Hey look — I started a blog! Now we have a new way of getting to know each other. How cool is that?
I thought I’d start by sharing my journey to becoming an artist.
Believe it or not, I didn’t always know I wanted to be an artist—in fact, I thought I was terrible at art.
I took one art class in middle school and failed so spectacularly at the pottery wheel that I had to give up and make a coil pot instead. I tried to paint a portrait of my redheaded best friend by mixing yellow and red to make traffic-cone orange. I think I got a B, but mostly because I was punctual.
So I became a Spanish teacher instead.
I loved everything about language, so after teaching for four years, I moved from California to Boulder, CO, to get a master’s degree in linguistics. I loved it so much that I decided to pursue a PhD in sociolinguistics in York, England.
But not long before I left, I went through a really difficult time. In a four-month period, I got divorced, lost two beloved family members, and watched my mom go through open-heart surgery (not literally, but you know what I mean). Also, the family dog died. Oh, and I gained almost 30 pounds.
I was so sad and so anxious and could not turn off my brain, so one day I went to the craft store, bought some paint and cheap brushes, and started painting. I painted this:
It wasn’t a masterpiece, but I LOVED PAINTING. I experienced that “in the zone” thing that runners talk about, except that I never experienced that as a runner because running is hard. I spent the whole summer packing and painting and crying and it was wonderful.
Long story short: I loved my doctoral programme, but after learning more about the world of academia, I decided it wasn’t for me. I came back, finished the degree, and went back to teaching.
And then something magical happened.
I had done a pet portrait for a friend while in England, and I told someone about it, and they wanted one too. And then I delivered it to them, and someone else saw it, and they wanted one too!
The wheels started turning . . .
WHAT IF I COULD PAINT ANIMALS FOR A LIVING?
In 2016, I took a half-time teaching job and started Nose Prints Art. I had no idea what I was doing. I made some flyers and ordered some business cards and ran all over Denver putting them up in pet stores and doggie day cares.
Then I signed up for a booth at the Hearing Dogs for the Blind Run Walk Wag 5k. I bought a cheap tent the night before and picked up a (really, really heavy) 8 foot table for free in an alley. My husband, dog, and four portrait samples came with me. Somehow, despite not having tent weights, my tent did not blow away AND someone ordered a portrait!
Long story short (again, oops): I got better, upgraded my tent, and met smart and talented artists and artisans who helped me find my customers and build my business.
In 2018, I left my half-time teaching job and have been painting pet portraits full-time ever since.
I PAINT ANIMALS FOR A LIVING. It’s the best, and sometimes the hardest, and I’m so grateful to be here.