I am an artist, because it seems that I cannot not be an artist.
Growing up, I was nick-named “the mad artist” in my family, and while my parents praised me intermittently for my childhood efforts, that praise was quickly followed with admonitions to put the nonsense away and get on with something “proper and sensible."
I did not consciously imagine myself to be an artist until I was grown up, despite always being totally absorbed by the processes involved from the earliest moment I could manage to hold a pencil. I remember as a very small child being taken to a movie where the newsreel showed Japanese ladies painting parasols. I remember how fascinated I was, and the deep disappointment I felt when that short segment ended, and when I came home, how I quite unsuccessfully tried to repeat what I had seen.
To this day, I remember at seven years of age a very small lesson I had from my paternal grandfather when visiting him, where he showed me a way to paint hair to make it more realistic. That is one of the very few times I can remember actually being taught something about painting as a little girl. I must say though that his wife, my beloved paternal grandmother, taught me many, many things about sewing and all manner of crafts.
I have tried my hand at many things and have followed the average path through life of schooling, employment, marriage, and motherhood, but through it all continued to paint and draw whenever possible. All my life I’ve been fascinated by any and all creativity, wherever I came upon it being demonstrated.
My favorite medium is oil paint, but I sometimes use acrylics for one particular branch of my art, and I also occasionally paint in watercolor. I am also very proficient in painting on porcelain. This is a medium that also fascinated me from childhood, as I spent many hours studying a pair of antique vases that belonged to my grandmother, trying to work out just how the impression of distance could be so beautifully achieved, allowing one to look back through the work.
My advice to artists: Analyze what styles you like the best, and find teachers whose work you admire, whether that is in person in class, or through books and videos, and study how that person goes about things to achieve the effects that attract you. And practice, practice, practice!
Do not listen too much to criticism. Remember: critics are the most common breed on the planet. Your family, your friends, particularly your enemies, they are all critics because being a critic is the easy route. But you will find through life, as I have, that the strongest critics are those who are doing nothing tangible themselves, and never put themselves to the test. While you, you brave person, are putting your heart and soul out there for all to see, and you steadfastly continue to strive for improvement in your work!
Good luck to you all. You know, as do I, the supreme satisfaction to be gained from a creative life.