From an early age, people respected my ability to draw pictures. Or at least they were supportive of my love for drawing.

When I was in Jr. High, I could attract a crowd of other students by drawing animals in the library. They’d call out “can you draw a squirrel?” Or “Draw me a horse!” And I would. Anything they asked for, I drew, and gave them the drawings.

That was my role. The one thing I was good at. That, and making people laugh.

I didn’t think much of it. It came so easy to me. But what a wonderful thing, looking back. I wasn’t good at sports, or math, or English, or paying attention. But I was known as the kid who could draw.

“How do you know where to start?” They asked questions, but I just drew. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know how not to.

As I got older, I always drew for fun. For myself. For a friend or two. But I sort of froze up when I tried to do something for a show or “serious art” for a person’s wall.

Expectation killed the fun… Fundamentally changed my approach and my attitude.

I really had to learn to let go. Like when I made art with my brother. There were no rules. There was no judgement or expectation. Just a lot of laughter and joy. Whether we were writing stories or poems, painting our bodies, taking photographs or any other creative whim, we had FUN, and those remain timeless pieces of art.

I think my brother “gets me” in a way that few can. We were right there together in the creative flow, playing and laughing. And this was when we were adults, by the way.

Our Boundary Waters photos were like no one else’s. We can still recite the poems we wrote there.

Eventually, I was able to let go of that baggage and have fun painting in my studio. Especially after my daughter was born.

Acceptance by other people is not something I strive for, as odd as that may sound. If I paint for acceptance, you can be sure no one will like it. So I do me. My fish are in the treetops. Don’t like it? Look somewhere else. Find what you love.

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