Drawing is what most connects me to my mother, it is our shared passion and DNA. Physically, we don’t look alike, but you can tell from our drawings that we are very much related. Her name is Doranna Wendel. She has been drawing since she was a little girl, and is completely self-taught. She was always incorporating creativity into our lives, her whimsical illustrations even adorned our brown paper bag lunches every day. She taught me to never erase, to turn every mistake into something meaningful. This is still my approach, surrendering to the process gives me the courage to begin painting on a blank page.
My compassion for all creatures comes from my mother too. I became vegetarian when I was five, not only because I loved animals, but also because my mom was my guide for how to be kind. We were taught that all creatures, from ant to human, deserved equal love and respect. My siblings and I were notorious for disrupting our elementary school classes to escort spiders and beetles outside.
We always had many animals, at one point, we had 2 dogs, 2 cats, 3 hamsters, a hedgehog, and a bunny... Our house had a big backyard surrounded by woods and we spent much of our time outside climbing trees and picking blackberries, deer roaming beside us. I have always felt a very strong spiritual connection to animals. I know they can’t speak the way humans do, but if you listen and observe with the utmost compassion, you begin to understand them.