New Beginnings

Today my son began high school. New school, new neighborhood, new everything. As I gave him a hug before he walked to the bus stop, I thought about the new beginnings in my own life which have shaped me as an artist.

In kindergarten, I remember being nurtured by my teacher, who was an African American woman. I also recall her insistence that I color inside the lines, and that I use expected colors (no, bears are not green). I wasn't a rebel in those early days--I conformed--it was the 60's after all, and we did what we were told.
Beginning the next year, and throughout the next 5, I remember being fascinated by art class and art materials. In those days, we shared everything and I recall the joy I felt when by chance, I got the "good" box of pastels which weren't all broken. Creativity was applauded, and the pride I felt seeing my work pinned up on the classroom or hall walls was a great feeling.
In high school, I was recognized as "artsy"(even then, I didn't like that term!). I began doing posters and acrylic paintings, (love those florescent paints from 1972!) including the ones here.

College: A New Beginning in Every Way
At Wellesley, I knew I wanted to study art, but I also knew I had to "have something to fall back on," which meant an academic discipline other than art. A real turning point was my freshman year Art 100 class. For the first time, I was able to study art history, and it was an eye-opener. It cemented my resolve to pursue art, despite my family's misgivings about my being able to earn a living with such a major. To satisfy them, I majored in art history, minored in studio and English, with an eye to working in education, in some way. To satisfy my own creative needs, I started a campus publicity organization, which created posters for organizations, student government candidates etc., which as I look back on it, was the beginning of my entrepreneurial experience. Later, I partnered with a fellow student in a screen-printed t-shirt business, with my own original designs for Black Greek-letter organizations in Boston.

After Graduation and Beyond
A new beginning, a fresh start; working in Boston in textbook design. I was actually able to put my college training to good use. Involved in developing the illustration and photography programs for textbooks, I worked with artists, designers and photographers to ensure ethnic balance and accuracy of depiction (an aspect I took on myself).
After several years, I realized that while what I was doing was important and necessary, it wasn't as creative as I needed it to be (by then I was in management; farther removed from the hands-on aspects of the job). I enrolled in a porcelain jewelry class, found I loved it, and created Camida Designs, a handcrafted jewelry business as a result. After taking a polymer clay jewelry class, I added polymer clay to the mix of beads and focal pieces I incorporated into my work. As a small-scale business owner while working full time, I felt successful and creatively fulfilled. I traveled to Asia to purchase beads, did home shows and fashion shows, and developed my own signature style.
When I was designing jewelry, I wasn't painting, and I found I missed it. By the time I was married and my son was starting to potty train, I looked in vain for a small stool with an African or Afrocentric pattern or theme for his room. To no avail. My mother suggested I make one myself, and the rest, as they say, is history: Jordan's Treasures was born; yet another new beginning.
So, as I reflect on the beginnings which shaped me, I realize each was a steppingstone to where I am now: about to complete the final year of Jordan's Treasures. Next year will be yet another new beginning; the launch of the new business name (not ready to reveal it yet--soon, I promise) and some new directions for the business.
Stay tuned.


Sonji Hunt said…
It's a good way to look at life...everything that happens as a stepping stone to where you want to be. Otherwise, there are too many regrets if you think "I wish I had of...". No one needs to live with that junk.

I am excited to see what you decide to move toward for yourself.
tammy vitale said…
What a great story!
I'm a 50's kid and I used the right colors but you know what? I was never good at those paint by numbers things because I found them absolutely boring! I teach my grandson how to color outside the lines and use all the unusual colors!

And my undergrad is Business Administration....and my grad is Story and Social Change. The art is mine all mine! Love the image at the top of this page - the mask? and the name - I haven't run across that name yet.
Delta said…
I almost said good luck, but your work is so good you won't be depending on luck at all!

I met your friend at the French/African booth at the Nashville show and she had really nice things to say about you.
Yes, Sonji I've come to that realization, finally. I believe I am where I'm supposed to be, and that things happen for a reason. There've been many, many examples of that in my life, so I truly get it now! Thanks for your comments.
Good for you, Tammy! I'm sure your grandson appreciates your spending time with him, and encouraging him to color 'outside the box'.
Hi Rhonda!
Wendy is great, and I love her shop, as you could tell from my comments on your blog. And, thanks for your compliment, though I wouldn't mind just a little dash of luck when my work's in front of a cranky jury!