One of my favorite books and the most life-changing book I ever read was Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. In it there is this sentence: “For all practical purposes, these landmarks are invisible to the natives, simply because they’re always there in plain sight.” That is, only tourists notice the unique beauty of the world around them.
I live to travel. I love becoming a tourist. I bathe in the energy of Places and bring it back to people in my paintings. By depicting regular places in the bright, vivid colors that their singular energy awakens in my heart, I can turn every viewer into a tourist themselves, whether it's in a truly foreign land, or in their own neighborhood.
By doing so, I can make them notice the beauty that has always been there. And isn’t that the goal of art?
I was born in Urbana, Illinois, and lived there for the first 6 years of my life, tromping all over the University of Illinois campus with my parents and younger sister, and playing in the fountains even though we probably weren't supposed to. I started drawing when I was very small, and somewhere I have a picture of a humpback whale that I drew on a manila envelope when I was 3 or 4.
When I was 6, we moved to Rockford, IL. We had a lovely home with a sand pit that my younger sister and I would play in and bury our little Disney toys in (R.I.P. Esmerelda, sorry we never found you again!). We also watched a ton of Muzzy, Rick Steves, and "Animals are Beautiful People," played boules, and rollerbladed around the haunted basement. In 2nd grade, I met some of the girls who would become my best friends (still are).
When I was 9, we moved to Wynnewood, OK, to be near my mom's parents for a while, but moved back a year later, right as Y2K hit. I remember my parents huddled over the computer as the clock struck midnight, and then nothing happened.
I attended Winnebago schools and graduated in 2008 with a group of girlfriends that I still love to this day. I never took an art class; instead, I played flute in the high school band. The only art I did was for school projects, and doodles in the margins of every single class notebook.
I attended the University of Oklahoma from 2008 to 2013, where I majored in Environmental Engineering... then Political Science... then Mathematics... then Math Education... and finally, Environmental Sustainability. I came home to Illinois in the summers to paint murals for the Winnebago Schools. Finally, after 5 years in school, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sustainability - Planning and Management, and started work as a temp for the State of Oklahoma (Oklahoma Corporation Commission)--georeferencing historical aerial photos of the state of Oklahoma. I love GIS, and I feel very lucky to have been able to start my career doing something I love. I still work for the OCC today, only now in a full-time position as the Brownfield Program Project Coordinator. My boss and I manage EPA grants that help us assess and remediate historic oil and gas-related contamination sites across the state in the name of economic revitalization! It's wonderful and stressful and rewarding as heck. And on top of that, it pays my bills and funds my travels and gives me amazing health insurance and benefits. I am lucky.
I started painting in 2016, and haven't stopped since! I've taken some workshops with great artists in the past few years, as I've learned a lot from my friends in the Mid-Del Art Guild. I can't wait to see what my art future holds.
Pictured below: Me, at 18, obsessed with music. And then me and my girlfriends on graduation day!