The Story Behind the Artist

Pentax film camera with flash

As a teen I had a sketchbook in which I would draw with ordinary Number 2 pencils. I drew pictures of stuffed animals belonging to my sisters and me, of the Tennessee mountains as we traveled through on family vacations, and of my friends. I also copied pictures from magazines…. I still have that sketchbook.

In high school I continued to draw a little, but photography became much more important to me. A dear friend gave me my first “grown up” camera, a Pentax ME Super. I read the manual from cover to cover and took hundreds of photos, keeping track of my settings in a spiral notebook so that when the film was developed, I could see the impact the settings made on the shots…. I still have that camera.

While photography was my passion, I did not necessarily see it as my calling. Several teachers greatly influenced my life, most of them English teachers, so I went to college to prepare to join their ranks. In 1992 I graduated with a BA in English and began teaching right away. As I mentioned yesterday, most of my teaching career was invested in the teaching of Spanish, algebra, and music. Spanish was my minor, algebra my hobby, and music my other passion. 🙂 Oddly enough, I taught English only one year—my final year in formal education—and I must say that eighth grade class was my crowning joy.

In 1994 I married a handsome sailor whom I had met at church, and by 2001 we had three precious children. I loved teaching—pouring my life into the lives of my students—but there wasn’t enough of me to go around, so in 2006 I left the traditional setting for good to teach my own children at home.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine offered art classes to the homeschoolers at our church. My children all signed up, and my friend let me audit the class as well. In Art I, she introduced us to drawing in 2-point perspective, charcoal, pen and ink, 2D and 3D wire sculpture, clay sculpture, color pencil, acrylic, and watercolor. My fascination with art was reawakened. I was drawing again, and painting now too. And I learned that color pencils are not just for children!

color pencil drawing of a bunch of peppers
My first color pencil study, “One of a Kind,” on red Canson paper

That same year our church hosted its first craft fair to raise funds for teen mission trips, and my teacher/friend and I rented a table together to sell her paintings and my photographs. I created a line called Scenic Scriptures, in which I combined original photographs with Scripture verses. I presented them in a variety of sizes as prints—mounted, matted, or framed—as well as trinket boxes, trays, greeting cards, and refrigerator magnets. I made a small profit, but more importantly, I made a big impression on many friends who encouraged me to continue learning and developing in the area of art.

2Cor 4v7, 4x6
Many of my photos come from the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina and Virginia.

For four years I sold my art at craft fairs, and slowly a vision grew within me of doing this full-time. At the time, I was spread pretty thin, with my time and attention divided among several responsibilities and ambitions. But I had a burning desire to paint and make piano art, so I took steps toward that end. Slowly I phased out the Scenic Scriptures and devoted all my time to making piano art. This was not because I didn’t like the work with photography, but because that field is already saturated, and precious few people are making art with pianos.

Conductor 2013
“The Conductor” was the first piece I ever created from piano parts.

All my plans and dreams came to a screeching halt, it seemed, when in August 2016 my husband received a job transfer. After 35 years in Virginia, we were moving 900 miles away to a place where we knew almost no one. I was sad to leave my dear friends and church family, but happy for the chance to make a clean break from my other endeavors so I could focus more fully on art. The first few months were dedicated to settling in so the feeling of transition would not hang around indefinitely, and then I got busy with my dream of having a prosperous art business.

The transition proved to be more difficult than any of us could have imagined, and the dream nearly died. Between confusing state regulations, insufficient workspace, and tuition payments for three college students in private schools, the demands seemed more than I could handle. But it was not too much for my Abba. The Lord graciously showed both my husband and me that it was He who gave me this vision and the ability to draw, paint, and create things. I can do nothing less than give it all back to Him with a heart full of gratitude and faith to believe that He will meet all our needs according to His riches in Glory. In spite of many obstacles and setbacks…. by God’s grace I still have the vision!

 

 

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