While some children scrap with their siblings, Dacey Dia Villarreal found artistic inspiration from hers.
"I've been an artist since I was child. I would copy my sister, Desiree, when she drew."
Although her sister still paints and draws for herself, she has not taken the path of Dia Villarreal, who teaches art at Independence High School and Taft College.
That teaching career was inspired by another influence in her life while growing up in Wisconsin.
"I knew that I would always do something creative with my life. It was my high school art teacher, Mr. Oliver Gordon, who opened my eyes to the possibilities of pursuing art as a teaching career.
"I loved being in his class and I admired him very much. He was a wonderful artist, I can still remember him showing us a woodblock print he made and I thought it was a fantastic piece of art. Mr. Gordon was also a gentle man with a great amount of patience to deal with us kids. I wanted to be like him someday."
For her Eye Gallery piece, depicting two figures wrapped in music flowing in from an open door, Dia Villarreal sought to maintain the suspense of earlier chapters.
"I wanted the mystery of the figures to continue -- was it a dream, a dream within a dream, or something deeper? -- as well as leave the viewer with questions to what they were seeing."
Although she said she has trouble with due dates (which is why she no longer does commissions), Dia Villarreal said this deadline -- 96 hours to create the work -- was what she enjoyed most about Eye Gallery.
"What I really liked was the challenge on time/time limit. I enjoyed being pushed to make art in a certain amount of time, it was tough, but it made it more exciting. ... I'm honored to be a part of something like this."
After earning her bachelor of fine arts degree from University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh and her master's from Academy of Art University in San Francisco, she moved to Bakersfield in 1999.
The 38-year-old has exhibited her work locally at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, The Foundry, Metro Galleries and the Bakersfield Art Association.
Beyond art, Dia Villarreal enjoys entertaining friends at home with her husband, David, and dog Parker. The couple also love to travel, having criss-crossed the U.S. map.
Dia Villarreal, who said she wouldn't describe herself as a serious person, embraces her fun-loving nature with standup comedy, having performed at open mics in Canoga Park and Club Odyssey in Bakersfield a few years back.
She answered a few more questions for our Eye Gallery questionnaire.
What kind of art speaks to you?
I am drawn to work that I can see the artists' technical skill. ... The artists I like do processes that I'm familiar with and I understand what they went through to the make the piece, which makes me appreciate their work even more.
I don't have an all-time favorite artist (it changes depending on what medium I'm working in), so right now I love Wangechi Mutu and Alfons Mucha. Local favorite artist is hard to pick too. My current favorite local artist is Yvonne Cavanagh; her new watercolor pieces are elegant -- but I'm a fan of many, many local artists, like Art Sherwyn, Christine McKee and David Gordon.
Most supportive mentor and why:
No mentors in regards to my artwork, but my support system is my family and friends. My husband, David, he has been an awesome person to have in my corner, he has been there for everything. My friends have also been great cheerleaders in my life. I am a very lucky person.
I believe great artists critique themselves more harshly than others, and may have a lot of self-doubt at times (I do all the time), and it's nice to have people cheering you on and excepting you no matter what.
Your high school teacher inspired you. Do you feel that with your art students?
I have great students and I try to push them to their fullest potential, so I hope they feel that I only want them to succeed and be inspired.
Of all those who feel the calling to art, only some are also drawn to teaching. What interests you about teaching art?
I enjoy showing people (young and old) "things" and watching them get excited about what they are learning.
You said that you love the process of art. What is it that interests you most?
I love being able to experiment and rework the art until I'm satisfied. I try not to get too wrapped up in what the end result will be. If I become too consumed about the end, then the process isn't as exciting, which usually means I don't like the outcome.
What work are you proudest of creating?
The work I did for my master's degree was the most challenging, but not some of my most proudest work. So I guess I am still waiting to make the work that makes me the proudest.
My downfall to making my art is I love the process of making it; I am not always too concerned about the overall outcome.
Memory of the first time you sold a piece of work
The first painting I sold was a painting of a green rose, for $25, to a friend in school.
Where have you and your husband traveled? Have your travels influenced your art?
We traveled more in the States than outside the States. It has influenced my work a little; I'm hoping this summer it will change. My husband and I are going to drive back to Wisconsin, my home state, and I have already planned two projects to do while on the road.
How do you think this Eye Gallery tale will, or should, end?
Honestly, I don't think I would want it to end a certain way...I would like the viewer to be able to decide how it's going to end.
How to learn more about your work: