The tale of how I became The Art Sherpa is a question I get asked often. Among the many how to paint inquiries there are the quizzical pop ups of how does one go from being a SAHM (stay at home mom) to the fantastical AAHM (art at home mom) I am today!
My path up the art mountain was one of creativity from the beginning. Like many children who were labeled as the big T -(talented) I got an early and satisfying boost to my self esteem. Loving the glow of approval, I did what lots of big T kids do. I worked at it...hard. I worked at it all the time.
Through experience and wisdom I have come to understand a great amount of the BIG T is really the BIG P-(perseverance) mixed with a dose of Big D-(determination). My earliest memories are watching my mom paint in the basement of our Colorado home. I look back to that first drawing that was showered with praise by my mother. That drawing she proudly showed anyone who came in the house. That Chicken that she turned into stationary at a special store (in those days a big feet). I think of my pride every time she hand wrote out a letter on it to friends and family. Sometimes I wonder what IF I had not had such a lucky chicken doodle. What if she had not rained love and praise on me. Would I have found the Big P and D I really needed to be the creative being I am today? Because that lucky chicken doodle and my mothers reaction to it is the whole reason I am an artist.
In school I was as many kids are a little awkward and very weird. I liked cowboy boots, horses, and pigtails. I had a lot of very strange quirks and did not know how to easily make friends. But I could draw. The other kids no matter how much they despised me somehow respected and even admired the art.
Of course this was school and a little tolerance does NOT go a long way. I was teased and bullied a lot. I remember feeling alone, depressed, and ashamed. Flawed in some basic fundamental way that other kids could just see. My bullies were triple threats, physical, mental, and emotional. I imagine now they have found a place in government wet work. I clearly remember having a sense of terror mingled with an ongoing need to belong. I was shoved, kicked, and publicly shamed. I remember being pushed to a wall while a red jelly balls were thrown at me. Today looking back its painful to recall my daily walk home head hanging feet dragging in the dirt. That ball of pain on my chest and my stomach aching. Hateful words buzzing around my head. But I had a life raft. I clung to it through all of the awful ups and down of school. I could take my feelings good and bad and put them into pictures. Pictures that spoke up for me. Defended me. Validated me. They created this unshakable faith that all of the "OTHERS" must be wrong. My voice was the voice I needed to listen to. My voice mattered. I was special and all this suffering would add up to something meaningful if I just held on long enough.
There were times along the way I got a little lost and stopped painting. But once you really embrace creativity it stays with you and finds other little venues. Sewing, jewelry making, and really strange clothing choices.
I house of many colors...my poor neighbors!
I got better at making friends and met lots of wonderful people. I dated the wrong men and dated the right men. I had good jobs and terrible jobs. I made it back to college a little later (in my mid 20's) and had a wonderful time there. Met my now husband and had a fantastical medieval wedding. By then I had come to really like myself.
My inlaws were not instant converts to say the least. Our troubles were the kind you see in sit coms. Again the first time I felt that pressure lift was because of art. My MIL(mother I love :p) was also a creative talented person. She may not have been my biggest fan but she loved the art. Her creativity helped me see her good heart and now we are actually very dear friends. Art heals and art reveals!
My mother had painted on and off my whole life. She would go through art blooms and produce a lot of work. Then she would stop for a time. Finally she stopped for a long time. One night she had a dream that she pulled worm out of her finger and a voice told her she could paint now. (If you know my mom you know she listens to dreams,voices, and psychics) She started painting and has not stopped since. She is probably painting right now while you read this. We were a team and made Ginger Cook a household name..(Literally her art was on QVC). Just saw it again on Pawn Stars. She and I went to France because her Psychic told her too. Better then voices I guess. The south of France became a place of Hope and rebirth for us.
My becoming a mom part is another challenging story. That was hard. If you are struggling to have a child and have found yourself among TTC-(trying to conceive) crowd my heart goes out to you. Fertility treatments are awful and make you crazy. There was a MC(Miscarriage). Thats always painful. During the time your a TTC all of your friends and family members will become pregnant!!....It was art that got me through. I may not be able to have a baby but I knew I was a creator. I knew it was in me and it gave me hope.
I got pregnant right after my Husband was on Extreme Makeover. YUP THAT HAPPENED google it. And art was a big part. We used Pictionary as the reveal on the show LOL. My DH-(dear Husband) was awesome before and awesome after but we got to bring a lot of attention to Locks of Love...and we got pregnant.
White pregnant my art brain and my mothers art brain went crazy. We did mural on a whole room. This stared out as three bunnies and turned into a world. Art is the same as being rich. If you can dream it you can probably have it. We just made and painted everything. We celebrated artist style.
I did a HB (home Birth) and that is a whole other story. As are all birth stories. I met my greatest anything, ever, my daughter Honey!
We went to Canada for my husbands work. We rented a house built on the Pickton pig farm land, Apparently Canada had a cannibal cereal killer. Who knew? They turned the land into a lovely neighborhood. As an imaginative person of the 80's I spent a lot of nights thinking about the movie Poltergeist. How ever the only ruckus was on Hockey nights and from roaming Bears. It turns out Canada has lots of Bears and they just wander around and do what they like. While there we had another baby my youngest Lunabella(in a hospital). Again the greatest, anything ever, and I love how thats true every child. Love is so immense!
We found ourselves back in the States and to put it nicely "Re-grouping". Thats what artists do after abject failure we re-group. Because there is always gesso and that paint will dry. The little skills you pick up in the studio really pay off in life. My mother starts bugging in the way moms do. What are you doing for yourself? When are you going to get painting again? Then the worst AND the best thing happens my Husbands contract prevents him from going right back to work and I have CHILDCARE! DH childcare. My mother is working at a Painting Party, Merlot 2 Masterpiece in Houston Tx. She tells me you need to get out and talk to grown ups! You need to do something for yourself, and she was right. So I become a teacher and EVERYTHING changed, It became clear. Now I was a WM(Working Mom). Here I was all along just waiting for the dust to be washed off. Like many of you I love Etsy and Pinterest. It turns out curating treasuries and boards is not an idle habit. I was current on trends and colors so I began designing some paintings to teach. My classes filled up and were VERY popular. It was transformative as art always is. I like to say" Art Heals and it Reveals!" In teaching, some things became very very evident to me. Number one: Art is a set of skills that can be taught to everyone. Number two: Art fills a deep soul need and Heals wounds in everyone. Number Three: We are all born creators. Number Four: I could guide people back to their own artistic truth.
I went back to my husband and shared my story with him. I thought about all the people in the world who did not have a mom who made their Chickens into art...into dreams and hope. The people young and old who forgot or never knew they they are born artists. HOW could I take what I was seeing and bring it into every place that needed it. Dear husband solved that problem and we created the Hart Party. Now I am not a SAHW, TTC, a SAHM, WM, and for a second I was a WAHM(work at home mom). Now I am an AAHM( art at home mom) the ART SHERPA and it is my privilege to be your guide back to your art where you belong!