What inspires me to create?

Hope, 12" h x 16" w, original soft pastel painting


Great question. And one to which I didn't have the answer for a long, long, long time. You see, I didn't think I was a creative person. I just did stuff. Doesn't everyone? So when I started painting, and investing in education and materials to do it well, I secretly thought it was frivolous. I couldn't have been more wrong.


I believe we go through multiple journeys in our lifetime. Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey"  describes what many of us experience. The thing is, I think we go through multiple Hero's Journeys in our lifetimes. That we have multiple purposes depending on where we are in our lives. Some "returns" turn out better than others. But the good news is, we can always start anew.


Like you, I've had my share of challenges. It's amazing, when I look back now, at how interconnected my journeys were. Each one happened for a reason and led me to where I am today. I'll hit the highlights because they're the dots I've now connected. Today I feel unstoppable. I'm ready, able, and passionate about fulfilling what I feel is my current raison d'être.


Think of these as random snapshots in an old, well-worn photograph album: sailing racing yachts with my papa, learning to speak multiple languages, traveling all over the world, working for the biggest brands in publishing and high tech, starting different businesses, studying drawing and painting at phenomenal museums, living overseas, diving all over the world and doing underwater photography, becoming enraged whenever I see any animal being abused, being enraptured by Jacques Cousteau's Nat Geo TV specials, encountering wild dolphins, lemon-tipped sharks, seahorses, moray eels, and sea turtles while diving, burning out three times (hospitalized once due to it), beating cancer, leading visitor tours at a marine research laboratory. ALWAYS, the ocean has been the backdrop to my life. 


I've only ever spent three years (in total) living more than an hour from the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. And each time as lovely as those places were, I felt homesick. I missed the smell of salt air, "popping" kelp, walks on the beach, tidepooling, the sea birds crying, crabs scuttling, all the mammals, and the waves. Oh! The WAVES! Whenever I don't see and hear the ocean for days or weeks at a time, I go a little crazy. (Just ask my closest friends and family). I simply cease to exist. I can't breathe. It's only when I'm near the ocean that I feel truly alive. 


My love of art was like the piece of thread that held my life together. I was always doodling, sketching, visiting art museums, and galleries, buying and gifting art. When I first seriously started painting again, I found myself pulled once more to the ocean. Living in Santa Cruz at the northern tip of the Monterey Bay, I became spoiled with the stunning views every where I turned. For nigh on 20 years, every weekend I'd head out painting en plein air. Didn't matter what weather. Even if it meant sketching in my car because it was raining or too windy to set up my easel, out I went. Sometimes with other artists, but mostly alone.


Painting seascapes — the ocean in all its moods, in all seasons, at all times of the day was my obsession. It still is. Now I'm adding the critters above and below the sea into my works. I adore all of them. Goofy sea lions, sleek harbor seals, majestic blue whales, playful dolphins, mischievous sea otters, sly orcas, delicate seahorses, beautiful sea stars, shy octopuses, calm sea turtles, curious crabs, tiny nudibranchs, colorful fish of all varieties, menacing sharks, graceful seaweeds and kelp forests, elegant sea fans, and stunning corals. And that's just to start. There's a whole world beneath the sea that is, simply, profound.


While diving I captured some of that life on film — back before digital cameras existed — all around the world. It took my breath away. I couldn't get enough. And sadly, I saw so much pollution even then. Today, it's beyond horrific. We've treated our beautiful, glorious oceans like one giant cesspool. Into them we've dumped, and continue to dump, not just plastics and oils, but all kinds of human-created waste.


"Why am I here? Now? How do I give back? Why am I so obsessed with painting?" These questions plagued me because I had no clarity. So as I began to flip through that mental and physical photo album, it dawned on me that what I kept losing sleep over and was most passionate about, was what was happening to the oceans and the lives within it. I had long felt that way, but my passion lay buried while trying to survive multiple personal crises. These feelings have been re-surfacing without my even realizing it. I needed to find my way of giving back, to help restore our oceans to health. To help save and protect the life that is so precious within it. 


THAT'S WHY I CREATE. To share the beauty of the sea — to inspire folks like you and me to fight to protect them and all the life that dwells within. NOTHING would bring me greater joy than to see our oceans beautiful, clean, pristine, with sea life thriving again and humanity living in harmony with them. This tiny blue and green sphere we live on, is a miracle. It's an oasis in our solar system and maybe even our galaxy. We don't stop often enough to reflect on the fact that if the oceans die, humanity dies. The oceans are our life support system — our lungs, our climate control system, and our primary food source.

THIS is why I paint. THIS is why I wake up every day.


I have always donated to various marine conservation and animal protection groups for more than 20 years. Now I am pledging to give 10% of all my art sales, every year, to these same worthy non-profits. I hope you'll join me in this mission in whatever way you can. Buy my art, get involved in ocean and beach clean-up days, volunteer at your local marine conservation group, vote for politicians and legislation that protect our oceans, stop buying water in plastic bottles — whatever you can do.


Give back to the oceans in any meaningful way you choose. It's good for your heart. And the oceans and critters within will be ever so grateful. Let's leave the world a better place than we found it.