Monday, October 6, 2008

Artist Autobiography

I had to write this little ditty for my class so I thought I'd share it with you guys.
By Definition

An artist, by definition, is “someone who creates art; someone who does something skillfully and creatively.” Then we must ask, what is art? That is a tough question with many different answers according to who you ask. In my life, throughout my thirty one years there have been many different answers.

My earliest childhood memory of all things creative goes back to kindergarten. The details that surround this memory are fuzzy, but I do remember my mom standing with my teacher, in the classroom. What were they discussing? Well my wonderful masterpiece of course. According to my teacher, little Charleen had mastered the art of copying from sight a picture. I couldn’t even tell you what the picture was. I felt so proud on hearing this conversation. My dad was the artist in the family and I guess I had inherited his abilities.

Because my dad is the artist in the family, creativity was always encouraged in the house. Now that I think of it, it was probably one of the only things that were encouraged and it’s a good thing that I happened to like exploring this world. Growing up in San Jose our old house had a considerable number of things that my dad had fashioned. The house itself was my dad’s personal, unfinished art project. It was built in the year 1900. That thing had character with its wood columns, large overhang on the roof, and nicely sized front porch. My parents bought this home when I was about two years old. Being built in the year 1900 it was done in the Craftsmen style of architecture. After living in it for some years my dad discovered the old garage on the side of the house was actually a carriage house for horses. That would explain the horse shoes we would find buried in the dirt. People in San Jose would know where I lived by my simply stating that I lived in the house with the wagon wheels hanging on the porch on 17th Street. This brings to mind the feelings of embarrassment that I had as a child over those wheels.

As a young girl I would set up coloring contests with my sister. We would each pick a page, set a time limit, and color to the best of our ability. There was nothing that I loved more, as a child, than the smell of a fresh box of Crayola crayons. What is that smell? Nothing compares to it. It’s a woody, waxy scent that is all its own. And the names they had for their colors, pure genius… carnation pink, burnt sienna. (Even as a child I knew the other crayons couldn’t compare. I always found Rose Art to be too waxy and the colors were never consistent on the page like all the other knock offs.) Experts say that the memory associated with our sense of smell is the longest and strongest. I know this to be true, because I can still smell those crayons. After finishing our vibrant, multi-colored, waxy marvels we would run enthusiastically into the room where my mom would be seated and we would try and trick her into picking the best one. What mother can say that one of her child’s work is the best? She was always disinterested in our little contests anyways. My mother suffered from depression and these games of ours were only distracting her from her escapist reality that she created for herself. She would rather be lying in bed dreaming of some other world. Well I knew that mine was the best anyhow, mostly because I was the oldest and I did have that extra year and a half of practice on my sister.

Not only did I play with crayons, homemade glues and papers, and the like I also started experimenting with the camera. It was love from the very start. My dad had been given a Canon 35mm with a set of lenses, filters, and other interesting gear by my grandfather. As his interest in photography commenced so did mine. I was given an old camera to toy with that I took and had so much fun with. I cannot remember what I took pictures of and I have no idea what ever became of those prints. Having those prints developed and getting to open the envelope to see what I had captured on film was like Christmas to me. Every roll meant something new.

In middle school the opportunity arose to take a photography class, which I quickly jumped at. That class opened my eyes to the chemical process of the medium. Trying to get the perfect shot of Andrew Baker that I (along with every other girl at Burnett Academy) had a major crush on was my only goal during this class. He was just a boy, but he was the cutest boy in school. I didn’t want it to be obvious that I wanted a picture of him. Stupid me, how easy it would have been to just say that I needed it for photography class. Needless to say, I somehow did get that shot I wanted and knowing how the other girls around me felt about him, I probably could have sold it.

Moving on to high school, I had my less than functional years. I stopped taking school and life seriously, even though I was in the advanced classes. My parents didn’t care what I did in school. I knew this to be a fact. If I did well they did not congratulate me. If I did poorly they did not scold me or encourage me to do better. So if they didn’t care, I didn’t care. Lying became a normal thing for me because I found that I could get away with so many things. A whole new world social world was open to me because of it. I could go to teen night at The Edge in Palo Alto and dance my heart out. My parent would never allow that. Digital photography was offered during my senior year there and I took it as an easy ‘A’ and something different to do. Quality was very much lacking in the digital arena back in 1995, although this class was considered very high tech. You can look at the yearbook from that year and pick out the digital images without difficulty. It was a regular sight to see a group of professionals touring the class and asking us questions. This class was also my first attempt and introduction to Adobe Photoshop.

College was a feeble attempt by me to get into the computer industry. Upon trying the programming classes I soon gave up because it was over my head. I had better things to do. I had a new boyfriend that I soon became engaged to and married and had four wonderful children with. Life was busy. My little angels inspired me to stick with my love for papercrafting and scrapbook their lives. Naturally if you are addicted to scrapbooking you find yourself taking pictures more often because you need them to play with. So I found myself back into the art of photography full force.

Twelve years later and I finally decided to do something with this love of mine and I enrolled in the photography program at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. Needless to say it made my dad happy that I am finally learning how to use a camera. Photography is the perfect release for me because it incorporates my love for color, texture, paper, and the beautiful fallen world that we inhabit. It is my goal to learn to do it skillfully and creatively.

5 comments:

Lily said...

how illuminating. Looks like we have alot in common,depressed mother, early interest in art.

FASHION OF YOUR WORLD said...

hi
hello
how was your day?
i liked your blog
you are fantastic!!!

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bye
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see you

creativelyouttacontrol said...

Auntie Velma had some "tears" while reading this. This is a wonderful bio.

hf52771 said...

Very interesting.....amazing how many of us have similar stories...

I also want to thank you for the great stamps I got in the mail today. I can't wait to put them to good use! Thanks for the fun tutorials.
~Heather

:: gingerkitty :: said...

how are you doing?