People always ask me – “Have you done this all your life”? It didn’t make any difference what stage of life I was at, it is always the same question. If you are wondering, “Have I Done This All My Life”, I will tell you if you have a little time. I have tried many endeavors during my sixty years of life, as most people have. My interests have usually been in the arts, so they show more openly than other peoples hobbies and passions. People always tell me how talented I am. I thank them and remind them that we all have talents. It’s just that most people don’t display their passions through art, poetry and music. They are just as gifted, but in less visible areas. So never feel intimated by another’s work, just enjoy and remember that you are also gifted in areas that may not be as easily displayed. You can just be a great Mom, a good friend, or a wonderful husband and contribute and share with the world just as much as any famous artist!
The creative part of my life starts with our move from the suburbs of Cleveland to the family farm in Marietta, Ohio. We decided to leave the hustle of the big city and live in the quiet, beautiful rolling hills of Southern Ohio.
I have always enjoyed music and wondered what made things work when I was young. I loved to build things out of scraps of wood and take things apart. Unfortunately, I didn’t always get them put back together correctly! I began music lessons, when I was six, on the piano and accordion. Later, I learned to play alto saxophone and clarinet. I never had a great interest in drawing or art in my early years. I liked math and was still wondering how things worked, so I became a mechanical engineer. I graduated from Carnegie Tech (before it became a Mellon) in l966. I worked as an engineer for the next 15 years. It was after I married my ex, in 1979, that my first creative dream came true. I had always wanted to learn how to do wood turning. So he bought me a Shopsmith. The wood chips flew and I took some workshops. I had dreams of making a living as a woodturner. So we decided, to leave the big city, and our good jobs, and move to Marietta on the family farm. A simple life where I could do wood turning.
After doing a lot of fancy turning and art & craft shows, I learned how to make cedar eggs. They sound simple, but they really took a lot of skill to make. We would start with 2 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ by 5″ blocks of aromatic, red cedar. Then screw the block onto the lathe and start turning. The completed egg would be finished with a fine burnishing cut with a gouge, then have the ends cut off with a skew and it would drop into your hand finished. My ex also learned how to make eggs. We ran a wholesale business making and selling cedar eggs to stores and galleries. We often made more than 30,000 eggs a year. We made cedar eggs until 1989. Finally, even though we made good money, we got BORED. I sold the company and we both went back to real jobs.
We also moved from the farm in the country to a nice house in the city of Marietta. Mind you, Marietta, is a city of 15,000, so it is not like a big city. A charming, wonderful town with brick streets and nicely kept historic buildings. Lots of friendly folk, too! See, I told you this is not the big city. Just beautiful rolling hills of the Appalachians.
Your can’t keep a budding artist down, so I quit my engineering type job, again, and opened a store demonstrating and selling my handmade cedar eggs and ornaments. Marietta is a beautiful town with lots of tourist in the summer, but the winters are long. Not very cold or snowy, but long. So what little money that is made in the summer, is lost from lack of business during the long, cold months. So, after four years, I closed my store.
Before I closed my store, I started to learn how to blow glass over a torch. This process is call lampglass work. Glass rods are melted over a torch and the molten glass is shaped while the glass is still soft and workable. I had fun making lots of animals. I finally felt that I was truly being creative.
Life always has a few surprises in store for you. Just as I was starting to do art shows and wholesaling my glass work, I found out that the bright light and heat from the torch was bothering my eyes. The eye doctor said he saw white blisters in my eyes – “What are you doing?” “Blowing Glass” , said I. Well, if you don’t stop, you are going to start to lose your sight. Well, isn’t that the way. You find something you really like to do and have to quit. I wore the proper glasses and took all the precautions, but for some reason it still bothered my eyes. Oh, well. Here comes the art part. I always had a thought that I would like to learn how to paint. Well, at fifty years old, I started on the path to becoming an artist.
I took my first oil painting class, like all aspiring artist do, in the winter of ’95. Then took private watercolor lessons, for one and one half years, from a very talented artist, Lee Fritch, in West Virginia. Thanks to him, I almost received a college education in art . He is an extremely educated artist who is able to explain and teach his craft. Many, many thanks to Lee. I certainly would be back in the early stages of learning if it hadn’t been for him.
Since then I have painted a lot of animals, dogs and landscapes. I love to go outside and paint on location. It’s also great fun to go to the zoo to sketch and paint. I find the animals have a lot to say. I have painted close to 400 paintings and I have found some of them really had a lot to say. So, for some reason, I began writing poetry to go with the paintings. I have found the two to be very complimentary.
I also enjoy taking photographs of sunrises and sunsets. Nature has so many beautiful scenes for us to enjoy. I like to capture that beauty even though it never is as gorgeous and the original.
It seems we never know what life has in store for us. I have told my story to help inspire those of you who have a dream, but never acted on it. It is amazing how much talent is hidden in all of us. We just need to let go a little, be bold, be a little creative and let the talent out. Find your passion and enjoy it. It’s never too late.