When I was seven or eight, I needed to draw. I hoarded paper and pencils so that I could draw even if I was stuck in a bomb shelter, which seemed a possibility for a while. I drew so much that my parents enrolled my brother (also a compulsive drawer) and me in painting classes at the studio of a local artist. It was a great help for me to have something I was interested in, and it gave me some confidence.
After a few years of school and work, I realized that making even a subsistence living from my painting was unlikely. Unable to get a decent job with the bits and pieces of fine and liberal arts I’d been able to acquire, I applied and was accepted into a free training program in Electroencephalography Technology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and was hired there full time after my training. They gave artists and musicians preference because of our “pattern recognition skills”. I met my husband, a musician in a similar situation to mine there.
At first I tried to keep painting, but soon felt too tired after work to accomplish anything creative.
A year or so of making no art at all became even more unsatisfying.Enrolling in a 2D design night class helped me back into creative work. Painting didn’t seem to be possible but I drew.
My grandmother had left me some quilts; I hung them on the walls for their comfort and color. The design class work somehow turned into geometric repeat-patterns, and eventually I began to teach myself the things I should have learned from my mother and grandmother. I knew how to sew, but for the first time, I made quilts.
At first they were simple and traditional, from patterns or geometric shapes, but eventually I began to improvise on a design wall. It held my attention as painting once had. I haven’t stopped making them since.