Many thanks to Jenny Doh for featuring me as one of her Guest Curators for this week's Art Saves. If you haven't been there yet be sure to visit her blog and her new art community, Crescendoh. I believe most artists, today owe Jenny a big "Thank You" for all she has done for the creative world. As the past Editor in Chief for many of the Sommerset Studios magazines she helped to change the way we create art and express ourselves. She continues to do so with Crescendoh. Thank You, Jenny! I hope you will check back this week to see other artists that I have grown to love and hold as dear friends! They will also be featured in Crescendoh's Daily Archives.
Fifteen years ago I took a trip out West that changed my life. It was a time in my life when the ground itself seemed to be giving way. I had questions about my marriage, my children were all moving in different directions, and I wondered what the future held for me. Deciding some time alone was in order, I found myself drawn to the western United States. The rocks, canyons and caves held the images that Native American Indians created centuries ago. Those petroglyphs tell the ageless stories of their spirit and truths and have been passed to us through time. It moved me deeply that these simple images were a part of their everyday life stories. I felt connected to some universal force that made me feel alive.
Today we create images on subway walls, streets, fences, magazines and books. There are images everywhere we look. We still strive to tell our stories through art. In our cities we may call it graffiti, advertisement, or decoration. In our museums we call them paintings, sculpture or jewelry. In our souls we call it art. Art is story telling. Art is a process. In my art I have tried to tell my stories by linking images of my heart with the images of the past and present.
I have always thought in images. Perhaps that is because my father ran an office supply and printing company. The endless possibilities of pens, papers, paints, and inks captivated my imagination for as long as I can remember. It was a place of great wonder. I walked the aisles, touching the crayons and paint tubes, dreaming about all the creative possibilities. The smell of newly printed ink on paper and the sound of the printing presses always lured me to the back rooms where the printers did their work. I loved watching the images magically appear with each pass of the press arm. I learned to love the power of images, color and pattern. I always knew I wanted to create art.
After school I’d sit among the stacks of picture books at the Public Library and get lost in the magic of illustrations. I loved the drawings of artists like Palmer Cox, Harrison Cady, Hilary Knight, Amy Millicent Sowerby, Beatrix Potter, Cicely Mary Barker, Bessie Pease Gutmann, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Ruth Mary Hallock, Margaret W. Tarrant, Tasha Tudor and many others. I spent most of my free time drawing. My parents were very supportive since I was otherwise a very active child who was only quiet when drawing or looking at illustrations. I was a child full of questions, possibilities, and ideas who had problems learning. I learned visually and I always knew that if I continued my education it would be in the field of art. I went to college thinking I would go into commercial art and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Art. I married, raised a family and I never stopped drawing with and without my children.
My work was family oriented and sold throughout the United States and Canadian gift markets. It was featured on the covers of Leisure Arts and Celebrations. I created my own studio and named it Rohling Studios. This provided me with a physical place where I could bring my creativity to life. My biggest dream was to do a children’s book that helped children to believe in themselves. I am fortunate to say my dreams became reality when I illustrated Just Because I Am: A Child’s Book of Affirmation, and We Can Get Along: A Child’s Book of Choices. The books led to my work being published by the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse. All this gave me impetus to get a Masters Degree in Social Work and I now work as a psychotherapist in Racine, Wisconsin.
My work now includes speaking, training, and doing workshops on a variety of topics including healing and art. I have the best of both worlds. I am an artist and I help people to overcome their rough patches in life. I still find my quiet time takes me to the drawing board, which will always be my first love. I am still that kid who is full of questions, possibilities, and ideas. Most of all…I enjoy working with people and helping them to tap into their own creativity. I like watching the process in my clients and seeing how art moves them and how that process awakens in them a stronger sense of self. Do I believe that “Art Saves”? You bet I do!