Friday, February 26, 2010

Reinventing Yourself as an Artist

If you know me, then you know I've re-created myself many times over as an artist. Originally, I was a cartoonist where I grew up in my father's art studio as a kid. Some parents keep their house well stocked with whole milk and good food, my father always made sure I had a fresh sketch book , plenty of art supplies and an eccentric posse of artists to inspire me.

As a kid I would have "art-sleep-overs" with my guy friends. We would check out football books from the library on a Friday and spend all weekend copying the pictures into our sketch books. When I hit middle school I started playing the keyboards in a country band with a bunch of adults across town. I answered in ad in the newspaper and my parents would drive me to band practice each week. In high school, I fell in love with The Police and was in various alternative rock bands through college.

During my junior year at Radford University,  I fell in love with jazz and I discovered fiction writing. I started working as a freelance writer - or at least I tried to, while bringing home the bacon with various day jobs and touring with a jazz fusion band.

After college, I went to grad school to study creative writing and started a career as a full blown traditional jazz pianist. That lasted until I hit the age of 30 and then I gave it all up and went back to my roots. I started making my living as a visual artist in Portland, Oregon, selling my cartoon-like oil-pastel prints at the Portland Saturday Market. This led me back to the east coast where I rented a 1,200 sq ft studio in Easthampton, Ma and started painting on canvas - Large chakra paintings with water based oil paints - some as big as 8ftx8ft.

After a few years, I went back to the stage as a solo-performer which led me into my current work as a professional storyteller.

Hearing Raghava give his talk in the video below was very helpful especially since he and I seem to get a lot out of working with kids. Through the years my kid workshops like Raghava's, have always  comprised a large portion of my work. The world likes to dismiss people like us as "Renaissance Men." But, I don't think this term quite fits. 

Originally from TED TV: Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist.

For more info about "The Neon Man and Me" and other storytelling projects by me - Slash Coleman - please visit


  1. Thanks for this. "Renaissance Men/Women" are our Cultural Creatives, Social Activists and generally, leaders in their own lives.

    Like yours, his parents were strong advocates and he had an idea of what it was to be the "man","woman","son". They lived a life centered around very strong core values. As you know, that's a belief system that serves you well.

    Having reinvented myself several times before either of you were born, let me say it's a great way to live a happy life with no regrets.

    Thanks again for sharing this. I love tedtalks, don't you?

  2. Thanks for weighing in on this. I love Ted Talks too. I suppose once 2012 hits, I suspect all the Renaissance peeps might float to the surface of our culture and we may suddenly find ourselves being tapped for our wisdom related to transitions and personal re-inventions.

  3. and taking care of all the pets?

  4. You can take care of the pets. I'll be riding on an elephant and eating jiffy pop popcorn ;)

  5. I really enjoyed that! So inspiring! Thank you for sharing =) I needed a little inspiration today!

  6. Thanks. Mary. When are you going to make your video with the toad houses and clay cups and cool cardboard cutouts and....