I was born in Vallejo, California
and three days later I was transported with my twin brother
to Clear Lake Highlands where I resided for the next sixteen
years. I was the middle child in a family of ten children.
We lived in a very rural area far from town. We lived one
mile from one of the largest fresh water lakes in California
and about a mile from a lumber company. This lumber company
would in a few years become my art store.
As most children do I spent
a great deal of my time drawing, coloring, making mud pies
and beating my brothers up. Because we lived not far from
a lake and the winter months kept us indoors we found many
ways to entertain ourselves, one of which was to design and
build rafts during the winter that would be ready to launch
at the beginning of summer.
We of course spent hours figuring
out how to move our very fine raft. Sometimes having to nail
pieces that had fallen off of it back on before we reached
the lake. Once there, we would launch the raft, pile on and
most often stay afloat long enough to make it to the center
of the lake.
Even though we some times
had failures with our raft design and construction we continued
to improve on them and in the process we became very comfortable
in the use of building materials and tools. We also learned
some things are an evolutionary process. With diligence, patience,
ingenuity, focus we eventually built a raft that conveyed
us to the other side of the lake.
It was during these outings
to the lumber company collecting wood from the scrap piles
to make rafts that a whole new world opened up to me. I went
inside and saw huge bins filled with a variety of nails, screws,
learned that there were screws for metal and wood, saw box
after box and bag after bag of cement, plaster, mortar, and
didn't have a clue as to what one would do with all of these
They had bails of different
types of wire used for fencing and chicken coops, huge roles
of rope in various diameters and wooden dowels in a variety
of shapes and colors. I suppose my mother knew that in a relatively
short time my brothers would not want me tagging along with
them and I would then be at a loss for something constructive
When I was about the age
of five my mother decided she had a future artist and then
went about supplying me with a variety of materials from which
to draw from. Some of these materials included things we found
on walks along the creek or through a field, such as twigs,
rocks, pieces of weathered wood, and feathers.
We would return home with
our collection and sort through, examine each thing, sometimes
make stories up about the things we found and how it could
have come to be where it was. We would give it new life by
turning it into something else. We would set about sorting
and washing the things that needed to be washed. When all
the materials were dry we would talk about what we would like
to make or how we would like to use these objects.
My mother would then bring
out a huge box filled with an array of objects, some found
from previous walks, some from leftover sewing projects, bottles
of paste and glue, paints, colored pencils, scissors, and
my favorite, empty Quaker Oatmeal boxes! Cut the right way
with a few added pieces and exterior embellishments one could
make beautiful drawstring handbags, doll cradles, and even
cars when axles and wheels were attached.
The only thing the junk box
lacked were instructions on what to do with all of this stuff!
I did not realize at the time that not having instructions
or everything laid out for me was a good thing. My mother
in her wisdom new this. I had not yet developed the idea that
there were no boundaries or rules. That came much later. There
was no voice or mother saying this is right or wrong. Not
having these concerns allowed me the freedom to explore and
experiment with a variety of materials.
My mother, unknown to me,
had put a wood burning tool into the junk box. It was up to
me to take the initiative and learn how to use this tool,
which I did. Once I learned to use this tool it added a new
dimension to my work. My mother would often hand me art supplies
with which I had no prior experience and tell me to make use
of them. I always found this extremely frustrating and thought
she should show me how to use them. It was years later, while
attending the Academy of Arts and Hayward State, that I realized
there was a method to my mother's madness.
My mother didn't show me how
to use these products because she wanted to see if I would
take the initiative to explore, experiment and incorporate
these products, new and old, into my work. In her way she
was teaching me to problem solve and promote the process of
creative thought. So, thank you mom.
After art school
I spent several years painting and very much missed working
with other materials and sculpting. I found that I was becoming
very bored painting on flat surfaces. I decided to stop painting
for a while and spend some time thinking about what I would
like to make. First I had to ask myself a few questions, such