This continues my 5 part series about my artist journey.
Part 4 is between the years 1989-1999. It will be a long post because a lot happened in that decade!
I’m glad I kept an art journal during this time because there were so many paintings and series that it would be difficult to keep track of the order if not for my writings. I had a hard time choosing which paintings I wanted to share. I took slides of all my work so I have quite a few to choose from.
Around the time I was creating art furniture (you can read about that in Part 3), I begun painting large acrylic cactus paintings which lasted through about 1991. They were very graphic looking with straight lines and shapes which is no surprise coming from a graphic design background.
I painted quite a few of these large paintings and did a few commissions. I had a love of the southwest and wanted to someday live near Santa Fe, New Mexico. That never happened but that comes later in the story.
This is what I wrote in my journal about creating the cactus paintings.
“I liked doing them but they seemed time consuming and costly with all the paint I used. The cactus and it’s triangle spikes I really love. The desert is a special, beautiful place.”
My 30’s were about figuring out what life was about. Most of my friends were getting married and having children. I hadn’t met the “one” yet. I knew I would meet him someday but I had to be patient. One of my painting series was titled, “What’s it all about? They were acrylic and collage and I often would paint the frame as well. The triangles and spirals were oil pastel on paper cut into shapes. I used these same triangle shapes in my art furniture.
I had every intention of painting twelve in this series. I completed eight when one night I discovered a new way of painting.
“That night was incredibly exciting for me. I had a piece of wax paper with loads of paint on it. Mixed. It looked beautiful in itself. So I decided to use it. I scraped into it, I put the triangle shapes in it. Then pressed it onto a sheet of paper. I peeled it away to find a gorgeous painting but still with too much paint on it. So I pressed another sheet onto that sheet. Which absorbed more paint. I pulled it away to find an image very exciting and pleasing to me. I added swirls and cut outs to it. Then I did more.”
This was the start of a new series and the use of wax paper as a painting tool.
This technique started a new series where I would paint or draw into the paint on wax paper and then press it down and lift it back up to reveal a print that I would then manipulate with more paint or collage images.
I did many paintings using this technique and I sold a few at the artist run gallery, Art/Not Terminal Gallery, where I started showing my work. It was my first venture into exhibiting. I loved the camaraderie of the gallery and meeting new people who liked to talk about art!
About this time I was introduced to Peggy Zehring when I took one of her art workshops at the community college. I would continue to take her workshops over the years and she was instrumental in teaching me experimental ways of drawing and painting. She was the first person to tell me that I had a “visual language” and that it was important for me to record my mark making.
Then I started creating some paintings using whimsical black dancing figures. This is where my printing technique of black pattern started showing up in the backgrounds of my paintings. I was learning to create depth in my work.
I loved these earthy tribal characters. I liked the way the figures danced and did yoga and had their own magical world.
I’ve always thought maybe I would paint more of these paintings but I haven’t. Maybe I will again someday.
It was around this time that I wanted to meet some more artists. So I started an Art Group in January of ’93. People came and went in the group but there were about six of us that met once a month for about 2 years. Part of our meeting time was spent experimenting with different media and then doing an art critique afterwards. I think this helped open me up to experimenting with my own art.
I begun painting abstracts. I made my first international sale, “Forward Motion” to a man in Germany. In 1994, I had my first solo show at Post Art in downtown Seattle.
I kept painting the abstracts but I tried adding collage to them. These I called my “White Series”.
In 1994 I started painting my Blue Mountain series. My painting style was beginning to form.
That same year I decided I wanted to travel to Europe. I was feeling a need to expand my world.
It took me about a year to save so I could do it but in May of 1995 I went to Europe for 3 months by myself. Backpacking and staying in youth hostels. I met and traveled with many wonderful people. It was an amazing experience and I can say it changed my life. It made me realize what a great big world we live in! I wanted to experience more of that when I got home. Adventure and travel!
I decided again I would save my money to be able to move to another city. I threw the names of 3 cities in a hat and chose New York City. The other cities being Albuquerque, NM…they had an art therapy program there I was interested in because I was thinking of changing my career, and San Diego, a city of sun and fun.
I knew New York was the right choice because I felt so good about it. I couldn’t see moving to New Mexico first because I would never want to leave. But I could see myself moving to New York City, getting tired of it and moving to New Mexico.
So I moved to New York City in December of 1996. I had visited it before and had some friends there so it felt right. Everything fell into place. I got an apartment and started freelancing 3 days a week as a graphic production artist for the same company I had worked for in Seattle. On my other days, I was painting.
My first New York pieces were rather dark. My color palette had changed. I thought I had to paint small because there was little room in my apartment. I began painting on 8″ x 10″ paper and small postcard sized pieces. Soon though I felt the cards calling out to each other and I started to put them together like pieces of a puzzle. I called this my “Whimsical World” Series.
I was able to get some art studio space on 14th Street and became involved with a group of artists called the 14th Street Painters. We all shared studio space run by Craig Killy. Craig put together annual exhibitions and open studio events which were very popular.
I continued working on my Whimsical Worlds series and also a Vessel series. It was during this time, that my painting style really developed. My colors became more vivid.
I had many fantastic experiences while living in New York City. But soon I knew it was time for me to leave.
While I was in NYC, I enrolled in an Art Therapy certificate program at The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. I loved the program and was doing volunteer work with pregnant teenage girls making art. I thought I wanted to be an art therapist. I had been talking about becoming an art therapist for about 10 years so I was thrilled to actually be doing something about it.
But I missed the Northwest lifestyle. Hiking and camping and wearing hiking boots and fleece!
I knew of a Masters program in art therapy at Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon so I decided to apply. It took a lot of work, taking psych prerequisites and doing volunteer work, but I was able to get into the program. So I moved to Portland, Oregon.
I was in New York City for 2-1/2 years. I made some life long friends who I cherish. I developed a style of painting that I use to this day. I was able to make a living as an artist in the Big Apple, show and sell my work there. I will be forever grateful for those experiences.
But while living there I missed being around “my people”. I missed my friends and family in Seattle. And where were the nature loving, mountain climbing, granola chewing, down to earth folk in New York City? I did meet a few, but they were not in large supply. So in the fall of 1999, I was happy to be moving to Portland, Oregon.
I’ll write more about Oregon living in Part 5 of my One Artist’s Journey series on Feb. 18th.