What is your art form / what medium do you use?
Music, creative writing, theatre, and various visual arts have long vied for the title of my primary art form. Voice, guitar, piano, accordion, songwriting, composition have led the musical charge. A little dance and choreography in there as well. Poems, journals, essays, and plays have carried my writing. In visual arts, I’ve pursued silversmithing, carving, fine woodworking, inlay and design, pen and ink drawings. I dabble in graphic arts as well.
At what age did you discover you loved your art medium, and at what age did you realize you had a talent?
Many extraordinary opportunities to employ and enhance my artistic leanings have fortunately come my way. From the discovery of my high school silversmithing class, to invitations to play with various performers, to meeting my life partner Luke Wilson, even to my 20-year career as a K-12 music and theatre specialist, I’ve trusted my instincts, and pursued what seemed most interesting to me at the time.
Like all children, I loved music. Singing, songwriting, and composing on piano were early occupations. The only encouragement I seemed to require was having someone appear to enjoy what I was doing. I’m still like that. At age 11, I fell in love with guitar, which led me to many genres of music and numerous bands. Much later in life, accordion took my fancy. My quartet of the last nearly ten years, Beaucoup Chapeaux, is the manifestation of that passion. We’ve recorded two albums, traveled many miles, and performed nearly 700 concerts together.
What is your creative process?
I’m primarily self-taught – meaning lots of observation, listening, research, and practice. I’ve also had some great mentors. About the time I turned 40, busy teaching, raising two young sons, and feeling artistically frustrated, a mentor offered me this suggestion: Whenever I had an idea, no matter how insignificant it seemed, ignore the inner critic and make a quick note before it vanished. When I finally had some time to develop an idea, I would not have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. I would have a treasure trove of ideas waiting to be rediscovered.
This concept has been a boon for me. At night, it means getting up out of bed and scratching enough words or musical notes on to paper to jog my memory in the morning. While driving, I pull off the road asap and record a voice memo. This practice not only expanded my artistic output, but my health and sense of well being dramatically improved in tandem.
With child rearing as well as my teaching career now, for the most part, behind me, the creative process is easier to keep rolling. I work four or five hours each day. There are set days for band rehearsals, and a few hours are set aside each week to conduct the business side of music. I’ve recorded six albums of wildly diverse music at Bruce Wheelock’s Flying Whale Recording Studio in Grass Valley.
As to creative writing, if I like something I’ve written, I put in up on my WordPress site. A few of my essays have made it onto the online magazine 2Paragraphs. I’m always working on something.
What is the art project or piece you are most proud of?
I am equally proud of every project and piece I’ve ever done. But if I have to choose, I would say… me. I am the project I am most proud of. As every artist knows, it’s not easy being one. Since I was 11 years old, I’ve stuck to it, and while at times I’ve felt shaky about the clarity or value of my artistic vision, or how to pay the rent…I’ve just kept going.
What do you love best about the art community in our county?
To live in Nevada County, with so many gifted artists and musicians, many of whom I’ve worked and collaborated with, and all of whom have inspired me, I find nothing short of phenomenal.
Name two Nevada County artists whose work you admire, and why.
My number one admired artist in Nevada County is Luke Wilson, my husband and musical partner of 40 years. When I met Luke in Calgary, Alberta, he was making his living as a musician and luthier, and has determinedly continued to do so, the last 30 of those years in Nevada County. For his dedication to his artistic pursuits, while also managing to do a great job helping raise our sons and being at the same time an incredible support to me, I have only the deepest admiration.
My second choice has to be two. But they are often like one: my two other brilliant Beaucoup Chapeaux bandmates (Luke is the other), Murray Campbell, and Randy McKean. Their dedication and love for making music, and their impressive abilities to do so, never fail to amaze, amuse, or astound me… and frequently all three.
What is your current or next art venture?
My current projects include: a new recording of original songs and music; an essay on California’s natural water systems; getting as French as possible in preparation for Beaucoup Chapeaux’s upcoming performances in September at Malakoff State Parks’ French Connection Festival and Music in the Mountains’ fundraising event, “Paris By Night”, and last but not least; designing and implementing an inlay for a guitar Luke is building.