Born from seemingly insignificant seeds to paint for dreamers.
"Get into the real world!"
yelled my mom from our trailer's narrow hallway. We were near the spot where I fell through the rotten floor and found a possum hiding behind the toaster.
Despite being ten at the time, I refused to inherit her simplistic views. Instead, external circumstances wouldn't limit my life, and I kept dreaming.
My upbringing was challenging because I grew up as a farmer and developed arthritis before middle school. Additionally, life was difficult because my dad drank 12 beers daily, and my mom defended his abuse.
As a 13-year-old with damage, my grandparents began raising me. But each time my Grandpa's lungs collapsed, my grades collapsed.
My Grandpa's death was devastating...
like the loss of a true parent. In tears, I wondered, "How can this negative moment become the best thing that's ever happened to me?"
That's when I noticed he spelled "hammer" wrong on his toolbox TWICE due to his lack of formal education. Yet, he taught himself how to build a pool complete with a filtration system, among other contraptions.
With no prior plans, I started teaching myself how to paint in honor of his ability to troubleshoot problems without a teacher.
At the time, I was studying Human Biology, intending to become a doctor. The reason I chose art was to balance out science classes and test what happens.
For five years...
I woke up at 5:00 AM to paint before work despite selling nothing. Six cups of coffee each morning wasn't enough to eliminate feelings of tiredness. Moreover, it was a frustrating period because I had grand ideas and no skills to bring them to life.
For the first three years, I destroyed my work and hid botched paintings in the closet. Then, being excluded by almost 100 galleries reinforced my sense of being a failure. Yet, small steps make significant changes.
In addition, I had a profound sense painting would lead to places more spectacular than one could ever imagine.
Since then, I've gone from hiding my work in the closet to having over 25,000 people see my public art daily!
To create culture, inventing novel ideas requires a sense of reality that's not the default setting. For example, as artist relief grants were issued during the pandemic, I declined a stable job in Alzheimer's research with all its privileges to paint.
COVID-19 wasn't an obstacle but a test of mental strength to be accepted because success during this period marks an ability to overcome future crises. My grit came from knowing wins or losses start from within.
When I started making murals, my dad said, "you went to college, and now you're painting walls!?"
My mom exclaimed, "get a job!" without realizing this was a job.
Self-belief means having the courage to walk your path, even when others paint it as a horrible nightmare.