Hyperfocus: Ramblings From an ADHD Artist
Ever since I was a child, I've enjoyed drawing. It was my safe haven in a world that had not quite figured out that I had ADHD (inattentive type); my perceived laziness in school, hypersensitivity, and ineptitude to clean my room were the symptoms of a neurodevelopment disorder rather than a lack of intelligence or willpower. Even when I was finally diagnosed in the late 1990s, however, ADHD was still not well-understood. It couldn't be cured with punishments or shame, though I remember shedding many tears over signed folders because I had no clue what homework I was supposed to have completed. No pizza party for me, yet again, at the end of every six weeks! It wasn't until I hit my junior year of high school that my amazing doctor finally figured out the medication that would work best for me. Finally, at the age of 17, I was getting the grades of which I knew I was acapable, making lasting friendships, and overcoming the misconception that I wasn't all that bright, too shy, and not very exciting. College was my time to shine (for the most part).
In the midst of all my childhood, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up,, you would have received a whole plethora of answers ranging from veterinarian and marine biologist to dog walker (look at me now, Mom!). Art as a career didn't occur to me until 1995 when I watched Pixar's Toy Story in theaters. I was intrigued; this new 3D movie was clearly art and it clearly required a huge number of different types of artists who had been hired by PIXAR! Internally, I harbored the idea of someday working for Pixar, but I still wasn't sure (after all, my interests changed on an almost daily basis). When I was finally properly medicated in high school for my ADHD, my attention turned towards a career at Pixar as a computer animator. I was studying AP Art as well, which is where I first discovered this "blursed" symptom of ADHD called "hyperfocus." Not quite a blessing and not quite a curse, these periods of intense focus would allow me to create all kinds of art and it captured the attention of my art teachers. It came at the cost of my mental health though and I quickly burned out; a 3/5 on my AP Art exam showed the disconnect. Not understanding hyper-focus, I decided that art was not the path for me. A career as an elementary educator was my true calling!
And so my journey began.
With this blog, I hope to use humor and heart to share a little bit about my story, such as how I've evolved from teacher, to eager participant in a gig economy, to artist all from the perspective of life with ADHD. It's an ongoing journey (or battle) and one that I certainly don't have the answers to, but it is my hope that some of these ramblings from a state of hyper focus will help those without ADHD to understand what it's like growing up and living with this condition (it's more than being distracted by squirrels and shiny objects, though they don't help) and how to balance motherhood with a passion to be a professional artist.
It is also my hope to share the thought process behind my art, tips and tricks for budding artists, and to share commissions that I'm currently working on. If you're okay with traveling in zigzags rather than strictly from Point A to Point B, this is the place for you. If you prefer straight lines, however, send me all of your tips because I still harbor a deep desire to be more organized.