It's April Fool's Day, but this is no joke... today I am celebrating my 10th anniversary as a full-time painter! Rather than bragging about all of the wonderful opportunities, successes, and growth that I have experienced over the past 10 years, I would like to use this blog post to thank the people who have helped me along the way.
Before I get started, I must first take a moment to say that God has been gracious and blessed me beyond words. My faith in Christ and my prayer life has gotten me through many tough times. My husband has been there for me through thick and thin, and my children, dear friends, teachers, workshop leaders, gallery owners need to be mentioned. Even the negative folks and jurors who have omitted me from exhibitions have played a roll in pushing me to try harder. Thanks to all of you.
Because I can't possibly mention everyone, I have decided to narrow the list to the top five people without whom I would not be celebrating this anniversary today. First Hats Off Goes to Dawn Whitelaw
Dawn and I first met in 2003. I immediately found her work amazing, and soon took a workshop with her. One of the most gifted teachers and mentors I have ever met, she kindly took me under her wing and helped me learn about color mixing, design, and painting handling. Since that time, she and I have been come the closest of friends. We travel together, paint as often as possible together, and laugh with one another every step of the way. Dawn has mentored many artists finer than I, and each of us owes her a huge mountain of gratitude.
The Second Salute Goes to Scott Christensen
I first studied with Scott in 2005. My work pretty much stunk, and I knew that much of what he would be teaching would go way over my head. Still, even in the room of 40 students, he gave me help and encouragement that lasts to this day. Several years passed before I saw Scott again, but I never forgot all that he taught me. When we finally caught up with each other, it was as if we had been best buds the entire time. Not only is Scott an amazing painter, he is so incredibly insightful. Not a single day goes by that I don't hear his wisdom in my head. It's a joy and privilege to count him as a friend.
Three Cheers for Quang Ho
The OPA National in 2007 was my first time to watch Quang paint. It was like watching a beautiful dance and it filled my heart with new enthusiasm. Some mutual friends introduced us that day, and I have not let him out of my grasp since. Several workshops, emails, and phone conversations later, and I still believe he is the most brilliant artist I have ever met. It was not until the third or fourth time I studied with him that he painted on one of my canvases for the first time. I could feel his frustration with me for my lack of understanding. He took a brush and made a tiny mark, no larger than an aspirin, and it was the most beautiful shape in the entire painting. The clouds parted and I got the point. Quang is as kind as they come, and has helped me in a million tiny little ways. What a talent. He is in my brain and in my heart. I am blessed by his friendship.
Number Four and a HUGE Round of Applause to Eric Rhoads -- CEO and Publisher of Streamline Magazine
In 2010, Dawn and I attended the Publisher's Invitational Paint the Adirondacks hosted by Eric. It was during a time when every dime counted, so making the trip was very difficult to manage financially. Something in my soul wanted so badly to go paint those beautiful waterfalls and streams, that I found a way. This was the first time I met Eric. Honestly, we spoke very little that trip. I was a bit shy and really only there to paint (not to network). Still, that chance meeting and subsequent opportunities to work with Eric have changed my life. It was such a shock to be invited as a field painter at the first Plein air Convention. A bigger shock still, was being a demonstrator on the main stage with CW Mundy the following year. Over the next four years, Eric became a mentor and friend and helped me learn ways to market my work. With his help, guidance and support, I am able to do what I love, make a living doing it, and realize that the sky is the limit! I can't wait to see what advice he has in store for me next.
My All-Time Favorite... Number Five, My husband.
Mark's belief in me and emotional support cannot be measured. Without him, I would have never become an artist at all. The thought never even crossed my mind before he and I met 24 years ago. No matter how tough things got financially, Mark never once asked me to give up and go back to work. (Incidentally, that is something I was seriously considering just before I met Eric.) In 2008-2009, it was Mark's idea to sell our home and belongings and go to Italy for 8 months so that I could concentrate on painting. It was also Mark's idea to build the new studio (which is almost complete). To my best friend, and the love of my life, I want to say, "Grazie e ti voglio bene." Did I mention that he also cooks?