I believe I was destined to be an artist. It's a title that I sometimes find hard to apply to myself, for fear of coming across as egotistical. I think many artists feel that way. They don't want to brag on themselves. It's very humbling to receive accolades for your work, but at the same time, it inspires you to keep going.
Art is in my blood, quite literally. I am of Cherokee descent and I've been told by the Cherokee people that we're all creative. It's just how it is. Couple that with that fact that I grew up surrounded by creativity, and I had no choice but to absorb all that.
My home was always visually appealing. The lawn was perfectly landscaped, thanks to my parents. There were always beautiful flowers, green grass, and gardens. It was impossible not to be inspired. It remains beautifully landscaped to this day. My Uncle lived right across the woods on a small farm with lots of animals. I spent many hours playing with miniature horses, chickens, pigs, and even a monkey. That love of animals has stuck with me.
My mother has been a hairstylist for years, and has always been creative. She was constantly redecorating our house; moving furniture, painting, adding new accessories. We were always surrounded by color.
My dad operates a sign shop behind their house and has provided most of Troutman and Statesville with hand painted signs. It is a lost art. You can still see much of his work around town to this day.
My earliest childhood memories were made in that sign shop. I spent hours upon hours painting and drawing at my little desk. My dad would proudly display all my artwork on the wall above his work table. I still have that artwork, along with some of my dad's artwork from his childhood.
As I got older, I took art some art classes, attended college for a short time for commercial art and advertising, and received my certificate in photography. During that time, I was never confident that I could "make it" being an artist. I still painted, sold my work at art shows, and became quite busy painting wall murals; but I never jumped right in. Then, in 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Receiving that news forever changed how I looked at life. I realized that time is so very short, and I needed to focus on doing what made me happy. I decided that it was time to dedicate more time to my art.
Now I am cancer free and spending more time painting than I have for many years. I am truly happiest when I am painting. My mind goes to a far off place and worries fade away. I'm thrilled to be able to do what I love and have others appreciate it. There have been successes and failures along the way, but I see them both as stepping stones. I look forward to growing as an artist and sharing my work with many more people. My hope is that I capture a memory for my clients; whether it's a pet, a place, or a loved one. Happy tears are the best compliment I can receive.
It has been a blessing to grow up in a family that encourages creativity and teaches a love of nature, animals, and family. It has all played a huge part of my growth as an artist. My brother, sister, and myself were lucky that God placed us where he did. All 3 of us are creative in some way because of that. That legacy will surely continue with my daughters, who both have that creative spirit. In the end, that's what it's all about. Pass on your gift, share your love and faith, and leave this world better because of it.