AN UNLIKELY ARTIST
Some artists are born with loads of raw talent and some are made through hard work and determination.
As the oldest girl in a family of five children, Dorie was very organized and analytical and not nearly as artistic as her older brother who could “draw anything.” She enjoyed learning to draw and exploring different art projects as a child but was always discouraged by her lack of raw talent and her need to work twice as hard to produce something half as nice as her older brother or younger sister could produce. Somewhere during her formative years she was convinced she did not have what was necessary to become an artist. She happily moved on to other interests but never gave up her love of art and was always in awe of the great painters and sculptors who had come before her.
Born in 1970 and growing up during a time when abstract art was taking hold as a popular form of art, Dorie Wardie was raised to appre-
ciate the old masters’ paintings and sculptures more than the ‘popular’ art of the 70’s and 80’s. During high school while visiting the National Gallery of Art, she was enthralled by the works of Renoir and Monet and many others. At this point, she was very content to sit and admire the beauty displayed on the canvases in front of her, never daring to dream that she could, or would, become an artist someday. She was happy to be a recipient of the great art around her, not a creator of it.
Through a series of life changes Dorie Wardie found herself in fashion design school in Atlanta, Georgia. She had managed to find a school that didn’t require a portfolio for admission because she “could not draw,” in her own words. During her time there, she took a couple of required drawing classes and with the help of a classmate she learned that she did have some talent for draftsmanship after all. “This drawing class was a disaster because the professor would sit at the front of the class and tell us to draw things giving no instruction at all. I approached his desk one evening in class and asked for help with a drawing with which I was struggling. He looked at my drawing, then he looked at me and told me I was hopeless. So, I sat back down at my seat. In the back of the class there was a student who was really good at drawing. He saw the whole interchange and offered to help me with my drawing. He helped me see where I needed to move a line or add shading and the result was amazing. At that point I realized that if I worked hard enough, I really could draw. It was the beginning of a turning point for me and I began to put to rest that nagging voice in my head that always told me that I had no talent.”
After some deep soul searching, she realized that the ultra-competitive, fast paced world of fashion design was not for her, even though her love for clothes never waned. She transferred back to Hillsdale College in Michigan where she had begun her college career in 1988. She thought she would return and pursue the major in English that she had begun five years prior to this. As providence would have it that is not how things turned out. In order to fill an open spot in her schedule, the Dean suggested she take a drawing class and she hesitantly agreed. As life would have it, the drawing professor was also the sculpting professor and about halfway through the semester he invited her to take his sculpting class that was being offered the following semester. She was honored to be invited to take the sculpting
class, so she signed up for it. By the second week of class she knew she had found her calling. The feel of the clay in her hands and the transformation of that lump of clay into a beautiful form was that ‘thing’ for which she had been searching. She said, “It’s funny how in life you sometimes just feel like you’re floundering and going in circles, never getting anywhere, and then all of a sudden you realize it
wasn’t all futile, it wasn’t wasted energy but instead it was the path that led you to your niche in life.”
After 8 not so long years her circuitous route through college ended with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Fine Art from Hillsdale College. Since college she, along with her husband, has been raising their six children. It has only been in recent years that she has been able to get back into her studio and start creating sculptures in earnest.
Surprisingly, after 20 years of not much sculpture production, she is faster and more directed than she thought she would be after such a long absence of steady work. She attributes that to her lack of available time and her maturity of confidence in her ability. She says, “One nice thing about aging is that through the process of our experiences in life we become more confident not only in our abilities but in our decisions. These two things have made me a better and more decisive artist. Our decision for me to put my art career on hold while raising our children has seemed to work for us and for that I will always be grateful because it was very hard to shelve my sculpting tools for all those years. ‘For everything there is a season, and time for every matter under heaven...’ Ecclesiastes 3:1.”
Dorie Wardie now divides her time between her art studio, their children and her husband’s natural health practice.