Some people find their creative passion early in life, while for others it comes slowly, revealing itself only over time as their lives unfold. In our youth–obsessed culture, it can be disquieting for those whose Muse requires maturity — and yet sometimes an artist's vision is so remarkable and unique that it seems to need years to germinate slowly, fully, preparing itself deep in the psyche . . .and then suddenly blossoming with astounding power.
Coming to ones artistic vocation later in life is more common than many people realize, and can enrich ones work with qualities impossible to achieve at any younger an age. The great Japanese artist Hokusai once commented that it was only with age that he really understood how to draw. "By the age of fifty I had published numberless drawings," he said, "but I am displeased with all I have produced before the age of seventy. It is at seventy–three that I have begun to understand the form and the true nature of birds, of fishes, of plants and so forth. Consequently, by the time I get to eighty, I shall have made much progress; at ninety, I shall get to the essence of things; at a hundred, I shall certainly come to a superior, indefinable position; and at the age of a hundred and ten, every point, every line, shall be alive. And I leave it to those who shall live as I have myself, to see if I have not kept my word."
Compared to the seventy–three year old Hokusai, Jeanie Tomanek is still quite young — yet she is a fine example of an artist who found her true creative "voice" with maturity. Born in Batavia, New York, in 1949, Jeanie grew up in the rolling pasturelands of the Genesee Valley. She drew and painted all of her life, but she took these skills for granted and created art only infrequently while working at (and hating) "real jobs" in accounting, real estate, and other fields. In 1969 she married her husband, Dennis, in Cleveland, Ohio. They had one daughter, Mara, and moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1983. For many years, Jeanie used poetry as her primary creative outlet, publishing in a variety of literary journals. Yet still she knew she hadn't yet found her true path and her soul's vocation.
"In 1999, after searching for many years for that creative thing that would be my passion, I started drawing again and eventually realized it was painting that I was supposed to do all along. By 2001, I'd escaped corporate life and was painting full time, developing my style and voice. My 'little baldies' started emerging on the canvas, telling whatever stories they needed to tell. I began to show my work in places such as the Atlanta Artist's Center, The Atlanta College of Art, and Trinity Gallery. People said my paintings spoke to them — which is something I still find hard to believe.