China and my return to art after 26 years
I studied art for 4 years at the university of Guelph from 1976-1980 but because I suffered with an auto-immune disease, by the time the year 2006 rolled around, I had totally forgotten that I had the ability/gift of art making! it took me until 2007 to begin dabbling with art again.
My father was probably the greatest influence in my life as an artist. He was a sculptor and would go to flea markets and have the occasional show of his beautiful work, but nothing came of it other than a few sales here and there. He never seriously pursued a career with his art; he had a family of six to support. Everyone always admired his work and whenever I could, I spent hours in the shop with him, just watching face, body or animal-like forms emerge as he chipped away at his creations. (see his work here)
When I went to university, I had no plans to do a degree in fine art because in high school I was discouraged from "wasting my time" making art. But one little "art and design" course slipped into my first year amidst all the courses on computing, science, and languages; and that one little "art and design" course took hold of me; I then dove into as many art courses as possible.
Even though I REALLY enjoyed making art in school, and it was well crafted, somehow I was convinced that I was not very good at it - maybe because at that time all the praised students made conceptual art.
After graduating with a 4yr art degree (in 1980) I managed to get married and raise two kids despite struggling with MS symptoms (from the age of 19). The interim years until 2006 became a blur even though I tried to create a large drawing which was taped and screwed to my kitchen wall - for a slow 5 year drawing process.
As I mentioned above, over the years, I'd totally forgotten that I could actually draw, sculpt and paint. The thought that I'd ever make art again in the future had not entered my mind until out of desperation with my poor health, and a last ditch effort prayer of exactly this, "Help me Jesus!", I began a 7 year, expensive process of hard core cleansing with serious lifestyle changes. My health slowly improved.
It was a year into this 'getting healthier' process when I had a eureka moment - I suddenly found myself thinking creative thoughts! They were so foreign to me, I remember being startled at this new thought process. Praises to God because what slowly began emerging out of the mess of my life was a joy and purpose in making art like I'd never had before!
Traveling to China in 2008 with my husband was a kick-start-art-creating event for me. Still regaining my health, our China trip was an arduous journey with airport delays and more, but the 3 weeks I spent in Zhumadian, Henan Province, were almost magical - everything was so different. I took thousands of photos with my digital camera and suddenly had subject matter to paint for decades!
Through all of my life's experiences Jesus Christ is my guide, my stand-by, my strengthener, my joy-giver and my hope. He was there when there was no hope from anywhere in the world. I am forever His.
If you're an artist inside, it will eventually come out of you - no matter what struggles you go through in life, no matter who discourages you, no matter where you happen to be.