Throwback Art

Throwback Chapter 3 : Fashion Victim

Welcome to the next part in my series using the past to delve into why I create what I do… I hope others find this interesting and entertaining, and I hope it helps readers reconnect with their past selves and realize how all of those different “us-es” had a part in creating who we are today, even those versions of us we don’t like to spend too much time with.

Though you wouldn’t know it from my own childhood attire, fashion was always a large part of my artwork and I loved imagining my own clothing designs (Note me designing Barbie clothes in our home office on Windows95. Note also, I was wearing unnecessary glasses with the lenses popped out for fashion far before mid-2000s hipsters existed.) I adored designing extravagant imaginary partywear, but was also awkward and uncomfortable in my own skin. It took me awhile to ever give a thought to actually trying to look cool myself ;). Once I got into upper elementary school, I idolized the girls in Disney channel movies who rode dirt bikes and skateboards and never seemed to be afraid of what other people thought of them. I really just wanted to be a cool tomboy but I had no athletic ability whatsoever, and I did actually care a lot at that time about what other people were thinking about me, so … I wasn’t too sure what to do with that. It didn’t stop me from rocking a soccer uniform at Disney despite the fact I’d never touched a soccer ball in my life.

My parents always encouraged art and creativity, and come to find I created my first “mixed media” project with my mom, using cutouts from scrap fabric for dresses at age 4. As I got older, my designs became a bit more sophisticated and I even began naming the pieces in my collection with such enticing titles as “Wide Country Gown”, among others.

Around 15, I finally got a clue and started developing my own personal style which also filtered its way into my artwork. I got hooked on loud, unique, alternative fashion that had a retro flair, and even became a bit interested in the whole club kid aesthetic though by happenstance of my birth year I kind of missed the whole raver trend. Below on the left is what I imagined it was probably like.

I’ve been told my interest in both fashion and interior design stand out in my work, and as I mentioned in my first throwback post people have always played a central role in my art. The way individuals choose to decorate both themselves and their external environment are central to telling part of the story of who they are.

Over this year, my passion for wearable art has jumped off the page and into reality as I began designing my own upcycled clothing. This was at first dove into as a project to help my art students with disabilities lead their own fashion show, and then for myself as I realized this is something I really enjoy.

This is also the first year I had the confidence to participate in some local modeling projects for art friends, and it was an absolute blast. Expression via how I visually adorn myself has been another way I have used art as a tool for communication over the years as someone who is an unwilling introvert due to social anxiety. People are all living sculptures, for the most part wonderful and fascinating (and yes, also challenging at times), and the ability to use how we visually present ourselves to show who we are to others before even speaking is an intriguing tool.

Like with my other art, with my wearables I hope to inspire, make people smile, and help them feel confident and comfortable in who they are. My pieces are available for purchase via ebay, etsy, and facebook so pick your poison ;). Let me know what types of colors, patterns, or images make you feel the most inspired and powerful!

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Throwback Art

Throwback Chapter 2 : Baby It’s Dark Out There

Happy early throwback Thursday, since I likely won’t have time to post on Thanksgiving as I’ll be enjoying family festivities :). Today I’ll be continuing my series using the past to delve into why I create what I do… I hope others find this interesting and entertaining, and I hope it helps readers reconnect with their past selves and realize how all of those different “us-es” had a part in creating who we are today, even those versions of us we don’t like to spend too much time with.

These early drawings from age 1 and 2 respectively cracked me up when I discovered them (Yes, I have a drawing from one year old … in my previous post I mentioned my mother’s expert level archival skills.). The first is of a sad girl who lost her helium balloon she’d been holding to the skies – It seems I had a pretty good grasp on the fact that life is full of disappointments and setbacks after only 16 months of hanging around on this planet. The second drawing is of a reoccurring nightmare I had that actually continued into my teens where my regular, awesome mom would be replaced with an evil, distorted, imposter mom that would often try to kill me or something equally unpleasant. I had terrible nightmares as a kid and what I later learned is called sleep paralysis, and I still don’t logically understand where it came from, my only explanation being our brains are weird sometimes. Thankfully, I eventually grew out of these and started sleeping better.

I’m fascinated by the fact that I was using art as a tool to deal with troubling thoughts even in my pre-K years. This is a testament to the healing power of art that is the driving force behind why I am passionate about sharing art with others not just through showing my own works but through teaching as well.

In a very early blog post, I discussed how art has always been an important tool for communication and self expression as someone who struggled (and still does to a lesser degree) with social anxiety. When I would create art as a teen, I didn’t plan out a concept or specific symbolism as I do now. I just sat down and drew whatever came out basically. Even if I didn’t fully realize it at the time, I see now many of my drawings were communicating my specific anxieties and feelings of isolation or entrapment. In the leftmost drawing, my anxieties and meditations on long term relationships. On the right, titled “Timebound”, my fears of being behind my own personal timeline I had set and my impatience and frustration at being held back from the experiences I yearned for in life (I am still learning that life has its own timeline and good luck trying to force my own timing!). In the mixed media work below, titled “Actually, It Is This World That Is Too Small”, I put to paper my thoughts on confining gender roles, stereotypes, and expectations and feelings of isolation, of just not being the right “fit” for the world around me.

