It feels trite to say Southern California born and raised. Beyond that, it doesn’t feel like it’s the whole truth. My life doesn’t feel like it resembles the lifestyle people associate with Orange County culture.
You see the dirty secret is: I don’t surf and I hate yoga. I’ve never really been a pool party person. I hate shopping malls and commercialism. Until my now husband moved in, I had chosen not to keep a tv in my apartment.
When I was younger, my family didn’t do Huntington, but they did do Laguna. We celebrated every holiday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day alike, in Laguna. We didn’t spend it on the beach either. We spent it gallery hopping. Looking back, I think that was half of learning to make art. The technical skills would come later and at a greater cost, but it would’ve all been for nothing if I hadn’t first learned what good art looked like.
I’ve had the good fortune in my life to be exposed to incredible art. Southern CA is amazing like that. The Getty, The Getty Villa, LACMA, The Huntington Library, The Norton Simon… I had so much right at my fingertips. Still: it’s deeply different to walk through a community with hundreds of living practicing artists.
Aside from a very brief period in my childhood where I wanted to own an animal wildlife park, and about a year and a half where I thought I’d be a writer, I have always wanted to be an artist. Even then, my idea of preparing for those situations was to keep notebooks full of drawings. World building maps for a novel, exhibit drawings for the animal park. I always ended up back on the same course though.
In retrospect, it’s surprising I stayed the course because the second part of the equation, the technical skill required to actually make art would allude me for years. I had severe fine motor control issues when I was a kid, and despite physical therapy, I would hold my pencil in a fist through most of high school. I don’t remember when it changed exactly, but it took at least half of my present lifetime to move past it.
It wasn’t for lack of help either. My parents were incredibly supportive, and I had gobs of art classes. I went to an arts conservatory high school: The Orange County High School of the Arts. Then I spent my summers in Idyllwild, where a different arts conservatory high school became a summer camp. When I went to college, I started in the English department and migrated steadily into the art degree until I had a Studio Art degree.
I was terrible at art for years and years though, including most of college. I don’t say this out of insecurity or modesty: it was bad. At 25 I was moving into my first apartment (don’t judge; life is expensive in Orange County). I went through flat file drawers full of old art as I was packing, and brought almost nothing with me. I felt like I finally had work that I was happy with and that the work in those drawers could be let go.
My work has continued to grow since then, but after that point, I had things of which I could be proud. Now I find that having completed the first half of my journey, and being well into the never ending process of improving technique, I am facing something I never considered. I never had a clear image of my art reaching the point where I could be an artist full time, but I’m working to turn a vague daydream into reality.
Feel free to join me. More friends will make the journey easier.