I got into painting at a very, very early age. My father was a commercial artist, and the minute we could hold something in our hand to draw with or color with, we were painting and drawing. So, it was just kind of a natural thing for me, and both my sisters are artists, and both my sons are artists as well. So, I really believe that it is an inherent ability.
How did you wind up getting into teaching? Did you have to put a stop to your painting?
I found that in my early years of teaching I was mostly just doing the teaching and raising my family, taking care of my garden, and all those kinds of things. But I was able to pursue my own art as my children got older and probably when I started teaching middle school. I really got my art out in the community when I was living in St. Cloud. I found it was a good combination being a teacher and giving myself time in the summer to do my artwork.
How do you go about getting your artwork out into the community?
I’m not doing it nearly like I used to. Kind of word of mouth--if I knew other artists in the area or if I knew they had galleries. I used to do art shows and art fairs, and it was a lot of work. People just didn’t realize what it costs to buy an original piece. Then, I was doing a lot of watercolors so I had everything matted and framed, and that’s expensive. So, I stopped doing that, but I met other artists. By meeting other artists it gave me an avenue to find out places where I could show my work. I would enter shows and be accepted into some of the galleries that were up there [in St. Cloud]...When we moved to the Twin Cities I thought, well I’m kind of done doing that. If someone finds out about me, great. But, I started teaching community ed in St. Louis Park, and that got me out there a little bit. And through my teaching art in community ed, I repeated many, many classes, and some of my students kept taking all of them. So, now I have three private students that come to my home studio that I work with. And it’s great. They're adult students. It’s pretty fun
Do you miss doing the art shows?
A lot of artists who do these art fairs get stuck in a rut because what they do sells. And it’s easier, and they have a gimmick that works. I used to tell myself, “I’m not gonna do that,” and I haven’t. But then, I haven’t really made a living at it, either...That’s why certain pieces speak to you, because the person hasn’t tried to use a gimmick, they haven’t tried to control or contrive the piece. You want it to be real. You want it to be you.
I’m a singer, and it’s interesting hearing you say that, and probably thinking of visual art, while I’m thinking of music in the exact same way. It’s interesting how the concept applies so well across art forms.
It does. It absolutely does. That’s what I don’t like about some singers--I say, "who are you trying to sound like? Why are you doing that to your voice? Just sing the song." And I realize there are pieces of music that are more abstract than what you would normally hear, but there’s still good ways to present them. That’s critical thinking right there. That’s what we give our young children by exposing them to the arts. I used to always tell my students, I’m not trying to groom you for being a professional artist. If that’s what you choose, that’s wonderful. But, I’m just exposing you to things...so you have some of that feeling. That empathy you need to have. And the beauty.