I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember. As a child, I loved the feeling of creating something new, from friendship bracelets and tie dyed clothing, to a radio show, fliers for a babysitters club, and (what my best friend and I called) “kids junk sales.” We basically ran inside our houses, grabbed things we didn’t want anymore, arranged them on a folding table, made signs, and screamed “KIDS JUNK SALE” at cars as they drove by. Looking back, I never thought of myself as an artist, but I can now see the thread of creativity and entrepreneurial adventures running through my childhood.
As a teen, I spent the majority of my time socializing, making beaded jewelry and perfecting the art of the mix tape. In college, I fell in love with painting. Something drew me into buying a canvas at my college bookstore, along with the basic primary paint colors: red, blue, yellow, black, and white. I figured I could make all the other colors from there. I also bought a carrying case for my art supplies and started adding to it slowly.
In my junior year of college, my mom passed away, and I couldn’t bring myself to attend classes like normal. I was a psychology major, but when I came back the following fall, I changed my major to art (media) for the year. I needed an escape, and to do what my heart was calling me to. I had spent so many years studying things that I had to study, and now I felt like it was time to study the things that I actually enjoyed. I still loved psychology and analyzing people, but it just felt too heavy for me at the time. Instead I took sculpture, silent film, and folk music, and I LOVED it. I also began mentoring two sixth grade girls through my university’s teaching program. We did art projects together, and I brought my little art box with me each time. I wrote about our art projects each week for my assignments, and started hanging my paintings in my apartment. I learned that the magic wasn’t so much in what we were creating, as it was in the time we spent together while creating. Looking back, I see the seeds of becoming an artist were planted many years before I actually began considering myself one. Eventually, I changed my major back to psychology because it would take much longer to complete a new one, but I always remembered that year fondly, and ended up with an “area of focus” in Visual Arts.
When I finished my degree at UCSD, I got a job as an art teacher at a little pre-school in La Jolla, California. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay very well to start, and it was too far from my house, so I ended up taking a job at a family business instead, at a tugboat company where my Dad worked. My son Mikey was 9 at the time, and as a single mom, I needed to make enough money to support us. I ended up working there for 13 years. I began by answering phones, learned accounting, and when I left I was the Director of Human Resources. I learned a lot of valuable skills while I was there, including the ins and outs of running a business. I also started an Etsy shop in 2007 selling jewelry, and simultaneously began learning everything I could about online business. I continued to feel the pull towards running my own creative business, but kept following the more practical route in my day job while trying out various creative adventures on the side.
When my daughter Olivia was born, I took a long extended break from my day job. While home with her, I earned my Master’s degree, worked on my teaching credential, taught a few art lessons in schools, and continued to dabble in a creative business. I continued to make jewelry, started making bath products, thrifted and sold vintage purses, and made baby headbands. During this time, I actually got rid of all of my paint and brushes, thinking that I just didn’t have time to paint with a new baby.
A few years later, I went through a difficult time personally, and found myself needing answers, wanting to make changes, and create a life that felt more aligned to who I really am. As a result, I began a more focused spiritual journey, and started blogging, taking painting classes online, and going to therapy. Something inside of me told me that I needed to paint. I completely immersed myself in personal growth for a couple of years, and slowly my life began to change. (I share a lot of this journey on my blog.) I was still working at the same day job, but began to create space for something new by working an alternative schedule and taking fridays off. I also went through two surgeries during this time, and afterwards I felt inspired by the possibilities for myself and my art, yet I was still finding it hard to take meaningful action.
A year later, I was in a new relationship with my now husband, Shawn. With his help and encouragement to follow my dreams, we leased a property in a tourist town in the mountains, and began renovating it to become an art gallery and gift shop. I planned to sell products from other creatives, along with making my own art and crafts. Olivia was now 5 years old, and I was still working my day job 4 days per week. The mountain town was an hour and a half away, but I figured I could manage it on the weekend and somehow make it work. Shortly after beginning renovations on the shop, I found out I was pregnant with Isabelle and became way too nauseous to travel on those curvy mountain roads, and we had to let the property go. I was devastated. I felt like I was finally getting close to my dream, and now I couldn’t do it. I wanted to be a mom and a creative, and I just couldn’t figure out how. And so I surrendered, took care of myself and my family, and put the dream on hold.
In October of 2016, Isabelle was born, and when she was about a month old, I began painting again. I spent the previous years taking painting courses, following along with lessons, learning about materials, and now it was time to paint. I wore her in a wrap until she was old enough to sit and play in a bouncer, and I painted daily for a year. I only had short windows of time to paint, but having a studio space set up, that was also a playroom for the girls, was huge. I shared my journey on Instagram and by the end of the year, I had 22 paintings completed. During this time, I learned how to create consistently by overcoming so many of the belief systems I had about being able to be an artist and a mom.
The following year, I continued to paint a few days a week, developed a style that felt more like me, made my first series of 12 paintings, and began selling my work. I made roughly 30 paintings that year, joined a women’s business circle, made heartfelt friendships with inspiring women, and began sharing the spiritual wisdom behind the creative process. I learned that I paint because it heals me.
This past year, I moved to a new town with my husband and kids, deepened in my painting style, felt a confidence and ease around my painting process that I’ve never felt until now, and have been looking for ways to expand. I’m still painting, but I’m also getting back into blogging, making You Tube videos, plan to release a series of art prints, and create some online courses on the horizon.
My journey of becoming an artist wasn’t an easy one, but by listening to my heart, finding support, learning to be consistent, and staying determined, it eventually came together. I look forward to continuing to share my love of painting, personal growth, and more as the journey continues ♥️