I began drawing in my thirties, but I have always been involved in art and creative projects. In high school, I got involved with set and drop design for theater – I was fascinated by how a little paint, some wood and nails could turn a boring, beat-up stage into a fantasy world. I spent all four years of high school drenched in drop paint and covered by sawdust – I was hooked.
After high school, I entered the University of Virginia and studied Comparative Literature, but I spent many of my days nestled in the Art and Design Library near the Architecture school, completely seduced by old books filled with intricate illustrations. The University was a place that fed my love for art and design with its lovely, old-world architecture and intimate gardens. Art chased me through those carefully planted beds just as it had through the workshops of the theater in high school.
It’s not surprising that after graduation, I started grooming dogs for a living – a love for animals and a need to sculpt my world aesthetically made it a natural step to care for the animals that I loved. While whittling away at the fur, I discovered not only that a beautiful animal lived beneath a mass of matted, dirty fur, but I also found great joy in connecting with animals and making the experience pleasant for them. This eventually led to work as a veterinary technician, which, although it allowed me to continue to work with animals, left me feeling somewhat empty – I needed art.
Meanwhile, my husband was at home building a web site design company. I worked with him here and there, usually creating little bits of art for clients as needed. After 10 years of trying to balance this part-time art career with a full-time job at the animal hospital, he invited me to come home to be the head of his Art Department full time. I don’t know that I considered myself to be an artist at the time, but he continued to encourage me to create, and my skills became a valued asset to our company.
One birthday, he gave me a gift certificate to a “serious” art shop, eliminating the excuses I continued to make about why I wasn’t a “real artist”. And that was the beginning of a very happy discovery – not only could I create art, but I could express my love for animals by drawing them. I began portraiture in earnest, at first donating pieces to local animal organizations, and then doing commissioned work for various clients.
Today, I enjoy creating art and sharing it with others in so many ways. There is nothing more fulfilling than learning about that something special that a client feels about a pet or a loved one and reproducing it in art. The connection I feel to animals, people and beauty is something I hope I can express in each piece, and I love hearing the stories of my clients – they are my greatest treasures.