Me: The Early Years

I am always quite surprised when people want to know my story. To me, I am the most unremarkable boring person alive. I do have a past and many stories, so I will indulge in telling them. This is a follow up to a very condensed version posted to Instagram.

At age 2 my mom recognized my love of drawing and made a note in my baby book that I was “very artistically abled from the time she could hold a crayon”. I suppose when this is mentioned from such a young age, it is no wonder that I followed an artistic path in life. Was it nature or nurturing? I often say I was born to be an artist.

I can’t remember ever not drawing or taking pictures. I spent many hours in my bedroom quietly colouring and drawing. My favourite gifts as a child: colouring books, doodle art, paper, crayons, pencil crayons, paint, paint by numbers, modelling clay or play doh …….I remember this creepy crawly insect maker once that I liked.

When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up the answer was either jockey or artist. My love of animals was (and still is) equal to my love of creating. I took every art class possible through school. The first time I got sent to the principals office was in grade 7 for drawing anatomically correct nude males. It was art to me, but apparently totally inappropriate to be showing my classmates.

Me age 5 adoring the poodle (with my sisters) – not much has changed!

I think it was about grade 7 or 8 that my art teacher recognized my abilities, but more that my rebellious attitude was totally tamed by allowing me to express my creativity (ie: doodling during other classes). Mrs. Potter was very encouraging. I had other champions too, like my maternal grandmother who dabbled in painting.

Dog drawings from circa 1978 age 14.

Also in junior high I argued against taking home ec in favour of shop class, because shop class got to do photography, which was my other love. From a young age, I would bug my parents to let me use their camera. I got my own crappy little 110 film camera sometime around grade 7 or 8. I loved shop class, and learning how to develop film. We also had to do some metal and leather work, which I also preferred to doing domestic things like sewing and cooking. In hindsight, I wish I’d learned to sew.

In grade 10 I had a fantastic art teacher for half a semester. She was a ‘real’ artist, not just an art teacher. She was a terrific drawer. She had been trying to convince the school to allow the art class to use a live model. It never came to fruition during my time there. We moved after my first semester to a small country school with few resources and not so great of art teacher. It was a big let down, but I still took all the classes available. Although I still loved the drawing and painting assignments, I also fell in love with sculpture.

At 16 I started working at camera stores and 1 hour labs so that I could buy a 35mm camera. I eventually did, starting out with a Ricoh camera and then later upgrading to a Canon. I entered both artwork and photography in the community fall fairs art categories and won a few ribbons, which further encouraged me.

1981 Working at the camera shop

At 18, unbeknownst to my parents, I applied to the Alberta College Of Art (now Alberta University of Art). My portfolio had been based largely on photographs of my sculpted masks. I was accepted. When I showed my acceptance letter to my mom, she said they wouldn’t pay for it. I was too young and naive to know there were other options to fund an education. So my dream died there.

I didn’t quit drawing, painting, or taking photographs, but I did quit dreaming of being an artist. I went to business school. Started working at an oil company in their accounting department, and started taking night classes to earn my CPA (certified public accountant). In the midst of this I found my soulmate. Move to a small town in the middle of nowhere, got married, and had a baby.

Stay tuned for the middle years.

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