First solo backpacking trip in Zion National Park, October 2018
I have been creative for as long as I can remember. Growing up I always had some project I was working on, whether it was painting, taking photographs, writing poetry, cutting up magazines for collages, or rearranging my room. My dream as a child was to be an artist. I wanted to have that typical artist loft in New York City. While well meaning, most people in my life cautioned me to follow this dream. "Well, artists don't make a lot of money. It's a difficult profession." So instead I chose a safer yet still creative route and studied Interior Design in Chicago.
After graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in 2009 and entering the "real world" I began to doubt my skills and abilities as a designer and artist. I followed my creativity in other ways, my passion for baking and cooking was getting stronger so I started working at a bakery on State Street in Chicago. I loved the city and thought I would stay there forever. It had everything I needed, amazing restaurants, wonderful diversity of cultures, beautiful friends who felt like family, a lakefront trail for running and biking and lounging.
Then I discovered the mountains.
First time in Olympic National Park in Washington, March 2016
I'd been to Colorado and Arizona before but when my best friend moved to Washington and I visited her for the first time, my desires shifted and I had my heart set on the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in 10 years I was entertaining the idea of living somewhere other than Chicago. I set my sights on the mountains and began saving money and planning for a move.
The Pacific Northwest was my dream but life had others plans and in May of 2017 I was driving away from my beloved Chicago with a car full of my belongings headed to Tucson. Arizona was the last place I ever thought I would live, yet here I am. I only ever thought of Arizona as the desert but this beautiful state has a wide variety of landscapes, including mountains. Lots and lots of mountains.
Random couch on the side of the road near Zion National Park, October 2018
Throughout my journey I've had spurts of creative inspiration but every time I would hold a paintbrush in my hand I heard a voice inside me tell me that I wasn't good enough and nobody would like my art so why should I even try? You know artists don't make money. The term is "starving artist" for a reason. I listened to this silly voice for too long.
In the fall of 2018 I hired a life coach. She specializes in helping outdoor minded people realize where they are stuck to help them reach their personal summit. She helped me realize that my impossible dream of being an artist wasn't only possible but I could thrive in the life I wanted to create for myself. Once I realized everything was possible if I changed my mindset I realized I wanted to go for it and call myself an artist! Brushes and Boots is the culmination of a few dreams: to be an artist and to share my hiking adventures.
Hiking out of Bright Angel Trail after Backpacking the Grand Canyon, April 2019
I'm still growing as an artist and a business owner. Through Brushes and Boots I've met so many incredible people, at art markets around Tucson, through wholesale partnerships, at Art Hikes where we create outside together, at watercolor workshops where I share what I've learned about painting, and at women's backpacking workshops where I help others be prepared to go outside. I'm so proud of what I've built with Brushes and Boots and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for me!