I enjoy looking back and remembering my roots. Roots are important. Where did it begin? I couldn’t draw stick figures worth a whoop when I was small. I loved art and admired others and longed to be talented. I felt it would be so nice to just capture something, hold it and share it, but I couldn’t get the job done. I wandered around drooling over others doing it and figured it was talent, a gift (and it is) and I made excuses for not trying it because my attempts were pitiful at best and early on. I was shocked and even appalled when my close friend Jeanie Marshall in Flagstaff Az. suggested that I could and should learn to oil paint. ME? I laughed big time on that one and told her there wasn’t anyone on the earth that would take me on in that field. She said she would be glad to give me the basics and get me started. This is an accomplished artist telling me this? I wondered if it might be the end of a beautiful friendship if I took her up on it. She coaxed a bit and I finally decided to take a “why not” attitude and give it a whirl, leaving her an escape gracefully if we both failed miserably. She helped me get started in basic things and helped me buy supplies, being a good sport about it all, patient and very easy to work with. I watched her paint and she watched me slap mud on canvas and off we went on a very fun and wild, crazy, incomprehensible, eventful journey. One thing she said to me that has helped in many areas of my adventures of life, “Some people are talented, some just work hard to achieve, the talented ones often do nothing with their talent and the achievers can soar to great heights and great accomplishments because they want to do it..” That hit the right button for me. She described me to a T that day. I could work, I could toil, I might be able to achieve. Oil is forgiving and can be changed at any time and layers of paint isn’t going to damage anyone or anything and so I finally relaxed and I turned out a few good pieces. I had my own studio and bits and pieces of time to put into it. I came and went (as time allowed) from the studio projects and flow happened. When I sold my first piece, I was thrilled. I gave some as gifts and kept some for myself. Life progressed into busier than busy and then we sold, moved from Arizona where this began with Jeanie and I. I now had no studio and a new ranch to settle into, with a drive and desire lurking all the time to be painting on canvas. Don’t give me a can of paint and a paintbrush to fix up my place, if it isn’t on canvas, I hate it. During all this interim I turned to Photography because I didn’t need a studio and it was fast and a lovely form of art. I still missed bringing something to life on canvas and I still do, but time and no work space is not the way to do oil painting, at least for me. One of my ranch dog’s here on the new place lay dying and I needed to have something to do to occupy my mind and time while I sat beside her tending to her needs. Just prior to her taking ill, a cousin that visited me on my new property, who was also an accomplished artist selling his work, saw my art work on the wall, prompting him to mail me a special pencil and sketch pad telling me to do something with it. I bet he could hear my laugh all the way to Alaska. However, one day when I was pretty worried about my dog and needed to be near her, I picked up the pencil and sketch pad and grabbed a photo and decided to try my hand at it. I messed up a couple of starts but went at it again and in a few hours I had a nice pencil sketch (one I could share without hanging my head in shame) finished. There was my Gypsy before me on sketch pad. Then I remembered a pencil sketch I did of a calf one time that I was caring for and I went and looked at it. It was rough and made this one look better than I thought. I had progressed. That gave me hope and it reminds me of a portion of one of my favorite poems that I love, written by Emily Dickinson: Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all. (Thank you Emily for leaving this inspiration behind for many like myself, so long long ago). I sent the scanned copy of my very first serious pencil sketch to my cousin Larry Phillips in Alaska and he really surprised me with his positive reaction. He said he wasn’t expecting anything like that and encouraged me to try again. Next I did one of my daughter Hollye’s dog, that we lost to cancer, and from there I started doing more. Elk, bird, cabins, dogs. Testing it out. What I loved about it was I could do it without a lot of workspace, and it was easy to pick up and put down. I began to advance and others were positive in their response to my work and not just friends, many encouraged me to share this publicly. Finally my first reprints were out and ready to be sold. It is the piece called “Don’t Give Me the Boot”. Numbered reprints up for sale on this website, and it has a message all its own. All proceeds go to our dog rescue efforts. Who would have believed my journey would evolve this way? It was a journey of work even as Jeanie had said it would be, but again a labor of love. I found it very relaxing in time, and I could get lost in the moments with it. No man or woman is an island unto themselves, there are mentors and those that encourage, guide, help along life’s pathway. None of this was stepped out into in my youth. If we even succeed to achieve we have someone behind us that nudges, advises, inspires, aids and in doing so not only teaches us the ropes, but builds confidence and courage. I have talented artist friends that are full of talent and it flows for them naturally, but those that have excelled have been those that work to achieve, working hand in hand with natural talent. I tip my Cowgirl hat to them for I know how hard they have worked to make their talent flow to the public, to be a success. I have a little glimmer now. They have inspired me and this is my way in this blog of saying THANKS!