I am a fine art painter in my last year of study at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle. I study under a master artist named Juliette Aristides and when I graduate in the spring I will begin working as a full-time artist. Although I am still in school, I am already selling my work and teaching youth art programs. I work primarily in the traditional mediums of oil paint, pastel, charcoal, and graphite. Learning art history is a core element of generating new art; understanding the French language has allowed me to deepen my understanding of this history and opened windows particularly into Western art that I would have never known. Although I'm interested in all kinds of visual representation, I often return to the French naturalist movement of the late 19th century for inspiration on color composition and palettes. It might seem archaic to reach so far back into the past, but as an oil painter working in a realistic style I am practicing a technique that is literally hundreds of years old. Without knowing French, I would never be able to read an artist's journal from Paris in the 1800s and discover the secret to painting the perfect still life or what pigments they used for that sunset. It has enriched my study and practice materially and it has also deepened my connection to contemporary art movements. The international painting world is still very much tied to Europe and because I know French I can stumble upon an artist's blog or Instagram or newspaper and be transported across the world to someone else's studio.
The French department at UW set me on a wonderful path in another way -- through the dedicated support of the advisors, especially Sabrina Tatta. Sabrina was my advisor after I returned from my study abroad program in Paris where I was nearly killed in an apartment fire. It was a completely random event and up until that accident I had had an amazing time. When I recovered enough to return to UW, she helped me navigate the university in getting my French language credits sorted and generally opening her office to me whenever I needed someone to talk to. The trauma I experienced from the fire was mitigated by her incredible generosity of time and spirit and I do not believe I could have graduated without her help.