Biography of a Professional Artist – One Woman's Story

This is a short description of how this journey of "Art Every Minute", this life of thinking, planning, creating, and presenting art, began and found a foothold in reality. Every person's journey will be unique, but perhaps one can glean from my story something of use. First of all, it is important that this experience is coming from a woman's point of view. In a perfect world it would not matter, but in fact, it does. Of course the woman's experience will always and forever be different than a man's, but eventually the disparity in income and career success will continue closer, until it becomes less and finally, maybe, no disparity at all.

The seeds of my career were planted when I received praise for a drawing in second grade, and I just knew that I wanted more of that. From that time on I spent every minute inside drawing, usually horses, but sometimes the people around me. I remember that my family watching TV were willing and pretty still subjects, so sketchbooks were filled with them, and the cat, and the dog, and, of course, more horses. I copied every picture from The Black Stallion, Smokey, Black Beauty, and every head study drawing of the Triple Crown winners done by a famous artist whose name I have forgotten. (When I was young it seemed that the Triple Crown was achieved on a regular basis, but now it's as long ago as my oldest child is old.)

My history next involves one of those special teachers that each of of has had during our lives, and luckily, mine happened in an art class. Mr. Campeau was a force of nature, and a catalyst for all that I would become. I'll say more about him later, but in a nutshell he taught me how to draw, how to see, how to appreciate the world we live in, and how to believe that being an artist was possible as a career; that it was a business, a self-employed business, and that no excuse was acceptable if you really wanted it.

Years went by after high school with very little art to remember. After a short stint in an art major at Montana State University, (with the idea that I would become, like Mr. Campeau, a high school art teacher), I married at age 19 (and 3months), and began work as a secretary; first in Pensacola, FL, then back in Bozeman, Montana, and then in Chicago for four years while my husband attended Loyola Dental School. I guess I believed that my future would happen later. Thinking about it, I don't remember thinking about my future at all except as a part of a team with a definite team leader who was not me. All things career and future became one when we were fortunate enough to adopt our 3-day old daughter as my husband finished dental school and  – poof – we were making plans to move to Alberta, Canada to begin a family and dental practice. The adoption didn't finalize for six months during which time I had to stay in Montana with our baby and not leave the US, (another story), but then we reunited in our new home and art was delegated to an occasional card or gift for the family. So much for the idea that an artist would rather paint than eat, and that a "real" artist must produce every day and could never, never do anything else.

Fast forward to another adopted child, a home in the country with 7 horses, 50 chickens, 4 dogs and 2 cats, even a goat, although that one didn't last long. I was becoming anxious to resume my art – with no real goal, except to have time to get some painting done and to continue the art idea I somehow had let get away from me. I took some classes, had an amazing week at an art camp, complete with daycare, given by the Province of Alberta, and started getting more focused on my next life as an artist. I remember reading the book, Passages, and reading Gail Sheehee's description of a woman's right to her own fulfillment and career goals, especially after helping to get her husband's taken care of. Okay. Now my future is going to include the once distant idea that art can be my life. And then, after 12 years of marriage and in no small way due to the former decision, I became single. And that, dear reader, was what made my art dreams a reality. I knew right then that the way for me to become a real artist was to Just Do It. No plan B, no backup plan. I fully believed that if I had to, I could. (More than that, if I didn't have to, I wouldn't.) I knew I was good at art (who knew how much I had to learn), I knew I could and would work hard, and I sincerely believed that that would be enough, because more than anything else, I am indeed an optimist. Thus my future began in January, 1980. Commitment.