Why I Make Art
I have loved creating art ever since I was a child.
Growing up an only child in rural North Alabama,
I spent my time with my art, simply exploring.
I remember drawing elaborate scenes, long before
I could write my name. My mother would sing the bird songs to me, adding her own lyrics. "Listen...they are calling your name...Aaaaaa-Mannnnn-Daaaaaa."
Back then, I didn’t understand the value of art. It was just something I did. People would say that I would grow up to be an artist, but I was never quite comfortable with that label. Also, I didn’t have a picture in my mind of just exactly what “being an artist” would look like. When I was older and it was time to spread my own wings and fly to a distant state, my grandmother, who had never left the Deep South, would write letters to me with the news of her day in rural Alabama: "There was a Cardinal outside my window this morning. And later in the afternoon we saw the most beautiful Bluebird..."
I chose to pursue advertising and design because I didn’t know how to earn a living as a working artist. Also, I had not yet identified who I was or what I loved to do. It was good for me, though. I learned the principles of good design and typography and excelled in my field, winning regional and national awards. But, the experience became an unfulfilling one for me. I was spending my life creating what businesses wanted, instead of expressing what was inside of me.
It wasn’t until I had become gravely ill that I realized that life is too short not
to use one’s God-given gifts. (I'm okay, now.) I also learned, through a life-changing dream during that time, that true abundance comes from doing what you love, identifying a clear benefit, and having one’s efforts bear fruit. Working by the hour does not bear fruit. Making art and selling prints and cards and books bears fruit for me. And it continues to bless me and its recipients long after it has been created.
"Whimsical" is the word many people think of when they view my art. I create with absolute joy and it is my hope that you feel it, too.
It took me a while to understand the "why" and "what" I’m passionate about. When looking to subject matter, I just naturally gravitate towards nature—particularly birds. I spent so much time in nature when I was a child, exploring all the tiny details: the touch, the scents, and the beauty.
During one of my first art shows (while I lived 20+ years in Alaska), an Iñupiak elder woman approached my booth and took a look around. “You must like birds,” she said, wryly. At that moment, it really hit me. “I DO like birds!”
I had a good laugh. Birds were everywhere, and I had not realized it.
That moment was such a gift. It helped me identify who I am as an artist and what I’m passionate about. More than that, I understand why I create. My lifelong focus on birds has been multi-generational. My mother loves birds and so did my grandmother. We’ve used birds in day-to-day life—in metaphors and in stories. And, when I explore nature themes in my art, it takes me back to my roots. It takes me to a place where I am free to explore and share the pure joy I find there.
One of the things I love most about sharing my art is how it puts people in touch with the natural world. It helps them to remember or consider nature, and it makes them laugh and smile as they take it in. It’s good to remember all the creatures we share this world with. We are more interconnected than we could possibly know, even for our very survival. The creatures of this earth are having their life experience right along with us. They have joy and suffering, just like us. And when we connect with nature, we connect with our deepest selves, too. And in our deepest selves, underneath all the limiting, self-created layers of belief and away from all that is unnatural, is pure love. This is my legacy: Joyful, loving, artistic expression that continues to bless all who share in it. My approach to art and life is best summarized by the ancient poet Rumi: Let the beauty you love be what you do.