“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
I grew up in an artsy college town in southern Oregon called Ashland, with a population of about twenty-thousand. It’s a tourist destination for thousands of people each year because it is home to America’s first Shakespeare theatre. There, my childhood was filled with a multitude of art forms. Art was always my favourite class in grade school; I was the kid who doodled pictures of animals all across her math exams.
The first ten years of my life, back in the 1980s, were practically void of electronic entertainment and “constant communication”—something I grow evermore thankful for as I witness extremely young children these days glued to handheld devices of all sorts. As a preteen, a couple friends of mine acquired Nintendos, but I had little interest in them. And, other than enjoying a few games of pinball at the local pizza parlor on occasion, my days were filled with outdoor playtime, riding my bike with friends, camping, and frequent visits to ice cream shops and neighbourhood parks.
Around the time I was learning long division, desktop computers were beginning to make their way into some homes in my quiet little mountain town. The World Wide Web was only in the early development stages at that time (yes, this dates back to a time even before we were introduced to the lovely sound of dial-up Internet). My first introduction to using a computer was playing the game Oregon Trail, which came in the format of an 8-inch floppy disc. Thus, my friends and I have come to to be known as the “OTG” — the Oregon Trail Generation. The fact that I’m from Oregon is just a coincidence.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
That’s not always an easy question for a child to answer, particularly when they have so many interests. My early fascination with cats, dogs, rodents, horses and birds initially led me to dream about becoming a veterinarian. In fact, that passion was so strong that it prompted me to pursue an after-school position at a veterinary clinic as soon as I was old enough to hold a job. Unfortunately, that quickly taught me that I was not built to handle the moments of heartbreak involved in caring for critters in bad health.
Photographing animals was another interest, and so, like many young people, I dreamed about working for National Geographic. Architecture and interior design were other interests reflected in my early drawings, and as a pre-teen I frequently found myself sketching elaborate interior layouts of houses and castles, with every stairway, bed and refrigerator in its proper place. Looking back at it now, I think what attracted me was the combination of beauty and structure, and the harmonious ways they could be combined for the sake of comfort, usability and enjoyment.
There are generations of talented musicians, artists and teachers in my family, and so I was destined (doomed?) to find myself ever struggling to focus on just one artistic passion. Basically, I enjoy creating, whether it’s with pens, beads, musical instruments, a computer mouse, a camera, or a stick of charcoal. Life’s too short to pick just one.
I’m fascinated by the marriage of artistic liberty and calculated order. Problem solving—bringing order to chaos—is what lures me to so many of my interests. Jigsaw puzzles are one of my favourite hobbies for that very reason; you start with a challenging mess of pieces, but after time and careful attention to the subtle nuances between shapes and colour, everything eventually fits together to form a thing of beauty. Jewellery design is the same; there are thousands of options in my box of supplies; what I fashion into wearable art depends entirely on my mood, yet there are laws governing the way a quality piece is constructed, to insure its aesthetic appeal and longevity.