Stories about the process of being a working artist who’s faced challenges and adventures of all sorts over a long career. That would be me, thinking back about how much fun I’ve (usually) had, how blessed I’ve been to get up every morning (usually) excited about what a day will bring. When did my career start? In 5th grade when I realized I could turn my passion for drawing into a commodity to get better grades. Extra credit. Served me well.
In 1996, I’d traveled to Florence. I’d been sketching since my first trip – solo – in 1972, hitchhiking and skiing. I hadn’t been back to Europe until 1991 after 20 years: school, making art, giving birth, and raising three kids.
After the first few days of wandering with my kid, I remarked that she wasn’t sketching with me.
She said, “Oh Mom, you’re so much better than I,”
I said, “Yes, but how do you think I feel? I’m here with Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci.”
The thing about drawing is that no matter how many years pass, each sketch takes me back to a precise moment in time. Vividly.
I’ve been working on a draft for what might be the first story, an introduction of sorts.
In 1996, I went to Florence on a quest. I needed to find out if I could be a painter. This was odd because I’d made my living as a painter all and an artist my life.
At the Ufizzi, I stood in line for two hours in relentless rain as moisture seeped through seams of my Gortex jacket. A man finally took pity and offered to share his umbrella. He was Japanese, so I replied with the only Japanese word I knew, “arigatō.” We both laughed.
Once admitted, I moved slowly wet steps and through packed galleries, an impossible way to experience art. I most wanted to see the drawing collections and finally found the door to this exclusive chamber. Taped to the locked door, I found was a note that said to go to the museum office to make an appointment. Once there, I was told that I needed a special scholar’s permission, that I had to go to my consulate, introduce myself as a professional artist, and obtain a formal letter. An unplanned surprise, this would have to wait for the next day.
…to be continued.
Making Magic: the Disney Years
In 1986, my cousin introduced me to Jen as both his former college girlfriend and currently as an LA designer. We’ve been dear friends ever since. Jen was working for a firm that had just been hired by Michael Eisner to design interiors for Disney’s luxury resort at Disney World in Orlando. On the morning of her first meeting with Eisner, she was racing around preparing her presentation. His global architect, Wing Chao, had arrived early to prepare for Eisner’s arrival, as if Eisner was the President of the United States.
Jen’s high heel broke and in a panic, she grabbed her only option: a pair of Mickey Mouse slippers.
Jen, 4’10,” meets Eisner, 6’3.” She was principle designer for his high end projects in Florida and Paris for many years. Of course, I’d heard this story. What I hadn’t heard, until recently, was the rest of the story.
Jen had brought a huge painting as an example to show Eisner, a micro manager who reviewed every detail. She said, “His first words to me after hello were ‘I hate that’.” She removed the painting, revealing a second painting.
Eisner pointed to one of my paintings and said, “That’s it, that’s the look we want.”
Disney Institute: my process of making art that itself reflects the theme of the hotel – the process of making. After this 5 x 24′ long mural was installed, a guest complained that the mural might cause someone to dive into this shallow pool.
Please note that this is an “in process” blog. All rights reserved.