Introducing Cougar Mountain
I grew up in the foothills of the cascade mountains in the early 1970's. I don't know what my parents were thinking when they bought our house. There weren't many people up there... just my family, one neighbor, and the old woman who ate rabbits a ways down the dirt road. I can't fathom growing up any where else. This was a magical place. I had the same bedroom until I left for college, and I fell in love with this room, this house, and every tree on our property. I used to turn off my little radio at night to listen to the rain on the roof. It was the most comforting music I knew.
When I talk about myself as an artist, the house I grew up in has to be mentioned as a character. There was Mother, Father, Brother, House. It was a refuge, a beloved and familiar place. It appeared in my dreams as an endless series of surreal pathways. It showed me secret things, and revealed concepts that I understood as feelings but couldn't express in words. It was a mystery, and I fiercely loved it.
The next important character who formed me was the outdoors, and the relationship it had to my house. I got in trouble with my father when I left my window open in the winter. I couldn't breath if the outdoors was shut out. I loved early spring when the migrating birds came back. There was one bird in particular. The first time I heard it I thought I could have died right then. It was the most beautiful birdsong I've ever heard. (I've still never seen this sensitive little thrush who no longer sings in my old neighborhood but has moved deeper into the mountains where you can still hear it in the spring). I could hear silence and distance, children playing, lawn mowers, a dog barking. It was auditory observation that was both absorbing and peaceful. This too was a refuge.
I have always made art. Like any kid, I invented. I don't remember there being any other way of being. Where most people left off creating, I continued. Looking back, I was on a path of teaching myself from the age of 12. Though I failed art in Junior High (I disagreed with my teachers viewpoint about art) I began to practice and seek out art that drew me in. At the time I didn't get much exposure because art wasn't important to the culture I grew up in, but it was interesting to me. I sought out art where I could find it. Some of my earliest favorites were the art of Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), Charles Schultz, and Tove Jansson (The Moommin series). I'd always loved these books, but the art is amazing. I studied it. In high school I began to teach myself to write and sculpt as well. I self educated in college too. I went through endless bags of clay, and destroyed a zillion fine tip pens drawing. None of these projects of mine, at that time, were for school. I was driven to create, and create I did.
At the age of 30 I finally figured out that I'm an artist, to the bone. I quit my job, and got to work. It's been 9 years now that I've made a living as an artist.