I was not growing up with a pencil in my hand. I was not one of those kids that starts to draw when they were 4 years old. It was a long journey. The one that went through a process, a life journey that art came in and out through a chain of events.
This is how it goes.
That Little Girl
I remember growing up admiring an oil landscape painting hung in our family’s living room. The artist was my parents’ friend. I was mesmerized by the large scale green tone colors of rice field terrace laid across the canvas. I remember standing in front of it many times staring at it for a long time. Thinking about it now, it was a little strange of me doing that at such a young age. I was probably 8 years old. If I can be that little girl for a brief moment, I think I had a lot of questions in my mind. I was confused about what the image was. At the time, to me, it looked like green skinny monsters laying side by side. Now I know it was a rice field terrace in West Sumatra Indonesia. And of course, at such a young age I did not know that the rice field terrace looks like that at the time. When my father told me that it was painted by Oom Hasan Basri, (a tall figure that I remember came to visit my parents often) the confusion grew in me. I was trying to imagine what ‘painting” is. Over time and through my father’s further explanation I got the sense of what actually it is. In my own mind and for the first time I finally understood what painting is. It was something big for me. I remember feeling in awe of the whole story behind the painting my father told me. I can’t grasp the fact that this tall man I knew painted this image landscape that always haunts me with curiosity at such a young age. After many stories about this painting my father told me, over time I see the painting for what it was; a beautiful green landscape painting to decorate our home. Slowly that skinny green monsters had disappeared and all I can remember is the coconut tree sticking out of the frame on the left side. That was my first encounter with “art”. And I was 8 years old and already curious about art.
Like most child, we grew up, got a job and moved out from our home. When I came back I did not see the painting so I asked my Mom about the painting. By this time my parents had moved into a new home. She said when they moved they gave most of their old furnitures including the painting to our servants who were working for us for almost 20 years. So she gave the painting to one of our servants. Because that’s what she wants. Having 3 servants, a gardener, a driver and a night watch is common in a household in Indonesia. I grew up with these people around me all the time, 24 hours a day. You probably thinking where do they live? I was very lucky to have grown up in a beautiful place in North Sumatra in an American management housing complex. My father worked for an American company as an engineer at the time. And we lived in a big Dutch colonial home that has big servants quarters in the back of our home. It has 5 small rooms side by side for the workers to live in. And has its own kitchen and bathroom too.
So back to the painting, after my mother told me what had happened to the painting, I remember there is a sense of sadness rushed in me for a few seconds. There were a lot of beautiful memories growing up in that beautiful colonial antique home of my parents; a quiet moment alone was precious knowing that “that'“ painting hanging somewhere in the room near me. It was comforting. I guess this is a repetitive moment that I still feel to this date in my own home here in the US.
From that point on, I am starting to think about how it is to actually to paint an art. The image of the Green Landscape painting I grew up with came back in my life. As a young woman, I could not figure out what it is I wanted to do just yet. Young women in Indonesia at the time was not as modern in thinking as like most women over there now. At the time young women mostly ended up getting married and live happily ever after. So that was what happened to me. I met my first husband at my job working for an American oil company. And we got married.
During the earlier year of our marriage, I was introduced to oil medium by a girlfriend of mine who happened to be an artist herself. From then on I was hooked on painting using oil. I was 30 years old.
I taught myself how to paint from a book And I paint every day.
Still, I was not serious about being an artist. It was just a hobby. A hobby that I enjoyed doing very much
Back to Art School
When I got divorced, going back to school seems a good idea. And to study “art” was like that childhood calling that I never get to pursue. I moved to New York City and enrolled myself at the Fashion Institute of Technology New York in Fine Art. I finished the 4 years Bachelor’s program and got a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Building a Career
Still, I was not thinking about being an artist. I was focusing on building a career in Manhattan, NY. After graduating from school, I immediately landed my first job as Textile Artist in a textile design company in Manhattan, NY. I remember being happy with the job. My job was to match colors and paint florals with gouache on a piece of paper. My other job was to create a “repeat” design. A “repeat” design is a must design to create when a textile design company order their bulk of fabrics overseas at a textile factory in China, India or Indonesia. It is a print design that when printed, became a long thousand yards of fabrics. I particularly enjoyed creating a “repeat design” because it was challenging and required design and drawing skill. The challenge was to design the correct placement of, let’s say florals elements, so it seamless to fit in one pattern that will repeat over and over again. In the end, it became a roll of fabrics you see in a fabric store.
By this time I can claim myself an artist because that was my title; “Textile Surface Design Artist”.
Art at a Second Chance.
Then life took a wrong turn, I suddenly became ill. I was hospitalized for 2 months for aorta repair and dissection. I was 42 years old.
My husband then my boyfriend was with me from the very beginning I got sick until I was released from the hospital. A year later we got married. It was the year of 2005.
I still had the need to work and wanted to start a career all over again. So I worked for Victoria Secret at Lounge Wear Department as Assistant Stylist for about a year. I quit the job because my husband feels that the job put a lot of stress on my health so he agreed that I should stay at home and work from there as an artist.
The illness changes my life entirely. It gave me a new perspective and a second chance in life. By this time no doubt in my mind that I want to be an artist. I wanted to paint and create art until I can not pick up the brush anymore.
I paint a lot at home but I do not know why I never get serious about showing my art. I painted behind a closed door and hung a few of my own arts in our home.
The Year is 2019
By now I basically have two jobs, as an artist and a housewife. My husband seems to be happy with my job title. He is such a socialized person. So he needs me by his side all the time. He is fully supports of what I do and always motivate and encourage me doing art and others as long as it makes me happy.
Most of my art I did at home, had evolved. From oil, to mixed media acrylic, collage acrylic, ink and now watercolor.
Is it still evolving? To be honest, I don’t know. But I do know that “my life and my art” journey had something to do within me; since I was 8 years old until now. When I was living alone and as a student in Manhattan, NY from 2001 to 2003, it became clear to me about what I want. I had planted a picture in my head. A picture of me painting at home; the one as nice and as comfortable like the one I grew up in, and with the man of my dream, surrounded by my art. And that is exactly what my life is now; a happy healthy artist and a homemaker.
Now the year is 2019. If somehow my career as an artist does not flourish in my lifetime, I certainly hope that my leaves art will become something in life after that.