As a child I remember adults telling me that I was “artistic” and an “animal lover.” These labels became a part of my identity (though I did not really comprehend what they meant until many years later). I felt content and joyous in the presence of nature and animals. And expressing those feelings through creative activities seemed so natural. Didn’t everyone feel and act that way? Soon I realized that people played many different roles. The more I observed of the world, the more I started to find comfort in my labels.
Creating art can be both tedious and exhilarating. Inspiration may sometimes become overshadowed by trying to achieve good technique, pleasing people and the challenges of making a living. Ultimately, I desired my artwork to have some special meaning and purpose… not to just be decoration.
For years I had admired animals. I was vegetarian for 30 years, worked with a veterinarian and animal communicator, was a caretaker, and photographed and painted them. But my experiences had been limited to the usual companion animals and zoo exhibits. In 2010, my life was jolted by unsettling events and relocation, but with it came some wonderful gifts. In my new situation, I had the privilege of getting to know “farm animals.” With them, I feel so completely at home, so peaceful and more inspired than ever. My curiosity and awareness grew – urging me to face and consider their experiences… and to change my choices and habits. In 2012, I became “vegan” and embraced the role of sharing my art, photography and graphic art skills to advocate for all sentient beings. With my new label, I had finally graduated into genuinely embodying the true meaning of “animal lover.”
This was the turning point in my creative path. My art seemed to quickly evolve as I more deeply connected with my inspiration. Creations were not only about how animals looked – but how they felt and what they had to say. Being a “vegan artist” is more than choosing cruelty-free supplies, eating plants and painting animals. For me, it is about expressing the love I feel for life. It’s about honoring and celebrating my relationships with my Earth Family. It’s about making art that communicates on a heart level – hopefully inspiring others to see, know and consider animals in new loving ways – building new traditions based on respect, kindness and compassion.
Special thanks to Butterflies Katz for including this in her compelling essay collection highlighting diversity amongst vegans:
I’M A VEGAN: One Movement, Many Voices.