Most artists are born with what they desire to paint, draw or create hidden within. Some artists spend their life trying to clearly hear their Vision speak.
For me, my Vision started talking to me when I was little so it never really gave me a chance to be anything other than a painter. At times, much to the frustration of my family I think.
As such, I have been drawing and painting people and their lives for as long as I can remember. I just happen to love people and portraiture. I’m grateful for the gift. My friends and family haven’t always understood.
Why would they? After all, it was my Vision!
The Vision came into focus in 1990. While visiting a friend in Chicago, I made a trip to the The Art Institute of Chicago. As I strolled into a little side room, I was drawn to a painting. The painting, entitled “The Trap Sprung,” mesmerized me. I was drawn to it from across the room. As I walked up to the painting my Voice constantly whispered to me to get closer. I was drawn to it because of the subject matter and beauty of it.
My Voice pushed me. It tugged me. It pulled me.
While admiring the painting I became intrigued by the artist – William Sidney Mount.
Mount is my maiden name – an uncommon name. And in Minnesota, Mount is an extremely uncommon name. Could this artist possibly be a relative of mine?
This opened the door and I stumbled down a genealogical rabbit hole.
I gathered all the info I could from immediate family. My dad sent me to a cousin that had some more information she found accidentally. They knew of our family line and had records going back even farther. I learned the Mount family line arrived to the U.S. in 1660 from England and settled in Long Island. As such, they were some of the first settlers in the colonies making it simpler to follow my family line. George Mount of Monmouth England was the first to arrive.
Two generations later came William Sidney Mount’s family line.
Mount was an important artist in the Hudson River School movement. He started out being a sign painter, painted historical portraits and life and scenery of Long Island. He was one of the first artists to paint positive images of African-Americans at work and play.
He would have been a cousin to my family line. He never married nor had any children of his own.
Artists! We are our own band!
Looking at his work and comparing it to my interests and work and I understood then what I should paint. That is when I understood what my Vision was preparing me for my whole life. My Vision knew me better than I knew myself. After all, if William Sidney Mount was any indication, my Vision had been speaking to members of my family since at least the early 19th century. I am very grateful for my Vision patiently waiting for me to listen and preparing me for my life.
Since then I have been working with vintage photography capturing typical scenes and daily life along the upper Mississippi River and across the Midwest.
Most of the images I use come from known sources, meaning I know the stories and history of each picture. Some come from my own family but many others have been donated to me by people with the same passion for history and vintage photography I have.
I am grateful for people’s willingness to share their collection, family history and stories. Often they will come to my art fair booth and linger for a bit sharing a laugh, a story and sometimes a cry over one of my paintings.
That is the gift of fine art. It reminds. It touches. It moves.
This is the gift of my Vision too. It reminds me. It touches me. It moves me. All I had to do was listen.