“The only true limitation is the one you set for yourself.” – Unknown
Spirit Guide, 2007, NFS
One question I'm often asked is 'How long have you been doing this?' and I never know how to answer that. I've been doing this since I was a child. But not like this, not exactly. So that's not the answer I usually give because I know the asker wants to know about my art now. But in all honesty, I have been making art and music since I was a tot and I have referenced my box of Crayola crayons in interviews many times because it was such a treasure to me. As for the real answer? Well, here it is:
After I dropped out of post secondary for music performance I moved back in with my parents on Rice Lake in Alderville. Once I was able to land a job and pay my own bills I rented a little house from the Band Council. That house is still there but it looks nothing like it did back then. Back then it was in the boonies surrounded by sumac. It was dark. There was no green mile. Anyone driving that way was either on their way home or on their way To Town. I drove it often at night, on my way home from my job, and most times I was the only car on the road.
I was still making music and in fact was playing more than ever and earning some money from it. But as rewarding as it is to perform it's also very stressful. I needed something to do for relaxation. This was when I mused to my Mom, who was still alive then, that maybe I should buy some paints. She immediately encouraged me to do so. You see, I had taken art classes all through high school in addition to my music classes. I wasn't a naturally gifted artist like some of my friends but I loved it. I loved the history, the architecture, and learning new techniques.
My very first "real" painting was of a yellow finch on masonite panel done in acrylic paint. I was proud of that painting and so I gave it to my Mom for Christmas that year as a teen. I continued to paint and although I never received stellar grades I took those classes because I really enjoyed them. As high school came to an end so did my painting. Not for any reason other than I was making music for hours a day and that's where my focus was.
Me, in Alderville
So, after college and moving back home, with my Mom's encouragement, I drove off to Curry's art store and bought my supplies. My house was small so I brought my easel outside onto the deck and painted there. The photo above is from that time.
I didn't know what to paint but I was living on the Rez and decided to try a quasi-Woodlands style as a way to begin. Pushing and blending that paint felt SO GOOD. It was meditative and internal. Like music, I could make something from nothing but there was absolutely no pressure involved. It was just for me. Eventually, family members handcrafted a giant easel for me (which I still have today) so that I could paint in the unfinished basement of my house all year long. As I continued painting I made the decision to stop imitating and begin to find my own style of mark making. If I was going to do this for me then it needed to come from me.
Transition, 2007, NFS
I never intended to sell my art. I never intended to have this as my profession. I fully intended to return to post secondary to pursue academia rather than the arts (something I still regret to this day). Life got in the way of that. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition during surgery and had years of illness; my cherished mother died suddenly, and I was in an abusive relationship. Let's face it, life happens and changes our course. That's ok because Creator had a plan for me that I wasn't aware of.
I kept painting for myself, for fun, for me. It got me through a terrible divorce, losing a child, and helped me find myself again. Somewhere along the way people asked to buy my paintings. So I began doing church basement art shows and farmer's markets then moved to outdoor art fairs, indoor art events, art galleries, magazines and podcasts. I'm not going to brag or list my accomplishments in this post because one of the 7 Grandfather Teachings is Dbaadendiziwin (humility). But I am proud of how I've grown as a self taught artist and I know there is much more to come. I feel like I'm just getting started - again.
I give you heartfelt thanks if you have stayed with me to the end of this rather long post.
I will keep you updated on my latest work and perhaps some insight into my creative process.