I've realized that even though I have told this story many times to various individuals, I don't have it recorded in any public place for interested people to read.
Art has always been in my blood and in my dreams. My great-grandmother on my father's side was an accomplished artist, and several of her paintings hang in my parent's home. My father himself has always been talented with a pencil, though he never pursued it professionally. The other side of my family, my mother's side, are all extremely creative as well. My mother, all her sisters, and my grandmother all found ways to express themselves creatively. For one, it is purchasing and re-finishing antique furniture pieces, another sews, my mother knits, tats, sews, and crochets.
The first drawing I ever remember completing was a doodle of a lion on a scrap piece of paper. My father saw the drawing, snatched it from me, showed my mother, and exclaimed, "Do you see this? This is AMAZING! This little girl is going to be an artist."
Of course, I beamed with pride, but it wasn't until I was six years old and my parents took a chance on a new babysitter that I realized my calling in life. He was a boy and it must have been one of his first and only babysitting gigs because he looked at my brothers and I with large, wide eyes (most likely wondering to himself what on earth he was going to do with a bunch of little kids for an entire evening). After several hours of boredom, I started examining the cover to a new Disney movie my parents had bought us. Instead of suggesting that we watch the movie, the babysitter asked me if I liked the character in the movie. Then he told me that if I got him a pencil and paper, he could draw the character for me.
I watched carefully as he sketched the character from the movie. Even though his attempt was a poor one, that changed my little mind in a very permanent way. From that day forward, I knew that I had one purpose in life, and that purpose was to create art. Rarely did a day pass when I did not draw something. In my prayers at night I would ask God to bless me with the talent to touch people's lives with my art.
My calling in life has always been clear to me. Of course there were times when I got distracted and pursued a different course for my life, but it always came back to art. I took private lessons from Coleen Yuile (an extremely accomplished and well known scratch board artist), all the art classes I could at my public school, and obtained a four year degree in fine art. I have always felt blessed that my life's path was laid directly before my feet - leaving me with the sole responsibility of walking on it.