I appreciate artists that lay themselves bare and aren’t afraid to communicate uncomfortable emotions in their work, not for shock value or to be negative for the sake of being negative, but to let others know that they are not alone in their difficult emotions and personal struggles. It’s why my last big concert experience at the end of 2019 was so impactful. I have a deep love for fine artists, musicians, writers, actors, all creatives who are willing to risk transparency and forming a true connection akin to friendship with their clients and fans. It is a risk, and I’ll be honest it doesn’t always work out, but to me it will always be worth it.

In my most recent work that has an underlying darker feel to it, viewers have told me that even in the darkness, they still see that I have left a thread of hope in the narrative. That is another one of those unconscious things that sometimes happen in the art making process, and something to truly celebrate. For more information on some of these works, you can visit the links below.

Top Left: Outer Space Outer Space Is A Lonely Place To Be / Top Right: Flight Response (Currently installed by the river in Wenonah Park as a metal print for Bay City’s 50 Artists Of The Great Lakes Bay Region River Walk) / Bottom Left: September – She Is An Atlas / Bottom Right: Legacy

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Artist Bio

Throwback Thursday – Art Is An Organism

I have always had an attraction to the unreal. Part of this is I have always been a vivid dreamer. I recall crying one morning, my heart filled with the sting of injustice, because I’d dreamed my mother had promised to fill my room with pink balloons and when I awoke, lo and behold not a single balloon! I unfortunately also had frequent nightmares, see first drawing below. Coupled with this was a fierce sense of individualism. I had a strong aversion to directly copying any influence. It seemed like cheating. I was also a coloring book addict, and due to this strong attachment to individuality, I ended up with quite a few pictures of Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” with purple hair, or green skin, or even shooting metallic red and gold lasers from her fingertips at the personified wardrobe. Color her jumper blue? Please.

I suppose I always figured if you’re going to draw something that you can already look at right in front of you in real life, the live version is always going to look better anyway. Show me something I CAN’T see. What I’ve learned, however, is that the whole “You have to learn the rules before you can break them” thing I was always told in school by teachers (which I HATED, by the way) is totally true. Just as an inventor certainly can’t go about building a time machine if he doesn’t know how to rewire a lamp, if an artist doesn’t know the basic techniques that allow him or her to replicate reality, he or she can’t know how to bend it. The very last drawing of the girl with the crazy possessed sword was a project for school my junior year based on a fantasy novel I was writing at the time. I said, “gather drawing references? Grid the facial proportions? Psh, boring!” and went full steam ahead. Note the oddly shaped alien skull, the giant mutant hand larger than said skull, and the strangely sized and placed nose and eye. Like, her eye is literally way up where her hairline should be. If you have innovative, mind-bending, insane ideas, never abandon them! Keep sketching! But in between all that, practice some of that “boring, mundane” stuff in between, because this practice is the key to unlocking the worlds inside your head, allowing you to transfer them into plaster, paper, wood, corrugated cardboard…! Go on google image search and look at pictures of eyes, of hands, and practice sketching them. Look outside your window and even if it’s just for 10 minutes, grab a pencil and try to draw what you see. Use scrap paper, the backs of envelopes from all those credit card applications that fill our mailboxes day after day and just DRAW WHAT YOU SEE once a day. I promise you’ll notice a difference. Each person’s art is like a little organism, and it has to keep evolving.

So there's the regular mom, and then there's the mom with sharp teeth. Note the little girl on the left looking up and being like, "Oh shoot, it's on!"

So there’s the regular mom, and then there’s the mom with sharp teeth (Thank you real mom for the convenient labels!). Note the little girl on the left looking up and being like, “Oh shoot, it’s on!”

Early 80s punk hair, fangs, a bug infested abode with poor sanitation standards and broken windows ... nothing good can come of this.

Early 80s punk hair, fangs, a bug infested abode with poor sanitation standards and broken windows … nothing good can come of this.

Lest you think I'm morbid, here's a perfectly normal drawing of a girl in a bohemian skirt and bangle bracelets jamming out to a cassette player.

Lest you think I’m morbid, here’s a perfectly normal drawing of a girl in a bohemian skirt and bangle bracelets jamming out to a cassette player.

Behold, Emmie the four legged girl! Having only two legs is for squares.

A later drawing from high school. Behold, Emmie the four legged girl! Having only two legs is for squares.

Amethyst Eyes, the fantasy epic that never was. What evil being is living inside that sword, and why does that woman have such a flat head???!!!

Amethyst Eyes, the fantasy epic that never was. What evil being is living inside that sword, and why does that woman have such a flat head???!!!

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