My name is Sharon Leah.
I believe everyone is born creative. When we’re children, we express ourselves freely. I felt so free, I drew a pig on the wall in a friend’s bedroom with crayons. Her parent’s were not happy with me and I wasn’t invited back. But my mom, a talented painter herself, gave me lots of encouragement. And with encouragement, creativity blooms. My dad appreciated my natural talents, but he discouraged my desire to be an artist. “You won’t be able to support yourself,” he told me. Lots of people believe that’s true. I didn’t challenge his assumption.
Many people who want to be artists enter other vocations. Vincent Van Gogh tried to be a minister, but he was so intense and passionate that he overwhelmed people. Eventually, he quit preaching and devoted himself to just his art. I went to school for graphic design and illustration and for 10 years, I was a self-employed technical illustrator. I used pen and ink to make pretty drawings on vellum paper for patent attorneys. The largest body of my professional work is preserved in some dark recess in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C. I didn’t paint at all between 1984 and 2015.
In 2015 a friend challenged me to do something fun. “Loosen up those creative muscles,” she said. I was afraid to try. It had been 31 years since I held a paint brush or mixed paint. I’d forgotten a lot, but I decided to at least try making art again. I think of art as a process of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. I love the landscape, so that’s where I started, but not with paint. I used polymer clay and made 4″ x 4″ clay paintings.
Having some natural talent is helpful, but talent can take a person only so far. Ask a good cook how their best recipes were developed. You’ll hear, “Lots of practice and I tweak my recipes until they’re just right.” Deliberate practice is what allows an artist to grow and surpass their own best efforts. Lots of practice, and also good teachers.
I’ve benefited from the support and encouragement of several good teachers, as well as from friends and family. In the end, it’s support from others that can matter as much or more than talent to a person at any age or stage in their life as a creative being.
Some Favorite Quotes
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.Walt Disney
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.J. K. Rowling
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.Dr. Seuss