As a small child, I was always creating. My first sewing project involved gathering scraps of solid and patterned material in pretty lavender and blue colors and sewing it together with hand stitches into the shape of my favorite animal, a horse. My Mom kept this horse, and as it was flat and could be stored easily, it would resurface on a regular basis – reminding us of my early days of creativity. I am grateful to my kindergarten teacher who told my parents that I had an artistic talent - I appreciate that someone from outside the family shared their observations with my Mom and Dad. What a boost of confidence!
I found that the woods behind our house gave me a place to let my mind expand, and to observe nature, the moving water in the creek, the birds and the animals. The time my family spent on the water really inspired my creativity, too - I made many paintings of sailboats and the ocean, like the one below. When I was a young teen, I would walk up the street to a neighbor’s house to take oil painting lessons each week. This experience was very helpful, it taught me to look at a painting, and to break it down into its parts.
In school, I took art classes and tried many different techniques and mediums. I carried a sketchbook around with me, making pencil sketches of dogs, horses, people on the ferry and the subway. But it was later, while I was living in the Florida Keys, that I took a perspective drawing class with a local artist where we would travel to the different islands drawing the vernacular, often run-down buildings, and I really began to understand my love for The Line, and for vernacular architecture. Local architecture tells so much about a place and its people – how they interact and create unique dwellings for themselves. Studying Matisse was tremendously influential as well - particularly his line drawings, like the one below. I practiced and created, and found that to draw with confidence takes great determination!
I began my college career believing that I wanted to study Veterinary Medicine, but quickly learned that what I really needed was to be in a more creative field. Once in the art department, I discovered that color theory was my favorite class. I studied fabric design, and while I took many weaving classes, it wasn’t until after I graduated (realizing there was much more to learn) and returned to take more surface design classes when I discovered hand painting on silk. I created geometric patterns, organic designs, florals, and – architecture! I loved the technique, I loved the designs, I loved the colors. We studied Japanese art, which influenced much of our work in with the Japanese aesthetic. We made kimonos, and jackets, and wrapping scarves.
In surface design, many techniques are used to lay color on silk – dipping, brushing, stenciling, etc. I personally became enamored with using the wax resist to draw LINES – to draw drawings and to create patterns and to fill them in with color. The immediacy of the process of hand-painted silk was one of the things that really attracted me to it. I saw my ideas come alive, I focused my designs on the lines, and I used the color theory that I loved during the creation of each piece.
I encourage others to believe in their creative insight and ability. Think about what you like to create, and what gives you great pleasure. Follow your instinct – there are opportunities to be creative every day!