Throughout my life I have dabbled in all types of art. When I was in first grade, I was home sick one day lying on the couch watching “Topper” on TV. A commercial came on for a poster contest. I chose a topic — Know Your Policeman. I sketched a stick figure scene of a child shaking a policeman’s hand in front of a jail. All on notebook paper. I am not sure if my grandfather mailed it for me or just how it got into the mail, but my parents did not know. Long story short, my parents received a letter stating I had won second prize in an FBI poster contest and it was signed by J. Edgar Hoover. I got to go to Asheville to be on TV and was interviewed and had my picture in the local paper. I won a doll, but I was secretly so envious of the older kids who received cameras. This was my introduction to the art world.
In second grade, I realized I could draw differently from the other kids. We had to draw a picture of our home and I remember drawing our stove and made it three dimensional. I can remember kids asking me how I did that and I wasn’t sure what they meant.
I took art classes in school anytime they were offered. Those classes were magical to me and the place where I always felt the most like myself.
My sister and I took ceramic classes from a woman who had a small studio in Alaska. We glazed poured ceramic pieces and she fired them in her kiln. We became good friends with her and eventually helped her poor ceramics in exchange for free classes. It was a great time in my relationship with my sister. One I will never forget.
While in Alaska I took oil painting classes from a woman who painted gold pans to sell to tourists. She was very talented and so much fun to be around. She made enough money selling gold pans that she bought a house and an airplane and paid cash for both. It was not a formal class, but it was at a time when I needed some creative time away from a very chaotic home life.
When I lived in Maine, I took drawing classes from a woman who had a beautiful studio with amazing natural light. She was an accomplished portrait artist and I managed to hone my portrait skills under her tutelage. My children were in junior high and still young enough that I could coax them to sit for me. I wish I had kept all those sketches of my children at that age, but they disappeared somewhere along the way.
I also bought my first 35mm camera while living in Maine. A Pentax K1000. It was inexpensive and all that I could afford. I found a local photographer that helped me learn about black and white photography. He rented me his darkroom for $5 an hour. It was there I learned how to process black and white film and print photos on graded paper. He also gave me my first lesson in handcoloring photographs.
I took piano classes twice in my life — once in Alaska from an amazing concert pianist and once in Maine from a leather-wearing, motorcycle-riding young concert pianist. That was the first and only time I ever got to play a Steinway baby grand piano. I never became an accomplished piano player, but I enjoyed this time very much.
After moving to Florida, I took classes continuously. Stained glass for a while, then photography, life drawing, mosaics, portraiture, painting and eventually my first foray into jewelry-making. It was then my daughter and soon to be daughter-in-law asked me to make their engagement rings — a post for another day.
I taught art to at-risk teen moms for five years. It was a hard job, but the most satisfying job I think I ever had. Art and teaching and children all together was a dream come true.
Once in North Carolina, I took my first lapidary classes — another dream I held for a long time. I have also taken more jewelry classes and love making jewelry so much. I found a wonderful teacher in Molly Sharp and have learned so much from her. Now if I could just get hubby to build me a small studio.
For me, art has been a major factor in my life. Making art to sell was never my motivation. Creating is what I enjoy. It’s the ability to get totally lost in something that feeds my soul.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”