Once upon a time I was born into a family that started ordinary enough. Yet at an early age I was awakened to color and art. One of my first memories is from a day in first grade. My teacher asked us to write our name at the top of our paper and I took my colors and wrote each letter in a different color. I felt so proud and happy. Yet a few minutes later my teacher came by and told me I had done this wrong. I couldn’t use multiple colors and was only supposed to use the black crayon. I remember vividly taking the black crayon and scribbling all over my name and I went from happy to sad.
When I was around ten I remember being over at my grandmother’s house, my happy place. Nana was an artist and would have one child at a time stay at her house. I remember going to her art studio and together we’d pick a painting to work on and we’d work side by side on the same thing. I’d look at her painting and my painting and then she’d give me directions and I’d paint too. I’ll never forget the evening my Dad came to pick me up and we went out to the art studio to show him both paintings. He looked at both and picked the best painting and picked mine!
In college I lived out of town in Huntsville and several months before Christmas my Mom suggested I could paint a nativity set with my grandmother as her Christmas present. She thought it was 3 large pieces. When I asked Nana about it I was surprised to see her unwrap over 20 pieces of ceramic (a normal size nativity scene). So we began. Ever time I’d come home from college I’d go over to her house to work, but of course it wasn’t work. We’d study each piece, debate over the colors, the textures and begin and then begin again. We started with the animals and ended with baby Jesus. Together we spend days and days on this. I remember that year Nana decided to have the Christmas party so we could display all the pieces as a surprise. My Mom was very surprised as she was expecting something totally different. She gave the set to me about 10 years ago and every time I unwrap it I marvel at each piece.
In 2008 I was invited to an art class that would meet two times a month at the teacher’s house, Joan Moody. There were 2 other people in the class, Sue Allen and Joanne Greene. We sat around Joan’s kitchen table and did art. After a couple of months of lessons I felt I was wasting my money in the indulgence of taking the class and I just wasn’t that good so decided I would take one more class and then quit. Strangely I enjoyed myself that day and I changed my mind. Can’t imagine the decision I almost made!
My life would be different without my art class and teacher and now mentor Joan. Today I’m being challenged and growing in ways I’d never imagine. Last year I finally started using the words, “I’m an artist” (in a scary tiny voice) and I’ve even recently taught an art class at the encouragement of Joan. My favorite part of the class is the community we’ve made and I loved this safe place to do art.
Who do I want to become? I recently had to pick two words out of a list of values to describe what matters to me most. I picked faith and growth and other words I loved are authenticity, creativity, gratitude, learning, responsibility, vulnerability and being wholehearted. So my true north is pointed toward giving myself permission to become a better artist. My hope is not only will it change my life, but will change the lives of others. I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds.