Celebrating My Art Journey

I wasn't always an artist...and I surely wasn't born with the technique I use daily. Sure, there's a certain affinity a person can be born with. You can have an eye for color, shapes, and sometimes yes, had a God-given ability to render an object photo-realistic. Not me! I've had a crazy, roller-coaster ride to get where I am now.

I wanted to share with you my journey, to help you understand that artists hone their talents; that by giving yourself to practice daily (or weekly, or however frequently you can find the time) that you can improve yourself and achieve the goals you thought were only dreams.

Here's a quick timeline of my life (from an art perspective) -

Age 5: create marker drawings of me sitting on the toilet, pooping and peeing. The view is my bum from a toilet bowl's view. I'd call this quite avant garde for a kindergartner, but my mother promptly tore it up and pronounced it "dirty." I learned to not share my more mature content with her.

Age 8: Doodle everywhere and especially whenever I was made to sit and listen. Church, school, during a movie, in the car (which promptly made me carsick...)

Age 13: Get totally obsessed with sewing and clothes and try to decide between becoming a fashion designer or a costume designer. Sketch clothes on faceless sketched models constantly. I go the costume route - and watch everything in historical period film genre with an eagle eye, often re-creating costumes down to the tiniest detail.

Age 18: Attend college for Costume Design. Have an OK time, learn a lot from my professor, but ultimately become bored and take on Musical Theatre because I'd secretly wanted to do that all along. Turns out I was pretty decent at that, but didn't have the stomach for the theatre life.

Age 22: Graduate college and run away to South Korea to teach English as a second language. The BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE, no joke. I am safe, peaceful, and makin' moneh.

Age: 23: Move back to the US to find a "real job." There aren't any (thanks, Economic Crisis of 2008, for your residual effects on us Millennials.)

Age 24: Back to Korea a second time. Meet and marry Hwang Inwook, the best guy I ever met. Keep teaching English for lack of any other real skills.

Age 25: Move to Canada, fail, move to the US, get my work permit for Korea, move to Korea a third time. Keep teaching English.

Age 26: Get depressed. Need a creative outlet - remember that I enjoyed drawing, so maybe I'd like painting? Pick up some watercolors and paper at a nearby art store and find that I'm terrible! I laugh at my attempt, but resolve to improve and paint daily.

Age 27: Move back to the US. Heal from my depression. Keep painting daily. Decide to make it my career.

Age 28+: Start a small business as a freelance artist, go at it blindly, since I have no idea how to run a business, but have some semblance of success and decide to keep going...

Which brings us to now. As you can tell, my art "career" has been one that has spanned my life, but not one that I diligently worked at. I remember being that 5-year-old, drawing obscene toilet art, and imagining myself as an adult, working as an artist (complete with beret, painting easel and palette, with a brush and oil paint in hand.) My little self knew in my heart of hearts that making art for a living would ultimately be my calling and bring me joy.

Here I am, having only a few years of painting experience, and if you search back far enough on my Instagram, you'll see how truly awful I was. I tell you that to say - YOU CAN DO IT. If you want to change your career, if you want to simply pick up a hobby...change can happen and it can be so, so good.

I hope your path continues to give you surprises, as mine did, like running away to another country and drawing obscene things, because hey - art imitates life, even if it's from the toilet bowl.

Marni Manning - Artist

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