TEN YEAR ITCH
Two years ago I had come off a ten year break from making art. This was an unusual time in life for me. You could liken it to saying something like I took a break from being Erika for 10 years. I had always identified as an artist, and it has always been a part of my foundation. My awakening started at the tender age of 4, when I was drawing with my Uncle Andy and watched him create beautiful drawings of horses running. It instantly stirred something inside of me. It was as if I decided or even remembered that this is what I want, this is who I am - I am an artist. From that point on I had always identified as an artist and was immersed in making art. As I grew up it wasn’t a question of will I have a creative career, it was more, what is this going to look like?
So what happened? To back up a little, along my travels I had lived in San Diego for 3 years, painting almost every single day in a makeshift studio I had created out of the shed in the backyard. It was a sacred space for me, my refuge. Things came to a head when two life changing events happened to me at the same time. The action sportswear company I had worked so hard to help brand dissolved, and a friend of mine who I believe is schizophrenic started stalking me. I won’t go into nitty gritty specifics, but after two years of dealing with the stalking and worried that it would escalate, a SDPD investigator stepped in and I finally had some relief.
It was only when I felt more protected that it gave me space to realize that I was really burnt out from feeling unsafe and living with the constant vigilance of hyper awareness. After a lot of thought I decided I needed to leave. San Francisco was always a place I wanted to live, and became a natural next step for a fresh start.
I left my life in San Diego, my friends that I considered family, and I was heartbroken. I knew I needed the change, and began a refreshingly anonymous life in San Francisco taking myself off the grid. The strange thing was, painting which had been my refuge in San Diego, was something I had little interest in those first 10 years in San Francisco. Despite the city’s abundant creative energy, I was mourning the life I had left, the free spirit in me that had been silenced, and I put all of my energy on my new life and graphic design work.
TWO YEAR FLOW
During those first 10 years, I had tried multiple times to paint again, but nothing ever stuck. It wasn’t until my husband (then boyfriend) and I moved in together that things started to shift. We lived near a beautiful trail that I discovered right before we had become engaged. I had decided to walk that trail every morning before going to work, and it instantly felt so good to be there. I knew I needed to be in that space, and as I walked that trail daily, daydreaming about getting married, something began to stir inside of me. I began to get to know it as if I was getting to know a part of myself. As the seasons changed so did the surroundings and so did I. I started to paint, and although I wasn’t painting direct landscapes of the trail, I knew I was influenced by it. The space feels sacred, and when I’m there it feels like I have closed my eyes and dreamed it. A white path, surrounded by a sea of neutral colored shrubs. Purple dragonflies and yellow banana slugs are the inhabitants. It has it’s own ecosystem and it transmits itself inside of me. I then transmit it in my work, and the results are ecosystems on paper.
It is now two years later, and I have painted ecosystem upon ecosystem. They are isolated in composition, color on white, and you must focus on the world at center - as if looking under a microscope. Sometimes it’s an environment, sometimes it’s an organism, but they all feel alive with energy. They all fall naturally from my hand onto paper. I have been painting for two years now non-stop. Something inside of me has awoken and a part of me has healed. It was something I never expected but as I sit here and write this feels like it was always supposed to come. I have often heard when people look at my work that they have an energy to them or that they feel healing. I am so honored and grateful that they are resonating with people in such a profound way and I hope that as I continue to paint, that the energy in these paintings inspire and heal others the way they have done so for me.