I have loved making things since I can remember. When I was four I had my own personal studio set up in my room where I would draw, cut and tape my creations to the mirror. I have had an obsession with colour for almost as long and when I got new school supplies when I was little, the new box of crayons or markers were my favourites.
As I got older, I did take a few art classes, here and there. When I started junior high, I was at Catholic school and we didn’t have an art department. I ended up in drama, which I suppose was good for a shy kid, but I hated it. By the time I got to high school, because I didn’t have the prerequisites from junior high, I wasn’t allowed to take the art classes. I didn’t push it. I didn’t know it was what I was supposed to do. I didn’t know that art was my soul’s destiny.
How do I know now that art is my destiny? It took a long time to figure out because I lost it along the way. I remember a scene from the movie, Stand by Me, where Chris tells Gordie that his stories aren’t stupid and that he needs to keep writing them, even though his parents don’t care about his talents. He tells Gordie that someone has to let him know that your talent is important, because when you’re a kid, you don’t realize these things, and kids lose everything. I guess that’s how it was with me. I’m not bashing my parents, or teachers or anything like that. I’m just saying that I almost lost it.
I’ve talked about my friend Jenn before and she really did end up being the person who steered me towards my art. When I would draw her a birthday card or something, she would always gush over it and tell me how talented I was. Every time. Overly so. I didn’t really see it until after she passed away. It’s funny how that works when you lose a loved one. Things become clearer.
Anyway, I did have an opportunity to go to art school. I was supposed to go to Camosun College in Victoria. I had filled out all the paperwork, financing was in place and I was ready to go. I was 22 and was ready to shake the dust of this town off my feet, so to speak. But I got bumped and I was put on a waiting list.
Incidentally, I had just started seeing a man, although it was really a summer fling kind of thing. I was going to school in the fall, he was moving to Toronto, also eager to get out of Whitehorse. He left. I stayed. It was very emotional, as all things are when you are 22. He was driving to Ontario and when he got to Saskatchewan, he called to tell me he was in love with me and that I should meet him in Toronto. I went, and we’ve been together ever since, almost 17 years now.
So that’s what happened to art school. Art took a back burner to life, and after a wedding and two babies, art made a reappearance. I took a keen interest in the latest reality TV genre, tattoo shows, and rekindled the flame. I found it funny that I would watch anything that showed people drawing. That was the same reason I watched Mr. Dressup! Some things don’t change. I, unfortunately, couldn’t find anyone to teach me how to tattoo in Whitehorse, not that I had a year I could apprentice for free anyway, but the medium drew me in, and I started drawing again. First with pencil crayon, then I discovered acrylics. I researched as much as I could on the medium and started to experiment. I read tons of art books, discovered the Group of Seven, which I am thoroughly ashamed as a Canadian that I had never heard of until my 30’s. I always loved Ted Harrison, but how could you not be exposed to him living in the Yukon. I took a colour theory course, and it was like everything clicked. It was the missing link, what you might call a moment of clarity.
I don’t know how it happens for other people, but I know it doesn’t happen to everyone. That moment when you find your true passion, it’s like a light coming on, a flipped switch. It’s so ironic to me that it was always there, right in front of my face. I ignored it and I almost lost it.
I’ve been calling myself an artist for about four years now. I consider myself a professional, even though I have to work full time at my day job to pay the bills. I belong to Yukon Artists at Work, an artist co-operative here in Whitehorse. I am honored and privileged to count myself amoung such a fabulous group of people, and an inspiring collection of artists. I do believe that the universe sends you messages, but they are always subtle. Some people are more receptive to it and sometimes it takes a person a long time to get it. There are of course the artists that found out early, made all the right choices and followed their dreams right out of the gate. I guess my message for other artists out there is that it’s never too late. I am happy I got here, and I know other parts of your life get in the way, but you should always keep dreaming.