As an artist I always feel the need to grow with my art and find a subject that resonates deep in my soul. I've found this with my MAD Wonderland, artivist collection. It's all about our natural world created through a fantasy land in my mind. I get up every morning, excited and invigorated to start painting, I haven't felt this way in as long as I can remember. I can always paint something, and never get artists block, but something has been missing, and I finally realized why.
I used to use my art as a means of escape, and I mean that literally. I was in an abusive relationship for a very long time, and my art was the only place I could get away from the abuse...most of the time. But, only because it was a source of income for the relationship and my abuser "allowed it". So, I painted to escape and to make money, because it provided the means to be free, to just be myself and follow my passion, (and a small bit of financial security). Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed the painting process, and always will no matter what, I HAVE to paint as it's a huge part of who I am as a person. But, the "why" I painted was skewed from just the pure joy of it to having to survive. I look back on that period of time in my life and those paintings as having saved my life in so many ways, but mostly mentally and emotionally. Art was my escape...but now it's me, the artist, back to just painting whatever I want, for just the absolute pure joy that it gives me. Yes, I still make a living with my art, and always will as it allows me to be able to paint, and to share my joy of art with all of you and support conservation awareness.
It's only recently that I even admitted to myself that my art was a form of escapism for me. Recognizing this and allowing it to rest in the past, has helped me to separate that part of my life from my current art and get back to creating for the absolute pure enjoyment of it, I feel freed from chains of the past that have always held me back, but no longer.
I first discovered my MAD Wonderland series the end of 2018, when I created four huge paintings for a Miami Art Basel charity auction event. My daughter had worked with the conservation company Re:wild and set it up for me to offer my art at the event, with all proceeds going to help conservation efforts around the world. I've always loved nature and feel a close affinity to it having grown up in the wilds of Alaska, so I jumped at the opportunity to give back through my art. I wanted to create art with a fun, uplifting vibe centered around the beauty of our natural world. Was thrilled when all four paintings sold, even had Leonardo Dicaprio bidding on my paintings!! He is the cofounder of Re:wild and does amazing conservation work.
When I was painting these I felt so inspired and motivated to create more, and I did paint several animal/nature paintings in this style over the next couple of years; then I started to fall back into old habits of painting the art I always had. But, I felt something was missing and looked fondly at the MAD Wonderland paintings and wanted to create more of them, but something was holding me back. I realized it was the old chains, what was familiar, kept me rooted in place, and instead of moving forward and challenging myself as an artist, I gave in to what was quick and easy.
Normally my abstracts and landscapes only take an hour or so to paint and I love the feeling of seeing something come to fruition so quickly and can move on to the next painting to see what I can come up with next. The MAD Wonderland paintings however take me several days to complete because of the detail that is in them, and this was just not what I was used to and it kinda scared me, haha. But, this year I wanted to commit myself to stepping outside of my comfort zone, so I started a blue Macaw painting in January with lots of detail, and elements I had never painted before, like the bubbles you see in the painting. I didn't finish it until May...why, because I was still holding back, not allowing myself to just freely delve into my fantasy world of nature and animals, and who I am as an artist. Old habits were dying hard, but then one day I made myself just start on the painting, not let fear control me any longer, and be immersed by the art, and myself as an artist...being true to who I am. All the past hang ups and fears just melted away. This was probably the most liberating moment for me as an artist, it opened up the flood gates to finally just feel the art on a soul level, and embrace who I truly am as an artist. I've moved beyond a past that no longer serves me, and moving into a future of beautiful, inspiring and uplifting art that gives me purpose and dreams for a better future, for myself and this world we call home ~ through my MAD Wonderland fantasy land.
15% of the proceeds of all MAD Wonderland original paintings will be donated to Re:wild (formerly know as Global Wildlife Conservation), an organization I have collaborated with, and continue to contribute to. "We believe that together, we can protect and restore those ecosystems critical to the health of our planet—from the Amazon to Australia and from Borneo to our own backyards. We are excited to embark on this journey, because we believe that, together, we can rewild our world.." (Co-founded by Leonardo Dicaprio.)