Stepping Out

"When I start to draw, or paint, or sculpt, it's like I'm taking a step out of this world and entering a new universe. There, my imagination is boundless, and the unexplored is infinite." ~Johanna Tomsick I have been privileged to have spent the last two decades working with an amazing community of people at Beaumont School in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. It is my home away from home, the place where my studio lives. In exchange for an incredible working environment, I get to work with young women coming up in the world with the eyes of an artist. I work primarily with high school juniors, and occasionally the seniors, getting them started with painting in oil, pastel, charcoal or pencil. We work with understanding these mediums via different projects including portraiture, the still life, and the landscape. Along the way, I also try to answer their questions about what I'm doing and have done, as honestly as I possibly can. Deciding upon a life in art is not an easy thing as I always say, but it's definitely a fulfilling life. What I hope to impress, is more of an appreciation of what a creative  life means, no matter what path they choose to follow. Being 'an artist' can span all career choices.

I have been touched by every single student, in some way. Whether it be their shy smiles, their quirky and funny ways, their heart, their work ethic,  or with a few, an uncanny ability to truly grasp the path. Johanna Tomsick is one of these. She embodies what I hope every adult will come to know about the wonder of creativity - in their lifetime. Already she gets it, at her young age. It took me...how long? Scratch that. I'm still trying to figure it all out.

Here is a portion of her personal statement written as part of her final senior project:

"Nothing gives me satisfaction quite like art. People call me a perfectionist when it comes to drawing and painting, but it's because I relish the process that I can expend so much time and energy on the little details which, to other people's eyes, seem insignificant, but to me are jewels of discovery.  For a long time, I've used art as a medium through which to explore the surreal, the infinite, and the unknowable.  There are things about our world -the origin of life, the stars, and universe, emotion, and God- which captivate me with so much force, I can't resist discovering them.  Art is like a metaphysical atlas that helps me make some sense of the unknown, and what's more is that I can share my wonder with every person who looks at my artwork."

How often do we as adults get bogged down in the mire of life in all kinds of ways?  Even those of us who have created our careers in art, yes, the career choice that lots of people question and can indeed trip us up with it's challenges. So what I say!  Those challenges are one little step along the path. Yes, they can become boulders, but only if we let them.

For me, the process is the magic.

The end result is what I share with others. The true gift to myself,  is in the doing. The learning, the expansiveness that happens in the making makes it possible for me to step back and share it all, because I FELT IT. Then, I can let them all go..

So back to Johanna... And did I mention she has some skills?

Johanna's portrait of her brother in oil.

"Finding Neverland" Johanna's final work at Beaumont. Mixed media.

"..I believe that I can change the world by creating art, or at the very least, change my outlook on the world." ~JT.

Johanna Tomsick

And truly, all change we can ever hope for, starts with us.

Thank you for the reminder Johanna. I need lots of them, every day. All best to you and  your wonderful class of 2013.