I’m sure I am an artist. When people ask me, I say that I can’t help but be an artist because it is not something I always do on purpose but I have found that whatever I am doing ends up being visually creative and I am always a little surprised at the outcome because the work has a life of its own.
I make things, objects, and I paint portraits and landscapes and still lifes and abstracts. I garden not because I like the labor of it although a little of that is good too, but because I love working with the color, shapes, space, texture, and personality in the garden. I think this is not odd for most artists to do. When I think of my visual impressions it calms me down and makes me feel connected.
I drew a girl on the wall when I was three. It was life size in solid green crayon. I don’t remember this event but was told my father had a tough time washing it off.
When my first child was born, I enrolled in college and during the next nine years had another child and worked part time jobs and took art classes at night and eventually earned an associate degree in art.
The School of The Art Institute of Chicago offered me a full scholarship and I studied drawing, lithograph, and painting. It was a wonderful experience for me to be with other artists.
Family economics prevented me from finishing a degree at SAIC but North Central College, (much closer to home in Bolingbrook) offered me a full scholarship. I created a few large pieces during this time, (all approx. 12’x20’) for St Dominic Church. I graduated with a BA in Art when I was 33. My mother died that same year. My artwork and my children saved me from paralyzing grief at the loss.
The next year my son was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, and we had no medical benefits, so I became a corporate manager and did very little painting or drawing during this time.
I quit the corporate job seven years later and began drawing and painting on my own.
During this time I worked part time for Woman Made Gallery in various positions.
© Sheila Farley Griffin