Becoming an Artist by Accident

I am not one of those people who always knew they wanted to be an artist and make art.

When I was a child, my primary form of self-expression was music, playing the piano and organ. As I grew into a teen, one musical activity led to another, and I was a busy kid, accompanying choirs, taking lessons, teaching lessons, and working as a church organist. I expected that music would continue to take a leading role throughout my life. “ART” wasn’t on my radar.

With my beloved piano teacher, Lanie Davis – about 16 years old here. Music was everything.

I do vividly remember making art as a child and I can see that it was always there:

  • Drawing a nativity scene in a new big sketchpad. Grandma T told me later that I started on one side of the page and drew across to the other side. It’s a Gahanna memory, so I’m going to guess I was 8 or 9 years old.
  • Going to art workshops on Saturday mornings at OSU – riding with the Langkamps. I hated the group ride with boys that teased, but I remember liking the workshops. What did we do? Maybe pottery?
  • I always liked art class in school, but never had the opportunity to take art beyond the 8th grade. I did take 2 years of home ec in high school, which did give me some opportunities for art projects – sewing.
  • I often had a needlework project underway from about 12 years old on. My earliest projects were kits – hooked rugs, crewel embroidery, then eventually cross-stitch, which I pursued through college and into my early married years with Matt.
  • I enjoyed creative writing, and pursued every opportunity I had. That led to journalism classes in high school and 2 years on the yearbook staff, where I got my first taste of graphic design.
  • My mom and I shared a love for fashion, so there was a lot of creativity in making outfits. We talked a lot about color and what “went together”. I learned a lot about proportion.

On my dad’s side of the family, I was exposed to many working artists, though they didn’t think of themselves that way. They were “makers”—Grandma made quilts and costumes, Grandpa built cabinets as a master woodworker. Though my dad worked a traditional office job, he always kept a shop in the garage, where he worked wood into furniture, repaired antiques, and did his best thinking.

Hashing out something of great importance with my dad, in his shop. I’m wearing his AYO softball championship varsity jacket. Daddy’s girl.

Now, I know how lucky I was to have been surrounded by creative people. My “normal” included having creative projects going on the side…didn’t everybody?

From my current vantage point at almost 56, I can see how these “side projects” can carry you from one place to another. One time to another. A project creates continuity, a place to return, to remember where you were and where you want to go. And the kicker…it doesn’t matter how they turn out. It’s the doing that matters.

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