I am still surprised to find myself creating art. When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer but, when I look back at my work, it was always more about the drawing itself than the clothing. I went to school for a year for fashion design, but that didn’t last and I left drawing behind until 2013. I started drawing again, as many of us do, to process deeply painful and confusing experiences that defied my attempts to journal and write.
I continued making personal art and it wasn’t until early 2016 that I started to make some of my work public. People responded positively, I kept drawing, and things took off during the second half of 2016. Fast forward to now and I often have more ideas queued up than I can draw or paint at any one time.
As with most artists, my sketchbook is usually full of work in progress, especially line drawings waiting for me to decide whether I want to paint them. Drawings are the easier part, even the most intricate and complex feel effortless. Painting, for me, is where the emotion comes through, and is often the element that brings a series together.
Paintings usually begin with a line drawing (I like a combination of black markers, with a wide variety of thickness), but I don’t always start a drawing with the intention to add color. I scan all of the line drawings so I have a digital copy, even if I end up adding color.
I find painting thrilling – especially with watercolor – because it’s a collaboration with the medium and unexpected things happen. Adding color means the end product has a different impact than black and white lines, and resonates with people differently. It’s always a true pleasure to hear that people enjoy my work, that it resonates with them in some way.
But line drawing is my go-to and I always carry a sketchbook and pens. Sketching has become one of the ways I take notes and document events, conversations, and experience. I created a visual process method called Storyclouding™ using language, art, and color to explore our shared stories. That process grew out of using line drawings and words to process experience, then adding color to make an emotional connection.
Thinking of myself as an artist, especially a successful working artist, is entirely new. Some days, I feel like I’m just walking along and suddenly it jumps out at me – BAM – and I’m surprised all over again. But part of our responsibility as humans is to exercise and celebrate the gifts we are given, and that’s what I’m doing.
I don’t know if I’ve always had the talents and gifts of an artist, and I suppose it doesn’t entirely matter. I have them now and my life is ripe with that beauty.