I began doing art late in life and threw myself into developing my skills with almost panicked enthusiasm. I’ve heard that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill and I don’t have any time to waste if I am going to get good before I die of old age.

Before becoming a full-time artist, I had a crazy career path. I started as a nurse, ran off to the rainforests of Costa Rica to become a naturalist, made my way to the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign where I convinced them to award me a doctorate in Biology. Eventually, I ended up at Oregon State University where I taught an online genetics course for ten years. When they stopped renewing my contract, it was for the best. I’d wanted to stop teaching for years so I was grateful that the decision to quit was made for me.

Honestly, though, I’ve wanted to be an artist my whole life. My old sketchbooks show many aborted attempts at learning to draw or painting in watercolor. What I didn’t realize was that my modest efforts weren’t all that bad. If I’d just worked harder at it, I’d have completed my 10,000 hours decades ago.

Once I got serious about being an artist, I learned that any lack of talent I have can be compensated for by hard work. I’ve spent the last two and a half years teaching myself to draw, learning Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, and learning to paint in acrylics and watercolors.

I find inspiration in illustrations, vintage matchbook covers, and the work of Teagan White and Arna Miller, among other contemporary artists. I draw in pencil and use visual references from photography and books. My paintings are mostly in acrylics but I also work in watercolor and colored pencil.

My aim is to create an intimate encounter between the viewer and the subject of my art, communicating both personhood and a sense of enchantment. As the pace of habitat destruction and climate change accelerates, I place the viewer in close proximity with animals most people rarely see but whose lives we often affect, albeit indirectly. Most often, I depict birds and richly colored florals in gently surrealistic compositions.

My husband, Douglas Robinson, is an ornithologist and professor. We live in a purple house in Corvallis, Oregon, with our dog, Rowdy Roo.