Back to School

The list of art education I’ve had would fit on that little piece of paper inside a fortune cookie. Besides my high school art classes, I am mostly self taught. I went to college, but not for an art-related degree. I changed my major 4 different times while at West Virginia University and ultimately earned a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree which is basically a piece of paper that says that I earned enough credits (in multiple areas) to graduate. I like to say I know a little about a lot, but my parents don’t think its very funny considering they were footing the bill. My brothers had been very successful in college and went on to have great careers. I wanted to be successful at something, I just didn’t know what that something was. Making a living as an artist was the furthest thing from my mind even though I was constantly drawing and doodling on the sides of all my class notes.

After college, I ended up working as an administrative secretary at the College of Creative Arts, in the art department. I was still drawing, doing portrait work and even illustrated a book! At one point I asked one of the painting professors if I could sit in on a class and he graciously obliged. No credit, no grade, just taking a class because I wanted to learn. I never missed a class. I learned how to build and prep a canvas, how to blend colors, the importance of an underpainting and so much more. I also learned that I LOVED to paint. It wasn’t just fun, it was peaceful and helped calm my mind. My very first painting was a still life.

First oil painting, 2009
My first paintings hanging in a very prestigious gallery, our shed.

Since then I’ve done mostly portrait commissions and that is something I will always do, but I’m excited to explore different ways to express my creativity. I’ve actually already blogged on that topic here. But where do I start? I have a sketch book full with ideas, but which one do I pick? What if it is a total flop? What do I have to say? I’m a wife and mother, my day consists of packing bookbags and planning dinner, what could I paint that would be of any interest? So I decided to go back to school in a sense and paint a still life. My subject matter? Something I’m constantly surrounded by – my kids toys, and more specifically, their play food. This will be part of a series of toy still life paintings that I will eventually hang up in the kids room in a gallery style.

Toy Food
Still life, acrylic

I enjoyed applying those techniques I learned almost 10 years ago and I plan on doing a lot more painting. College is out of the cards for me now, but I don’t need a formal education to do what I love. Every artist is constantly learning and practicing. That process never truly ends and I’m excited to see where it takes me next.

The still life set-up
The reference photo
The underpainting
Finished and framed