12 years ago, as an elementary school teacher at the top of my career, I was facing some major medical hurdles that I would have to jump whether I wanted to or not. I left the profession that I adored and was passionate about with great discouragement, to face a life on full disability and multiple surgeries. It was as if life had once again snatched the rug out from under my feet. One morning I lay in bed, watching the sunlight flow across the pane of the window and asked myself, "What on earth would I do now? Is this all that there would be in life?"
Now if you know me, you know I have always had the outlook of extreme optimism, sometimes to a fault, so I tapped into that innate gift and gathered about 10 books on watercolor painting from the library. To set the record, I wasn't a painter. I didn't take art lessons, but when I was in elementary and high school I loved art and knew that I loved to doodle, and that was the extent of my creative talents at the time.
It didn't matter to me that I didn't know how to paint, I just gave myself permission to try, to explore, to play with watercolor pigment and quickly found that I had three things going for me: I had the gift of visual transfer, I had a knack for color, and creativity came naturally to me.
Fast forward to this past weekend and I am coming off the most incredible experience of having my first major solo show with 35 paintings showcased at The Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope, Al. So what happened in the span of 12 years with a body that was lacking and a skill set that was brand new?
|Taking in the moment before the crowd.|
What I can share with you in this short space is a combination of several things: I turned to art for part of my healing process, I never had the voice in my head telling me I was doing it wrong, I practiced as much as I could to work hard and thrive, and I had the aid of the Big Guy Upstairs as part of the healing that would take part in my body. Looking back on it now, it has been a remarkable journey filled with struggles and pain and hurdles and moments of extreme joy. In essence, I have journeyed through a miracle to find that the gifts of creativity and communication I was born with, would be what would help save me.
Over the course of the next few weeks I will be sharing part of my story here on my blog because as proud as I am about the impact and body of work I have created for this show, I am equally proud of the journey I took to get to where I am today. Very few people find a way to come off disability and reenter the work force with a brand new set of skills that are connected to divine purpose and heart, but I did. I heard a voice inside myself that whispered, "You are meant for greater things," and even though there were very dark moments, I never, ever let that whisper be silenced. Today I am beyond grateful for the gift of fortitude.
Over the last 12 months I have worked passionately and exhaustingly to master the craft that I needed to paint in a way that evokes this framework. I pulled the business elements together that I needed and I applied 12 years of study into a year of unexpected growth and discovery. Expandorendative is what I am deeply proud of.
This show will hang until Jan. 5th and is free to the public for viewing. On Nov. 21 I have the pleasure of hosting a gallery talk to share with the audience my inspiration, my journey, and the framework that my creative heart worked within to dream and bring to fruition these conceptual pieces.
There will be many moments for me of looking back at all of this, to see the lessons, to share the wisdom of it all, but for today, my heart is full and seeking a bit of rest to let it all sink in. If you are interested in following my story as I write, sign up for my newsletter or follow me on FB! I share quite a lot there.
Many thanks to the staff at ESAC and to all of the friends, family, and supporters that attending the opening. It was an amazing evening that exceeded all of my expectations!