The Short Version:

 

Hi! I'm Jaime, a mixed media artist and writer. Check out my paintings, follow me on Instagram, or check out my blog! Welcome! I can't wait to share my artwork with you!

 

The long version:

All my life, I dreamed of being an artist...

But The Shame of one little secret held me back for decades

It all started with a discovery found in a closet when I was 10 years old...

I heard my mother call my name and I hurried to close my newfound discovery and place it carefully back on the shelf where I had found it. I scrambled up off the floor and slipped out of the closet where I had been checking out this hidden treasure.

"Why were you in the closet?" my mother asked when she saw me.

"Just- looking for something," I replied, hoping I sounded a lot less guilty than I felt.

I hurried off to do the chore my mother had lined up for me, but knew I couldn't wait to slip back into the utilitarian closet under the staircase to once again sit and admire my find:

A flat cedar case with gold hinges containing a fascinating collection of small colorful tubes, old paintbrushes, an ancient pad of paper, and various other bottles that I didn't know the use of.

I had found an oil paint set that belonged to my late grandmother, Lillian. I never knew she painted, had never seen a work done by her in our home or hers when she was alive, that I could remember. But there, in the closet on a shelf attached to the rough grey concrete wall that cold air tumbled out of even in the heat of summer, sat evidence that I was related to someone who had been an artist, at some point in her life.

To say I was fascinated would be a complete understatement. You would think I had found the lair of the Keebler Elves, or a case of magical potions. But to me, the case was magical. And even though I wouldn't consider myself an artist for another 30 years, the seed was planted with the discovery of that wooden art case that smelled of piney sweet turpentine mixed with the musty scent of old treasures hidden in time.

Between age 10, when I first discovered that my grandmother had done oil painting, and age 38 (cough, cough, where I am now), life intervened. I always kept art right beside me even if I was pursuing other, more practical pursuits like I was "supposed to."

I attended college and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Child Development (a sensible, if not lucrative career, but something steady that would please my mother). But, in the only way I knew to keep my dream of art alive, I minored in 2D art, and took my first painting classes with Professor John Bott, himself a practicing artist.

I loved painting, and could get lost for hours in dreaming up paintings and mixing colors, building canvases and making frames with cheap lumber from Home Depot. But here I arrive at my source of shame, one that would rear it's head for the next 20 years. It's they very thing that, along with the deeply held belief that "Art is not a sensible career" would hold me back from my true calling time and time again. 

Not a "real" Artist

My secret?

I couldn't draw.

Oh, I tried! All the time, in fact. There was never a time when I didn't own a sketchpad or keep it close to me. And over the years when life happened (Becoming a teacher, quitting teaching, having my daughter, moving halfway across the country getting divorced), I always kept art close to me and envied people who made art their career.

But I found that I was hiding my source of shame from the world, fearing I would be ridiculed or judged because try as I did, my drawings always looked cartoonish, amateur, unprofessional. Even though I had training in drawing in college, I was so unconfident in my own abilities that it hindered me completely as an artist.

If something came out right, I thought it was a fluke and I would never be able to duplicate it.

If I attempted to teach myself a more complex drawing, I would give up in frustration.

I didn't really like abstract art, so wasn't interested in pursuing that avenue.

In my mind, a REAL artist could DRAW.

So I never considered myself a real artist. Just a wannabe.

I finally learned the Skill I was lacking

Then came the summer of 2016. I had been trying to establish a side hustle as a writer or artist (or both) in various forms since 2006. None of the required "stars aligning" had happened yet. But I found something that happened to catch my eye on one of the many artist/designer/creative entrepreneur websites and blogs I visited frequently.

It was a link to a four month online class offered by Tamara Laporte (Tam) of Willowing Arts called Ever After 2016. It was a mixed media painting course covering Fairy Tale Art taught by a variety of established artists.

I love fantasy. I love fairy tales, and stories, and everything the class offered. I took the plunge and signed up.

The first lesson was The Little Mermaid, taught by Tam. In the lessons, she gave a detailed tutorial of how to draw and paint the mermaid, and to complete a whole painting where every portion was "finished."

Suddenly, somehow, a door was unlocked for me. I finally learned how to draw faces, proportions, poses, HANDS omg hands were so hard!, and every other thing I had been so scared to draw for fear that it would reveal that I was not a REAL ARTIST.

(I also learned, in a roundabout way, that drawing doesn't necessarily make you an artist, there are plenty of working artists who don't necessarily draw).

Suddenly, I was filling sketchbooks with faces, painting portraits, and building my skills as an artist who can actually draw and feels almost confident in her ability to DRAW ALL THE THINGS.

I made more art in 2016-2017 than in the previous 10 years of my life.

And I am still drawing and painting everyday, inching closer to being a working professional artist.

But inside? Well, inside I am still a 10 year old girl who discovered a treasury of art supplies and found herself giddy with excitement -- only today, I am able to use the art supplies I have to create my own brand of magical, mysterious art.

I hope you'll join me to see what I create. And if you, too, are an artist or creative person who feels like you aren't "there" yet, hang in there. It may not happen "overnight" (nothing ever does, BTW), but if you work at your dream, I promise you'll get there, whether you take baby steps like I did, or giant leaps.

how to connect further with my art:

I create mixed media portraits and paintings that tell stories.

Using a combination of modern art and collage materials, and taking inspiration from old vintage photos from the late 1800's through the 1950's, I create portraits and mixed media art that feel both modern and timeless.

If you are interested in having me create art for you, please check out my Commissions page, which will help answer your questions.

Also, feel free to send me an email. I'll be happy to discuss your project idea with you!

artistjaimeleigh@yahoo.com

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, where I share projects in progress and finished paintings. @dieselandink

Recent Paintings and projects: