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Following the Call of Creativity

3 Sisters, 1 Pair - Acrylic on canvas by Alisha K. Ard
Art has always been an important part of my life. As a child, when my grandmother would read books to me at bedtime, I was as enchanted by the details of every illustration as I was by the stories. When I would visit my mother in the summer, she would entertain me with art projects. I was absolutely thrilled to get newsprint drawing pads and pencils as gifts. In High School, I took a single semester of Art class my Junior year, but with the “starving artist” stigma, I did not consider art as a serious career option, so I started college in pursuit of a Chemical Engineering degree rather than a formal art education.

Fast forward to late 2006, and I was a stay-at-home mom to a 6 year old son in Kindergarten and a 1 year old baby girl. I read blogs and articles about the Daily Painters movement — artists painting one small painting every day as an exercise to hone their skills. These small works were then posted to art blogs and sold online. The whole idea appealed to me for several reasons. First, it would give me a reason to shop at an art supply store (seriously, if I were to win the lottery, I would buy one of everything). Second, it would be fun to experiment with painting instead of just drawing. Third, if I turned out to be any good at it, there was a chance to make some extra money from it.

To that point, I had only ever painted with watercolor, and I knew that was not the medium for me. I admire the luminosity that other artists can achieve with it, but I apparently lack the patience for the drying time so I end up with a muddled mess. With small children, I didn’t want the chemicals that accompany oil paints in the house. Thus, by process of elimination, acrylics became my chosen medium to try — and once I did, I loved the diversity of it.

So, I started an art blog! I painted a small painting a day for 3 days! On day 4, I was reminded that life with small children means chaos is ever looming and you don’t actually get to do what you plan to do every day. I continued painting, though at an average rate one per week rather than one per day. And then something amazing happened — they began to sell, and, even better, I began to get commissions!

Then life threw one of its curve balls in 2010 and suddenly I was a single mom, working full-time while going back to college, with no spare time to paint at all. After a year of turning away commission requests, I took down my website, deleted my social media accounts and art blog, and focused on finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. It felt like killing a vital part of my being to stop painting, but I was not at a point to support myself and two children on just my art income. My “artist eye,” as my son calls it, would not be denied, however, so I kept my creative spark alive with photography — vowing that someday they might be reference photos for paintings.

When I finally completed my degree in the summer of 2015, the first thing I did with my free time was get back to painting — of course — and realize what a horrible mistake it was to have deleted my blog, taken down my website and dropped all of my social media contacts four years prior. I also realized that I liked my photography as the photos they are, not as references for paintings. Since I didn’t want to choose between painting and photography, I decided to move forward with both.

Last year I had my first solo art show and works accepted in juried gallery shows. I began rebuilding my social media network from the ground up, and now I am starting the foundation of my new art blog. I am excited about some new directions I am pursuing with my art this year and this blog will be a great platform to show the process. I welcome you to connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and view my portfolio of works on my website.


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