My art education began at a young age, as one of six children in a homeschooled family. As part of our education, my Mother was very dilligent in ensuring her children received a well-rounded education, which included many forms of art education including: drawing, pottery, painting, batiq, theatre, and writing (which I consider to be an art form).
Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) offered a Summer art program for young children, taught by their students. They offered a scholarship program for students who had financial difficulty paying for the 10-week program. One of my pieces (Wedge) was a winning submission, much the surprise of my older sister; shocked, as she spent far longer on her piece than the sloppy piece of ‘art’ I created.
As I left my teenage years behind, my artwork transformed from traditional mediums to online design. For nearly a decade, I stayed employed as a freelance web/graphic designer, creating work for 100+ clients in my 20’s. At the time, I never really viewed web/graphic design as an art form. However, several clients noticed my ability and were kind enough to encourage me to continue in the design field.
Much of my inspiration comes from my older brother, Steve, who inspired me to pick up a paintbrush after getting fired from a job. It was through his artwork, and the healing it seemed to provide him, that I was able to navigate through the very difficult storm of unemployment.
Steve inspired me to begin creating artwork on digital mediums, such as the Apple iPad. Shortly after getting fired, I bought a used iPad for $90 and began painting. The earlier pieces were as elementary as the hardware. However, it sparked something new in me; the realization that digital artwork was the perfect complement to my skills in graphic/web design.
Restricted by the outdated iPad, I carefully weighed whether or not to spend the money on the latest iPad Pro; which seemed capable of handling more demanding/intricate art programs. Mustering up some of the last savings I had, I purchased one. I remember the feeling as I loaded Procreate app, and took the first brush stroke.
It was pure magic.
The hardware allowed me to fully express myself in a medium that I could take all over the world, while creating true-to-scale art pieces that could be printed on large canvases without loss of quality. Immediately, I was in love.
Since then, I haven’t stopped painting. I’ve traveled all over the world and have created artwork from the most unconventional locations and circumstances.
I create art because it has the power to move the human soul in a unique, yet simple, way. When I paint, I feel a sense of purpose that goes far beyond my ability to express.
For several years of my life, I battled with substance abuse; fleeing sobriety at any turn and corner. Few days passed by where I wasn’t high, drunk, or doing my best to excape from reality. Looking back on those days, I have to forgive myself, while having empathy for others in the same circumstance.
My life changed when I began to serve the homeless community, sparked by my chance encounter with Sister J. During my time serving at Portland Rescue Mission, I often felt as if I were in the same stages of recovery as many of the people who came there to eat breakfast in the morning. My time at the shelter is where my healing truly began; I saw that I had something to offer others, even though I didn’t feel deserving to serve them due to my sobriety issues.
Yet, they loved me. Unconditionally. The smiles, joy, love, and hugs I received from those on the streets was the strong hand that pulled me out of my struggle with sobriety.
Art, like the love at the shelter, is unconditional. Some artists receive international accolades, while others only paint for their own healing. I found myself the latter.
When I realized the power art has to change lives, I immediately sought to turn around and help those at the shelter through my artwork; a living testimony of my freedom from substance abuse, acceptance of myself, and the power of unconditional love.
I believe every piece of artwork is an invitation to view the mind of the artist at the time they created the piece. Each stroke is far more than a brush on a canvas; it is their living testimony, displayed for the world to see.
When I create artwork, I see more than beauty; it contains brokeness, tears, a son who desperately misses his Father, and strokes drawn from two broken hands that received healing through service, love, and compassion for the homeless.
51movement is a piece of my heart. Artwork has changed my world, and I am humbled to lead the movement of artists who share similar testimonies.