The spunky animals in your art are so fun! What inspires you to create them with such personality?
I have always been an animal lover since my childhood. Growing up I had quite the imagination and would envision animals having a secret that we humans did not know. I even believed I could speak to them! The little world I surrounded myself in was magical, and it still is today! Only now I am a mother of three and my children, with such different personalities, help give me ideas in their daily behaviors that bring life to my paintings. I suppose you could say… I still live through my inner child!
Do you have a preference for creating with traditional materials or digital, and what are some of the benefits of each?
I would have to say that I always prefer traditional over digital simply because I love the texture and messiness in the process of it all. However, as an artist, it is good to know how to do both, especially when it comes to illustrating or commercial work. I feel lucky though, I have learned to incorporate both when needed and that way I don’t feel like I am missing out on one or the other. I can begin a piece with watercolor, and finish it out digitally to enhance the details or erase mistakes. It’s really quite spectacular the technology today and how we can utilize both!
You have three kids, and your youngest has neurofibromatosis – can you tell me more about her story and the inspiration that led you to begin your journey as an artist?
I have always loved art, even as a child I would spend hours drawing. As I grew up into an “adult”, I put it on the back burner and went to school and became a dog trainer and groomer, feeling like I had to have a “real” job. When my youngest daughter, Mavia, was born, my life took a different turn. When she was 6 months old, I noticed light brown spots all over specific areas of her body. A friend of mine, who worked for a dermatologist, told me that it could be Neurofibromatosis (NF1). We immediately saw a specialist, who confirmed our worst fears. NF is a neurological disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere, inside or outside the nerves, along with many other complications. This was devastating news, as I feared I could lose my child. She was diagnosed with two brain tumors and one plexiform tumor in her hip: I couldn’t even comprehend it. I remember still today, the feeling I had when I was told this news. There was nothing they could do, and it was a “wait and see” process. NF tumors grow slow and sometimes they stop for periods of time and then grow again. As a mother, you do not want to be told to “wait and see” when it comes to the life of your child. I sank into depression and a chronic state of stress – I knew I needed an outlet. Then one day, as I was watching TV, I saw a woman painting and she had this calm, peaceful presence about her. I din some research and found out she was local! We met, and she shared how art had helped her through her own grief after losing two sons and thus began my journey into healing. So here I am now, 11 years later. Art saved my spirit and has turned into quite a wonderful career as well! My daughter, Mavia, now spends all of her free time drawing and creating art as well! She still has the tumors, but we continue to research and fight to keep her body as healthy as possible.
Art changed our lives
Art changed our lives… all of ours. I spent many years teaching other women how to find peace through painting, and I owe it all to Mavia. She is above all the reason I not only paint, but help others to find life through heartache.
Do your kids ever create art with you?
Well they’re pre-teens now, so they really enjoy creating art on their own. However when they were younger, we spent many days creating together. I try to get them to paint with me now, but they are so independent.
You’ve said you like to have dance parties in the kitchen with your kids; do you have a favorite song that you guys dance to?
Oh yes! Well…I have many, but some that stand out are Caravan by Van Morrison , This will be (An everlasting love) Natalie Cole and any Disney song out there!
What is it about Quinacridone Gold that makes it your favorite color?
I absolutely love the transparency and warmth in this color! It is my go to when I want to add subtle warmth to any painting. I use Golden brand and you just can’t go wrong with this color. Not to mention it blends well with just about anything.
If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
I’d say anywhere in Europe… specifically Italy or France. I traveled to Rome and Paris once and I fell in love. I think a part of my heart is still there.