Did you hear the one about the artist that didn’t like talking about herself? Of course not. I WISH I could end my “great pitch” right there. Ok, I’m not being completely honest about that. So, my story….it’s really not THAT interesting. And I don’t care to embellish, because that stuff can come back to haunt you! So, maybe if I just use exciting words to tell my story, it will somehow seep through the cracks into the pile of really cool artist’s stories. So here’s my unbelievable story with this warning, I may over share.
I was a 34 yr old woman who had spent the majority of her working life in the casino industry when I accidentally sold my first paintings. I knew I enjoyed creating way before this, I had art running through my veins and other parts of my body because I was convinced crayons should taste like the color they represented…I was like 3 yrs old.
Born in Rhode Island, primarily raised by my single mom, who worked as a waitress, she would bring home her pads of order/checks (back in the day, when the order was written on a numbered piece of paper that was also used as the “check”) She asked me to draw things on the back of all her “checks” because she said the guests loved my work. This type of “child labor” continued throughout my life with my mom, when we were living in Southern Illinois some years later, (my later teens and into my early 20s) she worked at a bar, she always wanted me to draw on the “daily specials” board and when she moved in an apartment building that she would decorate everyone’s doors for every holiday, guess who she had to draw bunnies or make bubble letters..yup, this is pretty exciting stuff!
I had done a few paintings as gifts for a few people in my early 20s before moving to Las Vegas to further my chances of fulfilling “my dream to be the greatest casino dealer EVER!” (That’s a lie) All of my paintings were abstract, just colors and movement. One was a large canvas of color with silver outlines of my hands and feet covering it, “Dancing with my Best Friend, Craig.” Craig had been my best friend since age 13, even stood next to him during his marriage at age 24, as his best man! There is a point to all of this, I swear…if you can just hang on long enough, we will loop back around to the importance of this time of my life.
I said “I accidently sold my first paintings”, because at that time I had bought my first house and started creating paintings for it with no intent to sell. Working in Las Vegas at the Wynn Resort casino at the time a conversation occurred with the dealer and a guest, it was about my paintings. The guest was visiting from London and asked to purchase one of the paintings for $1,000…I ended up giving him two for that price and my first two paintings were shipped to London, one of them ended up in the French Alps! See, that’s a little more exciting than bunnies and bubble letters! Maybe if I keep overusing the exclamation point also, I will get through that crack.
Things just snowballed after that, I had co-workers buying my work, people were brought to tears looking at my work and sharing their interpretations with me, it was nuts! I did my first showing at the First Friday event in downtown LV in 2007. I went on to sell to people from all over the states and even to a buyer in Shanghai…all pretty cool stuff! I was for the first time considering this art thing as a potential career.
Although, retrospectively speaking, I was already in a great position/place to sell paintings at my casino job where I had access to people from all over the world, I wanted to be immersed into an art community, which didn’t really exist in Las Vegas. So, I moved to Southern California in 2010 to find my art tribe members. Suddenly, I was not a small fish in a big pond, I was that nasty little sand crab creature that dwells along the shore of the mighty Pacific Ocean, the largest of the Earth’s oceanic divisions. I started doing pop up shows in LA and did continue to sell, but at a much slower rate. Other things (a relationship) started to take up most of my time and I started to believe again that a career as an artist was not meant for me.
In the summer of 2013, I received a message via FB from an old friend, Craig.(I told you things would circle back around) We hadn’t spoken in many years and he had some sad news…he was facing a divorce after 16 years of marriage and with 6 children ages 2, 4, 5, 12, 15 and 16. Catching up with him inspired me to think about my career as an artist once again as he shared with me how much he felt when he saw my work on my website. He had always had a love for art and going to art galleries, from being a teenager and going to art museums in St. Louis through to his adult life dreaming of one day owning his own gallery. I found it so refreshing and motivating discussing art with him, that I married him in 2014. (Ok, that’s not exactly why…I kinda loved him too)
So, we relocated back to Las Vegas, ease of job opportunities because we both had casino careers and we needed money…did I mention SIX kids? Craig immediately put me on strict orders to paint, paint, PAINT! With now “only” four minor children in the house, I PAINT and Craig submits my work into showings, magazines and handles all the business part of my art….just couldn’t get him to do this part, which is unfortunate for you, the reader. He’s gotten me into some really great showings, a few editions of a cool art magazine – Studio Visit, a couple pop up shows, one reality show and a part of the Life Cube/burning man project 2016 among other things.
I’m at a place now where I have someone that is working really hard for me because he truly believes in me and my art, that he also believes it will get him to fulfill his dream also of one day having his very own gallery. The last time I ever remember feeling such support of my art was drawing on the backs of those checks.