Me and My Art

I have always loved art from the time I can remember. We were, in a word, poor - and paper was a luxury. I often scavanged things to draw on - margins of newspapers, paper bags, backs of envelopes. I did have a pencil and a small box of crayons.

 I was also keen on reading and insisted that mother teach me, which she did - I soaked it up like a sponge and was reading on my own by the time I was three...and reading whatever came to hand by the time I was four. (My mother had a small collection of books but put some of them on the top shelf of the bookcase my grandfather had built so I couldn't reach them.) I fell in love with "This is My Best," a collection of short stories and poetry. I read some of the stories over and over, including William Saroyan's "Summer of the Beautiful White Horse" (which made me love Saroyan forever), and Conrad Aiken's "Secret Snow, Silent Snow," which chilled me each time I read it. And there was more - much more.

When I was about eight my mother took me along with her to an auction one afternoon. I had a quarter to spend - rare luxury. Looking over all the stuff, we came to a carton full of old office paper - receipt books, carbon paper, onion skin, yellow second sheets....a wealth of paper! I asked if I could bid on it with my quarter.

I talked about it so much and kept asking if  twenty-five cents would buy it that I'm sure that everyone in the room knew my quest by the time the box came up for bid. The auctioneer smiled kindly in my direction, and opened the bidding at 25 cents. No one else bid. The box was mine!! I continued to use some of that paper into adulthood - using the carbon paper and second sheets when I started writing commercially.  I may still have some of that carbon paper around, and I have lots of manuscript copies on yellow sheets.

A family friend who visited from time to time and who had an odd fondness for me gave me some cash to spend one time. It went for a BIG box of crayons and some drawing tablets. Life was good, and it went on from there. In high school I discovered the art department of a major store that sold books, office furniture and supplies, school text books, and so forth. I started earning a little money and would buy art supplies. On Washington's birthday they would have a 22-cent sale. Nirvanah!

At one point in my early teen years we lived briefly in Pasadena. It was summer and I knew no one so I wandered around the city, attending free concerts and exhibits. I discovered some collages in the museum, by Picasso and Georges Braque. That started my love of mixed media.

As life went on and I had children, most artwork went on the back burner. Writing took a lot of my time as I developed into a professional freelance writer and photographer. (Self-taught in both cases.) I then evolved into an antiques dealer and eventually a book and ephemera dealer, an occupation I continue with today.

I quit writing when my youngest daughter was struggling with cancer, and after she died it seemed pointless. Most of the magazines I had worked for were plowed under the steamroller of corporate monopolization of the media, and the fiction and poetry I had written and published for years seemed meaningless. Casting about for something creative I decided to start doing artwork again and I have been at it since. It was like finding an old friend, or lost intimate part of myself.

The best part is that while I was away from art, there was a tremendous revolution in methods and materials. I have spent the last few years experimenting with varius mediums and tools, and expanding my interest in mixed media, collage, altered art, and I'm sneaking up on assemblage. I trade ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), participate in altered book round robins, belong to a book arts group, and this year participated in the International Collage exchange. My mind is so crammed full of things I want to explore and to create that it's hard to focus on my book and ephemera business - which I am trying to pare down considerably so that I can enjoy art more. With my husband retired and myself past retirment age, it only makes sense to do some of the things I have anticipated for so many hard-working years!

I'm so grateful to have the chance to continue learning and growing and creating!

As of this writing I am 70 years old. I live in Eugene Oregon with my husband Gary (an avid gardner/landscaper) and a middle-aged cat named Fiona (avid about sleeping and eating and sitting in the middle of whatever I'm working on).

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