I grew up in Monterey, California during the 50’s and 60’s when high schools taught Home Economics to girls and Wood Shop to boys. Girls learned sewing, cooking, baking, cleaning, and everything domestic, while the boys learned car mechanics, metal work, carpentry, and how to make cutting boards for their mothers. Life was simpler then. Families dressed up in their best clothes for Church every Sunday. Parents were really much more strict than they are today, especially mine. Most homes had only one black phone and one black and white TV with maybe a few channels.
I love the old black and white noir when film artistry relied on daylight, shadows, and the actor’s talent. My father’s favorite actress was Myrna Loy who he named me after, while reading an article about her as he sat in the hospital waiting for my arrival. Whenever I can I try to catch her films on Turner Classic Movies. Those were the days when actors were so melodramatic, plots were predictable, and film artistry relied on low-key lighting techniques and balancing composition. I learned about light, shadows and composition by watching black and white movies. I still apply everything I learned from those old movies to my art and all those sewing and cooking lessons in Home Economics, are the very reasons I can cook and sew today.
I was born with a passion for creativity and surrounded by parents who were always busy making or doing things around the house. My mother used to sew and make our play clothes and Halloween costumes. She always dressed my sister and I as if we were twins, even though we were two years apart.
I remember doilies. There were doilies everywhere, even in the car. I was a quick study and I learned the basics just from watching my mother crochet every day. I used to help her starch the doilies stiff and shape them around Coca Cola bottles so when they dried, they stood upright. I remember her baking pies and cakes from scratch, especially for our birthdays. One particular cake I’ll never forget was an angel food cake with a hole in the middle, where she placed a plastic doll dressed in a doily dress. Later when I became a mom I shared my mother’s sewing and baking artistry with my children, as well.
My father, on the other hand, was more focused on the outdoors and home improvement. He was a talented handyman around the house. He could fix anything, create odds and ends from junk, install sprinkler systems, build retainer walls, barbecue pits, patios, fences, and grow anything. I followed him around and helped him with his projects on weekends. That could explain why I got a toolbox when I went away to college! All his handy work rubbed off on me and I still use those tools around the house in my crafts and artistry today. By the way, I gave my daughter her own tools too when she left for college and she still has them today, plus some.
Surrounded by all this creativity and ingenuity, I ended up attending the junior college where I got my Liberal Arts degree with a major in Art. Afterwards, I transferred to the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland (now called California College of the Arts). In 1972, at the age of 21, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design.