A quick hello and why I do what I do
Updated: Dec 27, 2022
I grew up in the sticks of rural Michigan in the 80s when parents were still trusting enough that climbing through old, abandoned barns, gathering wildflowers in the woods behind my house, and sitting in silence at the edges of a nearby wetland all by myself didn't freak anyone out as long as I was home by supper time. The youngest of four children, my sibling closest in age is a brother who is seven years older, so I was more often than not alone to explore and create and dream. I was curious by nature, finding friends in books and feral kittens and the occasional tree as I wandered my childhood world.
I attended Hillsdale College in the 90s receiving a Bachelor's degree in Fine Art while minoring in Literature. Being focused mainly on oil painting in college, I continued exploring different mediums, finally settling comfortably into ink, acrylic paint, and poetry. As was the case when I was a child, books and trees and all of nature continue to fascinate and inspire my work.
After taking much of the 2000s off to raise my two boys, I started to create in earnest again a little over 10 years ago, but it was not until my mother had a stroke in 2015 that my artistic style became finely honed into what it is today.
In the months that followed my mother's stroke she had regained the use of everything except her left hand, but there was a kind of blankness when she would look at me. As if she needed to pause and let the gears click into place. I was visiting her the following summer and it was raining lightly. I looked outside to search for a rainbow and seeing it bright in the sky over the neighbor’s barn, I urged my mother out of her chair and helped her outside to share this simple pleasure with her. My joy quickly evaporated as no matter how many times I pointed it out and tried to get her gaze to follow my hand she was completely indifferent, unable to enjoy this small thing that would have once given her so much pleasure. Thinking of all of the things she had once loved that were seemingly lost to her now planted a seed of fear deep in my heart. My mother and I had many similar interests, given to me through her loving patience as I grew. I often thought I was indeed walking in her footprints and now it felt like if I followed those steps long enough they would lead unerringly to the loss of all that I loved as well.
This moment changed me. I began noticing more – trying desperately to collect beautiful memories of the world surrounding me – fearing they would one day be beyond my enjoyment. Sitting at the Detroit River one morning, watching the sunrise over Canada, I drew a simple square in my notebook and began idly sketching in the paths of the birds swooping, spinning, and diving across the open sky. A couple weeks later, finding myself in the same place I sketched another flight pattern, a month later, another.
The birds entrance me. Their sometimes simple, sometimes obviously joyful, flight over the river is endlessly engaging to me and as unique as the color combinations I witness each morning I watch the rising of the sun. I never tire of this daily dance of light and line. The emotions pulled out of me, memories, words pressed to paper through ball point pen and translated to art through paint is my gift back to a world that I fear will forget to look, forget to stop and enjoy this fleeting moment in time. It is also a gift to myself; a reminder to pause and pause and pause once more to see and to marvel and to enjoy this beautiful gift of this day.