, Seattle, Washington
I've been drawing animals since I was old enough to hold a crayon. Much to my mother's dismay, many of my earliest "masterpieces" were images of Bambi drawn on walls, table tops, and any other flat surface I could find. Bambi was my first love as a very young child and I spent a lot of time drawing Bambi and other deer.
Later I went through the typical horse lover phase. There were stacks of paper piled high all over my room with images of horses and related ungulates.
At the age of 13 my father bought me my own horse. This helped tremendously to improve my art. Working with the animals every day, watching their movements and learning about their behaviors, taught me a lot about horse anatomy and mannerisms. A lot of what I learned about horse anatomy and movement could be applied, with a little modification, to other ungulates such as deer, antelope, etc.
It was in my teens, while being around horses, that I first started experimenting with oil painting. At first my paitnings were fanciful such as flying horses and unicorns. But, although I grew up in the city, my father took me on frequent weekend camping trips, so my interest in nature grew stronger and gradually my paintings moved more towards nature and realism.
It's unfortunate that my parents discouraged the idea of art as a career path and, as I neared adulthood, I was strongly enouraged to seek a more "practical" subject to study in school. Art was put on the back burner as I spent many long years struggling through college, trying to find that "right" major. All my "somewhat practical" interests leaned towards natural sciences and biology, none of which was "practical" enough. I finally settled on Business Administration just to graduate and move on.
After just 6 months of working in accounting I knew it couldn't last. But I didn't know what else to do.
Then there came one of those moments where one event, one person, can change your life. My sister gave me a gift certificate to an art supply store as a birthday gift. In the card was a note saying now that I was done with college maybe I'd have more free time to get back to who I really was. I nearly broke down in tears. At that point, I knew I had to get back into art somehow, some way.
I started painting frantically and after a local gallery picked up my work and sold the originals as fast as I could paint them I was encouraged. Soon other opportunities came along, such as art publishing and book illustration deals, which encouraged me further. I eventually quit my accounting job and started painting full time.