I have been making art since I was a little girl. My mom always tells stories of how she would bring crayons and paper to church for my brother and I; the supplies kept us occupied and well-behaved during the service. I don’t remember any of my creations from those Sunday masses, but I do remember enjoying the chance to create something new.
From a young age, I was intrigued by colors and techniques, some of which were well beyond my years.
I would watch a show called Pappyland, where the main character Pappy Drew-it (ba-dum ching!) would teach you how to draw different pictures in every episode.
I had books that taught how to draw cartoons, compiling numerous notebooks full of practice sketches.
I watched Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting on PBS and admired his ability to put a painting together in a matter of 30 minutes, hoping one day to be able to paint like him (Side note: I’m still in awe of him over 20 years later and still probably can’t do what he did. What an inspirational and talented human).
I was so immersed in this artistic world and could not get enough of it.
As a kid with anxiety who went through some tough experiences growing up, it’s no surprise that I was in need of an outlet. Art gave me something to focus on that got my mind off of whatever else might have been going on around me, or even in my own head. I drew and painted mostly, but my subjects were not limited: fashion design, cartooning, landscapes, fancy lettering, mosaics, and portraits were just a few of the areas that I ventured into. Art became a safe place for me to explore and create, one in which I relished, and, as it turns out, flourished.
Art was my favorite subject in school, with music being a close second. In the younger grades we were forced to learn instruments, which I really wasn’t down for, but I can remember being as young as 8 and wanting nothing more than to spend the day in the art room learning as much as I could.
The teachers that my friends disliked and thought were “mean” were the teachers that I loved and took a liking to. I volunteered as an art helper, spending free periods cleaning and organizing the art room. My safe place began to expand, from notebooks and artists on TV, to supply closets and guidance from teachers. I felt safe in the art room, while also realizing how much creative opportunity there was outside of my own little bubble.
As I got older, I started to assimilate the title of “artist” into my identity. I began to recognize my skill and become very proud of myself for it. I was not popular amongst my peers— I had a very small group of close friends and was otherwise a fly on the wall at school— but I was very well-known by my art teachers, all of whom encouraged me and pushed me to work harder at my craft. They liked me and felt like I belonged in their “community” even though I was a student. More importantly, I felt like they understood me, which was not something I had experienced all that much. I admired them and appreciated them for recognizing my talent, challenging me and supporting me as I continued to learn what I was capable of.
Thinking about it now, I think my art teachers growing up were some of the most influential people I came in contact with. I won’t say that they “made me who I am today” as many others might, but I do think that they helped me understand who I could become.
While jumping into the world of college admissions essays, I was introduced to the idea of “art therapy.” It was a field that I knew nothing about but was nonetheless intrigued by, understanding that it was a mixture of art and psychology. I knew I had the art part down from a skill standpoint, and I knew I was interested in how the mind works, but my thoughts didn’t go beyond that.
I had no idea that a childhood passion would evolve into a creative journey and a fulfilling career… but more on that still to come.
What childhood hobby has stuck with you as you’ve grown up?
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