Dear "Much Afraid,"
When Hannah Hurnard wrote her book "Hinds Feet on High Places" she named her fearful little character "Much Afraid." And when you are embarking on a new venture - I totally get it!
When I first began painting I was a month or so along, with maybe 5 or 6 real paintings to my name,and my Dad announced that I should be in a local Orchid Show. He had found a very small ad for an Orchid Show that was to be held on Hilton Head Island. And since I had only painted orchids at that time, he thought this should be my debut. I was not so sure, but the power of someone believing in you is great and not easily ignored.
I applied to show my art at the show and was accepted. I was shocked. So I began to prepare.
Those of you who know me may know my penchant for doing things "large." Well, this was to be no exception. I couldn't possibly just show up with a a few easels and set them up and wait around for people to come and see. I on;y had 5 or 6 paintings - I had to make some other "splash," or who would even notice. (I see now the folly of bringing attention to something other than the art - but bear with me - I had no idea what I was doing.)
For a little backstory - I had begun to paint because of my love and admiration for a particular print of an orchid that I had in my home. You can read about that here. And also, my son and I had been raising orchids for years and they were truly a passion of ours.
So when I decided to show my paintings of orchids, I thought they should be in a setting fit for orchids - a rainforest. Thankfully, I have a family that is wonderfully supportive and when I requested help to "build a rainforest" in the middle of Hilton Head Island's only indoor mall, they said, "Sure thing!"
This required the building of door-frame like structures in which the paintings would hang, a very large oak tree limb that had to be carried by two people through the mall, a load of bricks to border the space, a water garden with fountain, and various plants and many orchids to finish out the look.
It would be a life-altering experience. Not because I was showing my art, but because of the people that would come through to see it. One visitor to my show, a stranger to me, decided to send me a note of encouragement. This note contained a page of prose that he had written to encourage his own daughter who was also an artist. The words sprang from the page with such motivation and enthusiasm that I began to think that continuing down the path of art might just be a great idea; more than that - it was a destiny that awaited me if I would "just keep painting." He shared it as a way of believing in me, and it was at a time when I barely believed in myself, much less my art. It was a game-changer. It was a life-changer. What Theo meant to Vincent, this stranger meant to me. When many years later I was asked to have a an art show in St. Augustine Florida, I invited this stranger-now-friend to attend. His name is Bob Anderson. he came to my show. I am so grateful that a stranger decided to reach out with encouragement to a brand new artist with 5 paintings to her name; who didn't even know if she would paint anything else, who now has almost 20 years of painting behind her.
One of the things that becoming an artist did for me was uncover a desire that was already in my heart - a desire to be a cheerleader to others who are desiring to capture a dream. And this is the reason that I began teaching art and developed my "Discover the Artist in You" series. As I began to paint and then to teach I realized that what I needed and what most people need is a little courage to try something new - or try something again. Courage to try and courage to persevere. And to my surprise, I found that as I had been given courage by Bob Anderson, I now had courage to spare.
It is one of my greatest joys to help others to pursue their dreams of creativity - whether in painting, writing, sewing, opening a store, or refinishing old furniture - I will be your fan! And I will cheer you on. Someone did it for me - and it changed my life. Life change can happen. If you are in need a of a little courage, let me be the one to share... 'cause I have courage to spare.
P.S. Do you need courage for dreams you are pursuing in 2020?