“I was 15 years old the first time I went to New Orleans and saw the Jackson Square artists. I was sold. Of course I was down there with a fake ID to see a band. I went home and painted all night. I went to LSU and majored in art. Then Katrina wiped out our home in Ocean Springs. It was too expensive to live in Baton Rouge so I moved to Mobile. It was crushing because I didn’t want to move here and it took a while to find my place.
I have been selling my art on the fence at Jackson Square for the past four years. It is a lottery system to get a permit and there are only 200 permits. There were 60 people in line with me and we didn’t know that there were only 18 permits available. I had to spend five nights urban camping in front of City Hall. It was six days of peeing in bushes and not wearing enough layers in the freezing weather. But I got that license and I’m proud of it. There is an openness and freedom in New Orleans. She is nonjudgmental. I can sell my art and meet people from around the world at Jackson Square.
My dad was in the Navy and we moved around a lot, always living on the water. Now I always need water, change, and a little excitement. Going to school at LSU was hard because I was trapped by land. But there were lakes and I had a little flock of geese that would come to me when I called. I made friends with the elephants at the zoo and an elk. I would go there and write up my notes. I liked school but not enough to stay. I wanted to work in art therapy because I am about caring and helping and fixing.
My first best friend in kindergarten was in a wheelchair. It was covered in the same bear stickers that I had. No one was talking to her and I wondered why. It was the first time I experienced someone being left out. I got in trouble because I would take her everywhere with me. I learned so much about seeing people for who they are from her.
I love love and I fall in love all of the time. It can be with animals, trees, plants, anything. The things I love become art. I paint the best when I am hurting or happy. It is awful when I am sad. My last relationship was my last one. I have so much love but I am okay not being in a relationship because it affects my other loves. There are so many other things I want to give my love to.
My mother is an artist and so was my great-grandfather. He made a lot of the furniture and paintings in our house. I slept in a four-post bed that he made and carved sunflowers into it. I would feel them at night before I went to sleep. We lost the furniture, paintings, and my bed in Katrina. It was the worst thing I have been trough.
I always knew I was an artist and when I was a kid, my colors had to be in order by color value. I loved Van Gogh and Monet and understood their colors. Dusk was blue time because everything turns blue. Blue time at the beach is my favorite time and place because most people are gone.
Music is important to me and I love jam bands. My dog’s name is Zeppelin. I was three years old the first time I heard the Grateful Dead. My Alvin and the Chipmunks album broke so I pulled down my dad’s box of albums and pulled out the prettiest cover, American Beauty. I heard the lyrics to ‘Sugar Magnolia’ about the sunshine daydream, walking through the tall trees, going wherever the wind blows, blooming, like a red rose. That is when I knew I was a daydreamer.
I paint to music and it gets into my spirit and comes out in the paintings. I need to be able to touch and feel. Blank canvasses make me anxious. Why are you looking at me? I have to turn them around or do something about it. My muse comes and goes. When I need to paint, my mood is affected. The painting is the freedom. Sometimes I get lost in a daydream while I am painting.
I am fortunate that I have the love and support of my family because they give me the confidence to do this. I am a full-time art instructor for the City of Mobile and get to share that encouragement and support with children and adults.
I love teaching because I am a kid and relate to the teenagers. They need an outlet to create, but it’s something that they’re losing. Everything is made by technology with phone creations and coloring on an iPad. Adults are children who have been beaten down by society or life. You’re not good enough, you don’t have the best job or the nicest car or your yard looks like crap. Everything is judgmental. I don’t care. Are you happy? If not let’s talk about it.
I hate anyone feeling like they are alone. I am a very up person, but when I am down I am down. A lot of people are down. Every person’s battle is different. Our minds aren’t the same and how we handle life isn’t the same. Art helps you let all of that out. I get anxious until I can release it. I am painting manatees and turtles right now because it hurts to know they are dying in Florida.
When I get on a roll, I’ll paint for 12 to 14 hours. I’m in that moment and it feels so free. Painting is the freedom. I became burned out on Mobile for a while because artists have to undersell their art because we don’t have the tourism to support it. But I am ready to get back in and paint more that I love about Mobile. I am hopeful.
I also want to win the lottery and open an animal sanctuary and a place for people to create art and heal. Music, acting and performing would be there, too. Three things make people happy: animals, nature and creating. All of that is love.