My journey as an artist has been very unconventional. For as far as I can remember, I've always been the quietly creative type. I was the kind of kid to always have a pen and paper to either write or draw. But it hasn't been a straight line road, quite the contrary! I went from a being a building engineer, to an interior designer, to a freelance graphic designer / writer / event facilitator / social media manager / artist. There's been a lot of detours along the way where I picked up lessons and experiences that give me a unique set of skills. I thought it would be fun and timely to revisit that journey in a form of a series of blog posts to share a little more about me, and also help me connect the dots. 

My rude awakening at age 6

My pre-school class photo when I was 6. Most of the time I wasn't hard to spot in photos.

I tend to assume that most parents think that their kid's art is great. So although I used to get compliments on my artwork from my parents and their friends, it never dawned on me that I was any better than the other kid until my rude awakening when I was 6 years old. I was in pre-school and our homework was to draw the summary of a picture book we read. I remember sitting at the kitchen table at night with a pen and pencils, drawing this loch ness monster-type character and being really proud of myself for drawing it. 

The next day, I proudly handed my homework to my teacher, probably thinking I would get a good grade. But when I got my homework back, she handed me my drawing with a big fat red 0 on it. She said I got a zero because I cheated! She told me that I didn't draw my homework, but that my parents did. And that I had to redo it. It was not what I expected. I probably tried to tell her that I did it, but she didn't believe me.  I was shocked, confused, hurt and sad. She basically complimented and hurt me at the same time. The hurt was a lot stronger. I went home crying to my mom showing the rude note that she wrote in the back of my homework. Thankfully my mom quickly put her back in her place writing another letter that I had to deliver the next day in class. And the teacher apologized in another letter that I had to deliver back to my mom. There were no emails or cell phones during that time. 

That's the earliest memory I have of my journey as an artist. I learned that I potentially had something else that was different then the kids in my class, but it was not necessarily going to be appreciated,  celebrated or praised by everyone. Perhaps it played a part in shaping the road I took to become an artist. Whatever the case, it certainly shaped my understanding of how my art could be received. I continued drawing mostly for myself and kept a lot of my drawings over the years. I'll share more in Part 2. But in the mean time, you can see the life defying drawing that caused me to see myself and my art differently as I was just starting school.  

The drawing I made at age 6. Looking at it, I still most kids could draw this. Even at that age, I suspected that she didn't think a kid that looks like me could draw like this. 

The note to my parents behind the drawing which translates to "I want a drawing made by Marie-Judith alone. I want her to start again on another sheet. It's important that the sheet be of the same size" 

The apology letter from the teacher to my mom