I have always been an artist. As a little girl, I sold my drawings door to door in the neighborhood. A quarter? A dime? To my recollection, no one ever said no. Naturally, this emboldened me. In grade school I drew a faux camera on a folded piece of paper. I would ask one of my friends to pose and then, voila! Out came a tiny portrait. I got in big trouble with the nuns when I stubbornly doodled on my desk before wiping each one away with a little spit.
My father was a Sunday painter and after his premature death at the age of 42, our family was left with a handful of his oil paintings. We marveled at the portrait of the Pope, a praying profile in red and white. I was fascinated to see the evidence of where he had moved the ear half an inch lower.
My mother Honey created an environment that supported the arts. My eight siblings and I sang around the dining room table. We put on theatrical productions in our basement. Halloweens became performance art. Mom was a model of creativity, inventiveness, and joie de vivre.
I went to seven colleges to get my undergraduate degree. I was a bit of a gypsy for a while and moved around the United States. I loved going to school and took classes wherever and whenever I could. Finally settling down in Seattle, I went on to get my Master of Fine Art at the University of Washington.
Teaching comes naturally to me, despite my nervousness on that first day of class. I still remember it well and fondly. For the past 18 years I have taught a variety of subjects at the university level. I also honed my skill in community workshops and private lessons. It is a calling for me to share what I have learned with others.
I was fortunate to have a great mentor who taught me much of what I know about art. His name was Herman Keys.
Mr. Keys, as I always called him, taught me not only how to make art, but how to live as an artist. I remember him saying that in order to do this, I would have to give up many other things.
I cannot say he was wrong about that, but my life as an artist and a teacher has been rich and fulfilling on so many levels. When I was that little girl selling my drawings door to door, I had the notion that being an artist was something heroic, something special. I still think that.
Amy Marie D’Apice