It was a hot, clear morning that produced a mirage allowing one to see grain elevators 130 miles away and save for the curve of the earth, one could perhaps see forever. I was sitting with my grandpa on the tailgate of dad’s pickup. Grandpa got tired of my questions I suppose. He stuck a finger in the little pocket on the bib of his overalls and pulled out a stubby pencil, square rather than pointed on the end from being sharpened with a pocket knife. He tore the flap off a carton for a tractor oil filter and drew a square. Then he drew another on top of it but not aligned. He then showed me how to cause the two squares to become a box by connecting the corners with lines. Even at four years old this exercise was intensely exciting to me. Three dimensional illusion from a few lines was wonderful new information. It was relevant to my view of the world. I never saw much art as a child (art galleries in Western Kansas were far and few between) but I was fervently motivated by color and drawn like a magnet to pencils, paper and crayons.

My mind works in such a way that I can compartmentalize and lock away for safekeeping impressions and images, problems and solutions. I think I became an artist, not to draw or “create” so to speak but to define a space wherein I could comprehend and define the problems and manage what so ever occurred therein. The canvas is a safe haven, a place where I can lock in cause and effect.

I’ve learned a couple of things as an artist. One is to never hold your brush in your mouth as you might a pencil. The turps burns the corners of your mouth. The other is that the single most redeeming quality to be developed is humility and the one to be avoided at all costs is self pity.

In what other occupation does the value of your product increase when you die? Also in the arts more than any other profession, skin color matters. Art creeps so close to the soul that artisans themselves have assigned deep meaning to ethnic origins. Being a white woman who paints people of ethnic origins different than my own, I have had to reach deep into the bone and marrow of culture to find the common sinew that binds us all.

Most artists learn in time to steel themselves against “How long did it take you to do that?” Even though it is probably not the meaning intended, what we fear in that comment is that the depth of the work has been eclipsed by the effort put into it. The one I really hate is “Well, just so long as you enjoy what you’re doing, that’s all that matters.” Can you imagine saying that to a teacher, an electrician or a concert pianist? There are days when none of the above are fun but because they are important jobs, we all understand there is a higher purpose; overall.

I aspire to a higher purpose. The world is full of disgusting, repulsive and offending images. There is no shortage of illusions and living examples of those things that degrade humankind. The body, soul and spirit of man is under constant attack, in a struggle. I want to bring into being images that encourage the soul and uplift the spirit, that speak of faith, hope and love. I’m not interested in illustrating despair.

I am grateful to live in Belize. I love the people and the traditions. This country has provided me with endless subjects to paint. I praise God for affording me the skills to be an artist. I am thankful for all the friends and supporters of my art. Thank you people of Belize for sharing your country with me.