I have had an interest in the visual arts since I was a kid. My father taught us a lot about art by sharing his own interests in many art mediums, such as clay, silk screen, drawing, painting, and photography. He got his art degree from The CIA (Cleveland Institute of Art), http://www.cia.edu/
One of my brothers also graduated from there. My sister studied commercial art and ended up retiring from The Cleveland State University's Publication Department. I hope you get a chance to see some of their work. During the time my father was employed with Sherwin Williams Company, he painted a large winter landscape with house paint that he was testing. It is quite a picture.
At any rate these represent my early influences. I've taken some classes in high school, college, and kept my hand in art making off and on since childhood. I took a long break and spent a long time studying and playing music, starting with folk and blues and moving into jazz a little bit. My main instrument was the harmonica (harmonicas). I dabbled in guitar, piano, tried saxophone for a short period of time.
Since about 2004, I have participated in Naropa University's Community Art Studio (http://tinyurl.com/Naropa-U-CAS). Here is a quote from the Naropa University web page about their Community Art Studio, from their Mission Statement.
'One week after 9/11, the Naropa Community Art Studio within the Art Therapy program
was created with the intention of a curriculum-driven cultivation of the socially engaged
art therapist. During a studio practicum in the first year, students learn how to design,
create and finance a community-based studio.'
'The guiding vision behind this long-term project has been to provide a safe place for
various marginalized members of the Boulder community to gather and create art together.
We have tried to attract people who would not have access to a large studio space or direct
contact with the humanizing practice of engaging in creative, artistic behavior in community.'
Through this Community Art Studio environment, my love for visual art grew and took hold of my heart and it won't let go. Participation in the studio, with the group of people, many of whom started with me around 2004, is now a life affirming habit that I cannot seem to do without.
I have experienced a spontaneous occupational art therapy from my own activity in simply making art. Perhaps this is my miracle, as I write this, I wonder.