would receive a certificate. So, we mailed in my drawing.
I never heard from those contest people, not even to get a funky little certificate.
In the years following, whenever I came across a similar advertisement for an art contest I ignored it. Even when the cartoon-like dog was replaced by a horse, I simply turned the page …
Fortunately the contest experience didn’t squash my desire to draw. Drawing came so easily, I thought it was something everyone could do.
I went to school and became a graphic artist. I worked with printers designing custom invitations and business cards. I loved the challenge of creating illustrations that worked best in black and white and believed that the success of a logo design comes before adding color (I still do).
I had secret admiration for painters. Secret, because I didn’t understand the depth of my feelings. When I saw someone’s work or met someone who was a painter I’d think “that’s so cool”, but I never thought of it as something I could do. Graphite was my medium and I was okay with it. I didn’t recognize my own desire to paint until one summer about 15 years ago.
I was in a hotel lobby in St. Louis, Missouri reading an article about a computer graphic artist that grew to hate his career. “The computer robbed me”, he said, and I knew exactly what he meant. He chose to go back to something he once loved, painting. He changed directions, beginning a new career of hand painting signage on business fronts throughout St. Louis.
While reading that article, I was reminded of High School and my Home Economics class where I had to create a household budget based on a made up career. My career of choice was a sign painter.
I was inspired.
When I returned from that trip, I enrolled in a beginner painting class at an art school in Oakland. After a few semesters, I was encouraged by my instructor to join a small group of women who painted together on Friday mornings. I have been painting with these women, ever since.
I also paint cats, and people. Well, I don’t paint the cats …