I don’t remember how young I was when I first began drawing, but I remember the thick, brilliant white pads of paper my father brought for my sister and I to draw on, and that I joyously filled them out and then I would tell my father, “Daddy, I’m out of drawing paper” and he would magically fill the void with another pad of paper. On the reverse side of each page was a grid of blocks with the title of Inventory on them (which in retrospect, I assume he took from the supply cupboard at work).
Entertaining myself one winter day when I was home sick in bed I was coloring the then black and white comic strips. In time the world of coloring books opened to me. Midway through elementary school we got an art teacher who encouraged me. But my parents said the classes she wanted me to attend at the art museum were not in our budget.
My life in art really expanded when I got to high school where I easily slipped into other realms and time ceased to exist through calligraphy, oil painting, wood block printing, entering and helping our teacher hang our work at the annual May Show at a department store downtown. A piece of my upright Italic lettering merited an Honorable Mention in the show.
From the childhood materials of simple items I graduated to real art supplies, canvas and fine paper; my best friend in high school gave me my first real pad of newspaper print drawing paper, which made me feel like I was really a student of art.
As a young adult I took courses at the Cleveland Institute of Art at night and part time while working as a research clerk at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, before moving to Washington, D.C., where I continued to study art at the Corcoran School of Art.
A lady I sat next to on the bus going to work knew I was into art and she had been telling me that our church had an annual art show, would I be interested in working on it and I said yes. After hearing about it for months, she finally told me there would be a committee meeting for the art show and I went. To my surprise, she advised me that I had been nominated to “hang” the show. A department store downtown loaned us long blue drapes and wood frame forms to hang the artwork onto. Having some experience with this from high school, I didn’t hesitate and rounded up my friends Edna, Dick and his friend Frank. We arrived at the church hall in the evening to see all of the work submitted by children through adults including one of my paintings. We worked late into the night until every piece was in place. We turned out the lights, locked the building and all went to our respective homes.
The next morning after Mass I wedged my way into the hall which was packed with people and suddenly I was floating along looking at the crowd, at the artwork, at everything and I knew I had arrived at a high point in my life.
A girl I worked with bought my painting and that was icing on the cake. The lady who got me to do the work said it was the best art show the church ever had. I remained euphoric for a long time.
In 1969 I moved to San Jose, California where junior college level courses were tuition free. My expenses were fees, books, an insurance card and art supplies. I took multiple classes including textile arts, ceramics, wood sculpture, print making, and art history besides the required courses and everything else I was hungry to learn about, by which time I had more credits than necessary to complete the AA requirements, I was advised to move on to San Jose State, where in 1982 I completed the work on a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in abstract painting.
While I never earned a living using my art background, it has certainly added a colorful perspective to my life.