Growing up, I looked over the shoulders of several talented craftsmen in my own family: a grandmother who sewed wonderfully for a devoted clientele; a dad who worked in wood, every beautiful thing he made carefully and patiently wrought; a mom who decorated our home with beautiful, home-made things, quilts, stitchery, flower arrangements, tasty meals, and the order and cleanliness of the house itself. None of my family had formal training in their arts. They were self-taught. But they were all lifelong learners, always researching and learning more about the things they were interested in. I grew up thinking the public library was the greatest place because so much information was available for free!
As I watched my grandma sew, I used her scraps to make little “purses” with my childish hand-stitching. As I watched my Dad work in wood, I learned to be careful and willing to spend as much time on a project as was necessary. As I watched my Mom, I learned to set a tone for my whole life by keeping my home beautiful and orderly. I learned to embroider and quilt. Like many children, I also enjoyed drawing.
Unlike other children, early on I learned to see what I needed to be able to draw convincingly. My parents took us to see parks and other interesting-looking places. I learned to look deeply, and this helped to develop my love of detail.
I started using a crow quill pen and India ink when I was a bit older. I fell in love with what that pen could do. Later I started using Rapidograph pens instead, delighted by the smooth lines these pens can produce. I attended the San Francisco Art Academy for a short time, but for the most part my art studies have been self-directed.
Marriage and motherhood redirected my creative efforts for many years. My penwork took a backseat to sewing, quilting, canning, and home-schooling. But even when I wasn’t practicing with a pen I was growing as an artist. While taking care of my family, I viewed my world with an artist’s eye and tucked those creative thoughts away for a more opportune time. I was content with this season of my life because I knew that there was a time and season for everything.
Many years later I once again had time to pick up my pen. I was happy to see my drawing had grown in maturity and depth. I began to study systematically anatomy, design, illustration, and image-editing software, as well as the biographies and works of other artists, contemporary and from the past. Drawing had once again become an important part of everyday life.
For a few years I worked illustrating children’s books. I joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and enjoyed attending a couple of their local and national conferences. I value the experience I got by working with authors in the world of self-publishing.