I have told this story many times before, but I realize that it's always to someone in person. Some of my biggest supporters live in far away places and we haven't met yet, so I would like to share my journey with you.
You may have seen my work already on Instagram or Etsy, and I share a little about each piece when I can. But I deliberately became an artist and each work that I create has a passion and purpose behind it.
Back in 2014 I was a stay at home mom. I loved my role, but wanted to know if there was more for me in this world. I felt like all I was doing was mothering, and it wasn't the great impact that I wanted to make in the world. I wanted my daughter to be proud of me in some way. Can you relate?
Within my motherhood journey I began to grow closer to God. I started attending a bible study for moms at my church and I wanted to become a spiritually better person for my daughter. In my search for purpose I decided to involve God. I asked Him what He wanted to do with my life, and as I continued to seek God I finally found Him.
One day God told me he wanted me to be an artist. It was random for me. I went to college for fashion design, but never finished. I took one drawing class. I never really thought about pursuing a career in art. Where would I start? What does being an artist even mean? Overwhelmed with all the questions that I had, I told God, "I really don't have time to be an artist and figure out what that is. I'm a mom and wife, where would I find the time?" and He said to me," You can just sleep less."
From that point on I began to get up at 3am and paint with God. Everyone was asleep in my house and it was the perfect time to spend a quiet moment with Him. I would turn on worship music or a sermon and learned the basics of painting via youtube. I learned different techniques and experimented with portraits, landscapes, and abstract art. I felt that since God said He wanted me to be an artist then that meant I could only paint Christian things like scriptures, or bibles. I put myself in a box.
I started posting my work on social media so I could get some feedback. I ended up landing my first commission! I was asked to paint Jesus, which I thought was pretty coincidental. I was so excited after the meeting about the project that I got right to work. I ended up spending 60+ hours on the painting. I put everything I had into it. I was so proud to show it to my clients. When I sent a picture, they were not pleased. They asked me to make a few changes and I did, and showed them again. They still didn't like it. I suggested they see it in person, maybe the pics didn't do it justice. After seeing it in person they decided to back out and were no longer interested in the painting. I was devastated.
After that I felt so crushed and it caused me to question God. Why would he lead me down this road only to embarrass me? How was I supposed to have the confidence to keep going after this? Why did this have to happen on my very first try? I felt stuck in that moment of rejection, so much so that I stopped painting. I felt like I was unable to get to the other side of the hurt.
In 2015 I moved to the Dallas area from Oklahoma. I took a job at a company that helped connect people with mental health professionals. When people called we had to ask their reason for reaching out, and I heard things like depression and anxiety for the first time. People on the phone knew what was wrong with them and had words they could assign to it, and I felt empowered by that. All this time I didn't have a word for my feelings. I decided I would go to therapy. I searched specifically for a Black therapist who could understand me in a better way. When I met my therapist at the first session, I brought up all the other things going wrong in my life. I briefly mentioned my art and she said, "I get a lot of clients that are artists and they are stuck in some way". I knew then that she was perfect for me!
I saw my therapist for 8 sessions, and she worked with me through my pain. I had always wanted to paint Black art. I felt that our community is so oppressed, I wanted to create art that uplifted people. But somehow I felt that was against what God wanted. I thought that if it wasn't something directly connected to the bible, then I was going against God. My therapist helped me see that there is nothing wrong with wanting to create art that is positive and inspiring. God wants all of us to feel good about ourselves. God doesn't live in the box that I created for myself. He is so much bigger. She set me free. This was 2016 and from then on, I have been creating the art that you see now!
I started attending art shows in December of 2016. It was a whirlwind. I met so many incredible people and talented artists. I knew I was hooked from then. I continued to work and art was my side hustle until 2018. I was laid off from my job. When I came home that day, God told me that it was time for me to do this full time. It was such a scary feeling. I did not look for another job after that, I just trusted in God. Things began to fall into place for me, and I was awestruck. I never had to go without, or be worried about not being able to pay for groceries or rent. God truly provided for me. I worked really hard and was at a different event each weekend. I sacrificed social time with friends. I sacrificed sleep. I researched ways to make my business more profitable by reading books, articles, and watching videos.
Once I stepped further and further into the art world I realized there was a serious lack of not only Black artists, but Black subject matters. Galleries would look down on me for my choice to only paint Black women. I felt that I should paint what I know and where my heart is. So I chose to continue painting images of Black women even though it caused more rejection.
When I see images of Black women in art, most times they are naked, or it is sexual. There is so much fascination with our bodies. We are way more than sexual beings. I paint women in a way that disconnects the body so that you can hear their stories. I want each piece to have a meaning and cause some type of emotional response. When I meet people at art events I love to hear their reasons for connecting with my pieces, and I love the conversations that arise. Art brings people together and I've witnessed that in some beautiful ways.
So if you ever see me or my work and wonder what it took to get here, this is it! So much pain and heartache in my adventure. I had to develop a strong prayer life. There were ups and downs and when you say yes to God, be ready to trust Him in your storms and in your sunshine. I still have so many goals that I want to accomplish, so we will see where the road takes me. Thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with me!