As a good friend once said, “We must reinvent ourselves several times in order to maintain happiness and harmony.” I believe I have done that and I am presently working on self number five! Truly, I am a Louisiana girl living in a Colorado world with an “insatiable joie de vivre” as my linguist son Max would say.
While growing up southern, I enjoyed creating ANY kind of art, fishing with my dad and stepdad, scuba diving in the Gulf of Mexico with friends and many other outdoor sports - even becoming a tennis instructor while still attending high school. Early on, I learned that half the enjoyment of mastering a skill came from teaching that skill to others...as with tennis and of course art.
As a tomboy of sorts, I loved the outdoors but my most favorite pastime was coloring with new crayons, the smell of a coloring book and watching my aunt Chris draw and sketch. “Sit still so I can draw your portrait!” my aunt used to plead with me. But I wanted to be on the other end - drawing and capturing the images. By second grade, I was positive that someday I would become an artist!
In middle and high school, I enrolled in art classes and participated in art clubs as soon as they were made available. On weekends and summer break, I begged my mother to allow me to take part in any and every art class or workshop we could find. In addition to four years of art in high school, I enrolled in drafting classes too. My senior year, I was a paid survey draftsman for a large company and through my college years, I was a paid architectural draftsman for the campus architect.
I earned my bachelor of arts degree from McNeese State University in my hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana. My B.A. was in visual arts with a concentration in photography - during the dark ages of dark room technology. Mine was the five year college degree program, changing majors from drafting, architecture, interior design, fashion design, advertising design and finally focusing on photography. With many studio hours of drawing and painting under my belt, I wanted to do it ALL... but my parents wanted a diploma! Little did I know then, but each of these fields of study would add to my experience and proficiency as a professional artist.
Shortly after college, with the birth of my first son, I returned to college to gain my pre-k through 12th grade teaching license. Excitedly, I became an art teacher at a French Immersion Elementary School of Excellence in my hometown. I realized my love of art was being fulfilled through my role as a full time art teacher. Getting paid to create art with little kids was a dream come true! Though I taught art publicly for over 14 years and privately for over 24 years, at the end of the day, my own dire need to create artwork birthed forth the strangest and most unique art form.
Knowing I had little free time in my daily teaching schedule, I began late night life-size portraits in ink using one single continuous contour line from beginning to end without ever lifting my pen! This art form became an obsession of sorts - creating a permanent drawing through the use of ink and always completing the piece through the use of one single continuous contour line. These portraits usually commanded two or more hours to complete and to this day, my single line portrait of Frida Khalo and Jean-Michel Basquiat portrait prints are my best selling art pieces.
Being a part of a school district that embraced the arts and encouraged continuing education, I enrolled in as many art classes as possible while I was an elementary art teacher. Learning the art of drawing, painting, mosaics, fused glass, stained glass, ceramics, collage and computer-generated art...I just could not get enough!
With a change of scenery almost 15 years ago, my former husband and I moved our family from the wetlands of “Sportsman’s Paradise” in Louisiana to the “Rocky Mountain high” of Divide, Colorado. We purchased the historic century old Starbuck Ranch where we raised our four sons. In my unheard of spare time, I painted on large canvases, rode Arabian horses and became a sole proprietor Clydesdale breeder until 2011. During my ranching days, I did, however, rediscover photography through the advances and ease of digital media. I shot photos of wildlife, wild flowers, our wild kids and my clydesdale foals, mares and stallion as they ran like the wind through our 55 acres of paradise.
With life changes once again, my boys and I moved down the mountain and through Ute Pass to Colorado Springs. There we settled in the pristine neighborhood of the beautiful and famous Broadmoor Hotel. Simultaneously, social media was on the horizon and a friend commissioned me via the internet to paint my first two pet portraits in oil. Unbeknownst to me, I was to fulfill 55 commissions for pet portraits using referrals, my website www.artischeaperthantherapy.com, and facebook as my sole sources of advertising.
The last eight years have found me heavily immersed in teaching art to thousands of children in Colorado Springs. Since age 27, I have taught drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, mosaics, photography and many art history based projects. Being an amateur art historian, I enjoy the lives and artwork of Frida Kahlo, Joan Miro, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Marc Chagall and of course Pablo Picasso (for his mastery of many art mediums and our mutual inability to focus on just one art form).
As of summer 2018, I no longer teach art and may soon pursue a masters degree in art history. Most recently, I painted, gilded and jeweled several antler mounts which adorn and sell from the lobby of the historic Antlers Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs. From painting 5 foot tall fiberglass alligators and murals in Lake Charles’ Millennium park to painting and mosaicing aluminum butterflies for the Colorado Springs Rotary Club auction, I feel as though I have done it all.
Three years ago, I met the love of my life, a former Air Force fighter pilot turned commercial airlines captain, with whom I plan to travel the world. Now in my golden years and blessed with healthy grown sons, I no longer teach art but wholeheartedly embrace my new title of freelance professional fine artist.
In my home studio I am currently into pour painting, my own WILDlife series paintings, bedazzling antlers, zentangling and mosaicing mannequins ... and of course, more pet portraits. Life is indeed good!