It’s two years now since I retired, leaving my scientific and planning careers in other capable hands. Having enjoyed my varied career immensely, I surprised myself when I decided to pursue artistic activities in retirement. On reflection, I have realized that creativity was always an important part of my work life. I was always happiest when forging new paths, trying out new ideas and finding better approaches to tackle the wicked problems that we face today. I loved challenges and still do.
Thinking back to my childhood days, I was entranced by colours and flowers. These loves were encouraged by the walks I took with my mother past lovely flower gardens and the window box full of flowers that my father added to our playhouse made of old crates. I love window boxes to this day, insisting that they be added to brighten the various homes that I have had over the years. Dad also got a multi-coloured revolving glass night-light for my sister and I. I can still visualize the revolving colours moving in soothing circles around our room.
As I grew older, he took my sister and I on hikes. I can remember complaining, and asking (as every child does!), “Are we there yet”? I also remember watching (somewhat impatiently) as he painstakingly took photos of wildflowers. Now I have become that hiker and photographer!
Dad gave up architectural training to be a doctor; I think he would have been happier in a creative career. My mother loved history and English, becoming a professor in later life after an early nursing career. So it’s not a surprise that I was an “all-rounder” in school. I can remember playing school with my sister and thinking that I wanted to be a teacher. However, I have this feeling from childhood of stifled creativity. I can remember a total of two art projects in my whole school career and I was never encouraged to take art as a subject. As the oldest, I was expected to follow in dad’s footsteps and so my courses were heavily science-based. I became interested in marine biology and graduated in Zoology. Then I went to Nigeria with CUSO and tried teaching for a couple of years.
The newness of vegetation in Nigeria intrigued me and I thought that I might pursue a botany degree on my return to Canada. Being practical by nature, I also wanted to ensure a job on graduation so I picked Range Management as a Masters pursuit, which combined my plant and animal interests. Luckily that turned out to be a good choice!
Fast forward to having a family and spending a lot more time at home. I went to a couple of art classes but then life became too busy with a return to work and responsibilities at home. I was the family photographer and loved taking pictures on holiday, but that was the extent of my artistic endeavours. After I retired, I decided to take some more art classes, first watercolour, and more recently, acrylic painting. I have settled on the latter now and am loving painting beautiful landscapes. Photography is still a passion and the scientist in me has taken a strong interest in the macro details of life. I love finding inspirational quotes and interesting facts for the photos that I share with my social media audience. I have also discovered that I enjoy creative writing. So it turns out that combining my interests is a challenging, fulfilling and rewarding new direction.