Why did you become a painter?

Why did you become a painter?
Woman Magazine
Tokyo – 1977

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Little hand prints – baby hand prints in blue – would mysteriously appear on the walls. Still not two, I would steal into my father’s studio and play with his palette – oil paint attracted me. It still does. But, once there was a time when it didn’t.

One day at the age of seven or so, I “decided” to become an actress. It was my long childhood fantasy. Until, after years of training, while in a special drama high-school, I discovered that theatre life was not for me. And, I “decided” not to act.

But, I don’t remember “deciding” to become a painter – I just painted, as I always have – perhaps it was too natural. Then, at age 16 or 17, when people asked me the inevitable question, “What are you going to be?”, the answer inadvertently escaped from my lips, “a painter.”

So I worked as a waitress, a salesgirl, a life model . . . Later, I had my own small business making antiqued decorative wood panels for interior decorators and department stores. After all, how do you pay for oil paint and canvas? Or the rent on your own studio? How do you attain freedom to create?

At this moment, I am able to paint day and night. Even with all the anxieties, all the ups and downs, all the loneliness an artist encounters on his or her internal journey, I can’t imagine ever having lived any other kind of life. It is only when I am painting that I feel a psychic balance. It is only when I am alone in my studio painting that I feel at one with myself, at one with the world. And so I go on painting. It almost seems as though I have no choice.