I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing and coloring. My mom taught me to watercolor when I was five and my brother and I had Marathon Color Days with our raggedy box of crayons. But, art was not my first and only love …
My First Piano Concert
I took piano lessons from the time I was five, until I finished high school. I was pretty good and my dog loved my playing.
In spite of practicing many eight hour days, I realized that I wasn’t good enough to become a classical concert pianist. Also, I didn’t want to spend my life teaching and interpreting other people’s brilliant compositions. (Yeah, arrogant teenager.)
I was lucky enough to attend a school in the suburbs of Chicago that had a great art program – painting, drawing and ceramics – and a great young teacher, Luanne Forbes, who had just graduated from the School of the Art Institute. Between school, the Art Institute’s classes for Young Artists and forays with my friends to the halls of the Art Institute, I saw for the first time that art meant a lot more than a bunch of boring old religious paintings that all looked alike. (Arrogant Teenager rears her head again.)
One day, an artist came to my high school to give a talk about making a living as an artist. While she painted a picture, she explained how she made her living as an artist. This was also a revelation to me. I’d never thought about being an artist other than as a fun hobby.
After high school, I went on to get a degree in Painting, Drawing and Printmaking at the University of Florida. While at art school, I had two very different and excellent art teachers, Hiram Williams and Marcia Isaacson, who influenced me in two completely different directions. Hiram was of the Francis Bacon school of freaky art. Marcia, on the other hand, embraced the whole photo-realism stream and made wonderful and huge graphite drawings of antique photos.
During school, I painted realistic and photo-realistic paintings, but my paintings kept edging me to a more expressionistic style. While I was still in school, my Dad, who was the Vice President of Follett Publishing Company, arranged to publish several art books, including Fantastic Images, by Franz Schulze. Naturally, the vice-president’s daughter got an advance copy.
After graduation, I returned to Chicago and slowly abandoned photo-realism and embraced Chicago Imagist and expressionist works. I loved the obsessive, deviant images which let me run wild with clashing colors, dreams and nightmares and dark images of people.
With the help of another teacher, Eleanor Ferris, I put together a series of neo-expressionist paintings (See my Death Becomes Her and Beauty and the Beast paintings – links on the home page.)
Like many artists, I struggled over the years with thoughts about the purpose of art – why should I keep doing art? What good does it do anyone? Sure, it’s fun, but who needs it?
One day I was spinning through Google, searching for something about Vincent Van Gogh and looking at all the beautiful images. Before I clicked away, I saw a photograph taken at his grave. Someone had written a note of a piece of paper and left it on the headstone. It said “Thank You – Vincent.”
That note inspired me to appreciate how important painting is, even to people you may never know or meet.
I spent the next few months playing with colored pencils, learning new techniques that didn’t exist back in the days when I was ripping off album covers. (Or maybe they existed, but there was no internet so nobody knew about them.) For a while, I re-embraced photo-realism, but before long expressionist painting won out.
I recently started a project to illustrate and old and very scary book – Dracula. I hope you’ll enjoy the pictures.