Influences (External)

I have broken down the concept of “influences” into two categories. The first being external and the second being internal. When I think of external influences I think about things outside of myself, sometimes they are things I cannot control, while other times, I can control them. Take this example: I am driving alone in my Ford Escape. External influences cause me to wear a seatbelt, use my blinkers and follow the traffic lights and signals. I do these because they are laws that everyone has to follow while driving. Now, the ones I do have control over include: what type of music I am listening to, whether my windows are up or down, and how warm I have the truck temperature.

Other influences I may or may not see while out driving: media/advertising, where I am headed, if I pick someone up, my cell phone rings with a text or a phone call (even who it might be will affect me). We can try all we want, but we can’t always control each and every external influence.

In looking specifically at my artwork, I find quite a few external influences.

~Is my studio warm? or cold? Why does this matter you ask? As someone with chronic pain, if I’m cold, I’m not going to focus as well if at all. Being cold makes chronic pain worse, joints hurt, muscles hurt, everything aches.

~Do I have a drink? No, not alcohol! Think caffeine! I love a good cup of coffee. So, is my coffee hot? cold? I enjoy both. Is my glass or mug full? Or almost empty? Typically I have one near, so this is rather a silly question!

~What did I get in the mail today? Did I get junk mail? Or bills? Or catalogs? Mail can always change one’s attitude just by showing up in their mail box~ I enjoy getting magazines and those ads for stores I will never be able to afford, in fact, their ads are more like miniature books! I love to cut them up and use them for collage work.

~Is my internet working today? I mention this, because generally we pick it up from around us at the house. Much cheaper to go this route, but let me tell you- if you’d planned to work the day on the internet, and you find you don’t have it- it’s not pretty.

~Okay, so the internet is working… I checked my mail, pinterest, Facebook, the menagerie of other places I go… are my friends doing well? Is my family healthy? Or am I getting upsetting news?

~Depending on what semester it is, or was… has its own external influences. Do I like the professor? Do I get along with my fellow students? Do I have a ton of homework?

~I had art classes from first grade all the way through twelfth. I had the same art teacher from first – sixth, and then two from seventh until twelfth. I can tell you, that I learned very early on in elementary school to despise art class. Why you ask? The art teacher put her work on each of ours, so that in the end- they all looked the same. I hated it. I wanted my work to be my work, and to be untouched by her.

When I got to junior high and high school I had two very different teachers. I can’t even remember who I was introduced to first. I think it might have been Miss F. She was the hardest teacher. There were points where I actually thought I hated her! Why you ask? She did not let me slide on anything! She made me work- and if she didn’t think I was working hard enough, she would make me do more work, further beyond what the other students were doing. I had to work my butt off to get an A from her. She knew I could do the work, and pushed me. The other  art teacher Mrs. C. I adored. She basically let me work at my own pace, and in any direction I wanted. If I didn’t like a project she even let me take it a different direction. I had a lot of fun with her, and though I learned a lot, I learned much more from Miss F.

~My grandfather (John T.) taught me the art of taking black and white photographs, and how to develop them the summer I was 10 years old. He would give me an assignment, a hand rolled film canister and the Nikon F with a 50mm lens that he’d given me to use and send me off. I loved coming back to the dark room, watching those images come up on the paper while it floated in a tray of developer. I always got such a thrill to see them come up. It is actually a pretty wild experience. One moment not there, the next moment, there it is!

~When I was about 15 years old, I was given the opportunity to participate in a Summer Scholars/Arts Program at the University of Rochester. I spent two weeks on their campus with other students my age. I took two courses. One of them was an oil painting class taught by a Russian painter. I have no recollection of what the other course was… Anyhow. We started out with just black and white paint on a blank canvas. It was my first experience of being on a stretched canvas and with oil paints. We each had an easel and our own palette and place around this still life set up in the middle of the room. If I remember correctly it had a couple different sized cylindrical containers, a glass bottle, and a flower of some sort that were all on a draped cloth. At the end of the painting we had to add in a touch of color. It was a fun assignment. The second week we had to bring with us a black and white photograph. We learned how to enlarge it, sketch it out on our canvas and then paint it. I did a picture of myself still crossed eyed at 6 months old.

~By the time I made it through high school, I had taken every single art course offered. A couple, I even took twice. If I had a study hall, or a bit of time after school before sports, you’d find me in one of the two art rooms as well. I was always happiest when I was surrounded by art and supplies that were in hand to use at my very whim.

~The first college I attended was GCC in Batavia NY. I was in a theatre technology program. I learned how to do the behind the scenes stuff for plays, and I took acting classes and dance. I worked as House Director my second semester and loved it.

During my Bryant and Stratton (Rochester, NY)experience, I learned some basic web design, as well as creating fonts, and putting together brochures, pamphlets and posters. We also created logos. It was there that I earned my AOS in Graphic Design.

I attended MCC in Rochester NY for about 12 credits to get my full associates degree, and then applied to Nazareth College. At MCC I took several drawing classes. My professor loved what he did, and had a great time with us. It was the first time I ever worked on paper that was 24×32 or larger. Working so large was scary at first, but now, I love it.

I was a Nazareth as an undergrad for just a year. I only took two classes in the arts, and they were Photography 1 and 2. I thought it’d be great to brush up on my darkroom skills. I had a great time, and for the first time was asked why I was not in a photographic career. My response was, “oh, it’s just a hobby- it’s what my grandfather does.” Well, with a bit of a shove I applied to RIT without telling anyone. My grandfather (John T.) had started the Biomedical Photographic Communications program and I didn’t want anyone to know I applied in case I wasn’t accepted. I was! I couldn’t believe it!!

I was at RIT in Rochester NY for about three years. It was the hardest program I had ever been in. I learned so much, from both the professors, and my fellow classmates. I graduated with my Bachelors of Arts in BPC in May of 2009.

All of these experiences have brought me to where I am today. Each person I met, words they said, activities I participated in, they all were influences, each and every one.


Somewhere in my discussions, I believe it might even have been with Dr. C, religion is another influence I had not thought of, and yet it was so obvious when the topic came up. I was born into a Baha’i family. I am considered to be third generation Baha’i. We will be celebrating Ayyam-i-Ha at the end of this month. I’ll share more on it later, but briefly need to share that religion for most people, or perhaps the lack of religion impacts our lives. I grew up with different holidays than my friends. I attended Feasts, Holy days, Sunday School, potluck dinners, and had many interracial friends to grow up with.

If you want to know more about the Baha’i Faith you can find lots of information on the web, I have one to suggest however, as it is the official website here in the United States. If you are out of the US, it has links that can take you to your country of origin.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Patricia
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 19:28:11

    Amazing to have such an interesting experience – printing your own photographs – at only 10 years old! No wonder you are still fascinated with photography today.


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