Welcome, my name is Vanna Mae. This is my story.
I am a self taught watercolor artist and professional art model currently living in Los Angeles.
My story starts out in a small suburb town of Pennsylvania, not to far from Philly. My whole life I knew I wanted to be artist. I would always be drawing or doodling on something, from notepads, my families computer paper, sketching girls onto home decor magazines, and on the sides of my homework papers, anything I could get my hands on. Unfortunately, I was told most of my childhood life that art was just a "hobby" and that I needed to focus on getting a " going to college and get a job". Growing up with that mindset bothered me because deep down I didn't believe it was true. And at times I felt like challenging that idea. 'Why not do what I love?' Where I grew up there was no art scene or culture except for church, school and work. So for years I suppressed how I really felt inside, Kept my drawings and creativity hidden in my room.
When I turned 18 and went off to college (living that "American Dream") and studied art, While in college I became fascinated with art modeling, It amazed me how so many artists would look at the same subject and everyone's paintings came out so different. I though it was so liberating and beautiful profession. Intrigued me so much I decided to pursue modeling. My parents didn't approve and didn't understand. Even though I understood some there concerns, I needed to find myself and my voice in the art world and express those feelings I've had for so long.
So in 2010 I saved up as much money as I could from my 9-5 job working at a local pizza shop and moved 3,000 miles away to a wonderful place called California. At the age of 19, I was out on my own and out in the real world. I couldn't believe it! It was one of the most exciting, scariest and thrilling experiences of my life. At first I stayed at friends sofas,, then found a place on craigslist and didn't work out, I was homeless.. Thought to myself 'What am I DOING!?!' I could of called my parents and went back.. But my gut feeling told me to keep going. I befriended many people along the way and got back on my feet, found a tiny closet size place and immersed myself in the art scene in DTLA. From there I met so many amazing artists, one of them, Lance Richlin, helped me land my first Art Modeling gig in LA, and helped me get into art modeling at Laguna College of Art and Design. From there my art modeling took off and I was working at art schools all over Orange County.
In between this time I had an opportunity to move to Vegas. So I took the chance and moved! I believe everything happens for a reason, I'm SO thankful I made the choice to move to Vegas. In downtown Las Vegas, in a place called The Arts Factory was where I met so many people that changed my life that helped me find myself. My mentor Alexander P Huerta was the first person that took me under he wing and taught me so much about art, passion and living an authentic lifestyle. He was the first artist Ive ever witnessed painting in his studio everyday, and that was his only job. He was living an authentic life. He really looked into my soul and question my intentions and what I wanted out of this life. His wisdom and advice came from a place of love and respect for me as a human and as an artist. He came my mentor and good friend in so many ways and really is part of the reason I am who I am today. Everyday he is in his studio, Peace n Art, painting and creating beautiful paintings everyday, He inspires everyone that comes into his studio. He truly is one of the fathers of the Arts District in Las Vegas. From his studio I met so many of my good friends that are like family to me. I was painting, creating art and found a community of artists that are like minded and creative as myself. It was the first time in a long time I didn't feel alone, I could be myself 100%.. And I still feel that way today.
After spending 2 years there I decided to move back to California to pursue Art Modeling full-time and in California. My art modeling career continued where I left, And for the first year of moving back was great, I was going to Vegas frequently, still had my pulse in the scene, I was comfortable financially.. But not everything was great. I lost close people in my life and got out of a really unhealthy relationship. This experience left me in a dark place. I was depressed. I moved out of our place, rented a little room to heal and to be at peace.I needed to work on myself. I came out to my family and friends about my depression.
My mother bought me a set of watercolors around that time. Ive never painted with watercolors in my life and didnt expect to, Until one day, I was having a really bad day. I decided to paint how I felt, and to my surprise, I painted something rather sweet, soothing, and absolutely loving. I painted a woman figure holding a cup of coffee, happy and carefree in her sanctuary enjoying her solitude, In the painting, I wrote a message on her wall saying "Self love is Good Love". That message struck a cord in me. I realized that what I wasn't doing for myself is loving myself, but my art was showing me how to love myself. So I kept painting more and more, and every time my brush hit the canvas it felt like bliss. Painting became my meditation, my me time, a time to connect and center my thoughts, emotions and love. After a couple months of doing it I felt really good about myself, I was lifted out of my depression. I loved painting so much I wanted to share this with others, I had my first showing in Las Vegas at the Arts Factory in Jana's Redroom Art Gallery. I sold both paintings I had on display. That gave me the encouragement to show more, start a Instagram to my art @vannamaeart and to start doing Live Painting at art events! I had my first Live Painting event at Magic Garage in LA in February, and from there my art career has flourished. My paintings that helped me heal and grow as a person, I call my paintings Dream Girls. The name Dream Girls is inspired by my childhood, of always dreaming, painting and manifesting art from a young age till now. Dont ever stop dreaming, keep those dreams alive until they become your reality.
-With Love, Vanna Mae