I was born and raised in Madisonville, Kentucky just an hour from where we live now. It was a sweet childhood in a small town…I had a wonderful family and carefree upbringing. I was involved in church and sports, and I was extremely social.
When I was young, I drew and colored a lot. I don’t recollect any instruction or teaching; I just remember making things…like dollhouse furniture…and liking the patterns in rocks…and enjoying the collections of little things. I do remember making a large funny bird out of paper once and hanging it from the ceiling over my parents’ bed. At the time, I thought it was just amazing!
I didn’t really know that this creative side of me was something singular to cultivate…that it was a special gift. Over time, I realized that being a creative person, I was more able to slow down and become appreciative of the world around me; I notice beauty. I think it heightens my awareness of God and gives me a more thankful heart.
There are days I notice a color or pattern that has been right in front of me for years and that’s it, I am inspired!
If someone asked me how to pursue their creativity, my response would be to just begin. Whatever you think you are interested in, just start. I firmly believe that anyone can paint and create.
Community over competition
When the outcome of my artwork is pleasing to others, or myself, I feel it’s the equivalent of a smile. It’s just good for my soul, and I am so grateful. This is what I work for….and it’s what creates a passion in me to keep creating, to keep making.
My creative community consists mostly of my dear friends who also enjoy making things. We spend time together working on our projects with a lot of laughter and socializing at the same time. I have also been able to connect to many more artful women in my town by hosting an “art camp for ladies”. I have met other artists online too…and have to confess that I enjoy talking about art with anyone who will listen.
This small little butterfly bowl by Mackenzie- Childs is my favorite studio item. My dear friend and painting mentor, Kristin Neufarth, gave it to me. She and I met in a Bible study in Northern Virginia. After becoming friends, we later discovered we were childhood friends in Kentucky. The colorful bowl is in the shape of a butterfly and represents the sweet time in life when we lived in the same town and painted together when we both lived in Virginia.
My space and the gift of it in my life
My studio was such a gift to me. When we moved from Northern Virginia to Kentucky, with five children ages one and a half to nine, I was delighted that I could have the attic space in our home as my studio space. Before then, I had an “art desk” in the basement playroom. I cannot tell you how many times my children and their friends came running upstairs with paint on themselves. I was so happy to finally have my own room with a door! We got estimates for heating and cooling and even hardwood, but our entire budget was spent just on materials to create walls and a floor, paint the room, and install electrical outlets and lights put in by my father and his friend. But, it is more than enough…and I love it!
I have been delightfully using this space for 14 years through cold winters and hot summers. I am so thankful for the one small window that allows me to peer outside. Over time, I have gotten new cabinets for my desk and added an inspiration board. It’s largely the same as when I first moved in, but I do have to switch out rugs now and then because they get so splattered with paint.
A studio is what you make it
A studio does not have to be a formal space or a separate room. It can be your kitchen table or your garage. What is special about your studio is you and what you make there. I have dreams about a really cool studio space with much light and exposed brick and a high ceiling with beams…maybe one day. But if not, I am so thankful for my little attic space with portable air conditioning and space heaters…for it is not the actual space that is my sanctuary, but it is in the act of creating something that I find my pleasure.
My biggest challenge with creating in my studio space is just that…space. I have needed to overflow into my sons’ room at times. Once I painted six panels that were six feet tall and about four feet wide for mural art for a doctor’s office, and I had to prep the wood canvases in the garage as I found it difficult to even paint them in the bedroom. I made it work!
I have a website in development and hope that I can soon share more of what I do online and via social media. It’s always a struggle to share and sell what I do, so I am dedicating more time to cultivating these opportunities this year.
“Art can lead you to God…”
— Bob Dylan
I have to maintain perspective…I am doing what I want to do, and yes, I do sell my work—even if I would like to sell more at times. The fact that I get to do this at all is my biggest accomplishment. What an incredible delight that I get paid for doing what I love! I truly consider it a gift from God.