Last week I was at an art sale in West Linn. A woman walked into the booth. I welcomed her and told her to let me know if she had any questions. Because I have so many words and sentiments on my work, I try not to talk too much as people are looking. They seem to get frustrated if I am too chatty because they can't read and talk at the same time. She stood there for awhile, left, came back and stood a bit longer. She finally decided on a mirror and indicated that she wanted to purchase it. While I was wrapping up her new treasure she began to talk.
She told me that she felt so happy reading the phrases and quotes. She told me she just wanted to stand there a little longer and enjoy the feeling in the booth. WOW! I felt very humbled by that.
And then she asked me a question . . . "Are you just naturally happy and then you paint that - or do you need to paint to feel happy?" Her question caught me by surprise. I had never been asked anything like that before. I told her to give me a minute to think about how I wanted to answer and she stood there, patiently waiting, watching me and letting me know that she wasn't going to leave until I answered her.
In just a few short seconds, many thoughts raced through my mind and I realized - I am happy because I paint! Looking back on my life I know that I have fought times of depression. I like to stay busy - sometimes extremely busy. And that isn't always a good thing because it becomes overwhelming and it makes the situation even worse. But if I am busy - then I didn't have time to stop and feel down and blue. It is a bit of a catch-22. As I answered her question, she asked me if I fought depression. I wanted to weep as I answered her - because in the last year, the depression gremlin has been a bit stronger than ever before. And I immediately had an "a-ha" moment - I can't spend enough time in my studio these days. I am resentful when I have to do things like chores, or go to my day job, or any other type of distraction. I tell myself it is because I have deadlines and orders and shows . . .but I think the real reason is, I want to be in my studio because it is the best anti-depressant I have. In my studio, time stands still.
I am fairly new to the art world - I didn't even pick up a paint brush until I was an adult. It was the result of a bout of depression. I have always been creative. I performed for many years, I dabbled in various crafts like knitting and crochet - but I always wanted to paint. I was scared to get started. Paint seemed so "permanent" - what if I screwed up? Then what? Encouraged by my very dearest friend, I bought a few bottles of paint and some paint brushes and I started. I am so grateful for that encouragement. I'm not sure where I would be today without my art. My early work was very different from what I do today - I didn't find my artist voice until 6 years ago.
People often comment on my color palette - it is bright! I like bright, rich, saturated colors. I love how they make me feel. I love how they seem to surround my spirit and make it feel alive. Rich colors are like a blanket of security to me. I live in a place that has long, gray winters. I don't mind winter - in fact I love all of the seasons - but the gray . . .the neverending, thick, impenetrable gray . . .it begins to get to a person. When I was younger, it didn't bother me. The older I get, though, it is hard. If it weren't for my art, I'm not sure I could pull myself out of bed sometimes. I tell people I paint my own sunshine. I believe heaven will be full of colors that we can't even comprehend.
I am greatful that I have found my "passion" - I believe that everyone needs one. We all need that thing that we think about when we wake up in the morning and that keeps us up at night because we want to spend just a few more minutes doing it. Mine is art. I love being surrounded by my blanket of rich color. If you like my work and it makes you happy - thank you. If it's not your style - that is ok. I paint to make me happy. I paint to make my soul rejoice.