"A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instill a love of learning."
When I was a little girl, I loved to paint, draw, color, doodle, scribble......anything art related. Almost every time I received a gift from a family member, it was art supplies. I used them up regularly and would get more........which was usually crayons and paper since we lived in rural Kentucky and there wasn't a Michaels on every street corner. Not even a Walmart. Crayons were fine with me. I just loved to be creative. It was very life giving to me and still is.
My Mother was wonderful about making sure I got time to be creative. And she also decided that perhaps, since I showed a bit of artistic promise, I should have a little training. Other than having a fabulous 5th grade teacher that was also an artist, himself, there wasn't a lot of options for art instruction where I'm from. My Mom finally found someone she thought could help me across the border into Vansant, VA, about 40 minutes from where we lived. So we hauled over there once week so I could have a little instruction.
My teacher's name was Melba. She was lovely. She opened up a whole new world of art to me called......Acrylic Paints. Oh, Glory!! I had never used acrylic paint before!! Only egg tempera or poster paints......cheap school stuff. But Acrylics??? They were smooth and vibrant and if you made a mistake...they were thick enough to cover things up and start again!! What?? Where did these amazing paints come from? Where could I possibly get them?? JC Penny's mail order?? I don't know. But Melba had them. And she shared them with me.
She let me look through beautiful photos and magazines and pick out what I wanted to paint. It was so exciting to choose. And when I was afraid I was choosing something too hard.....she encouraged me to do it anyway. How else was I to learn?? So we chose winter scenes, autumn scenes, covered bridges with running water and stone walls and more. She showed me how to see color in the snow instead of just white and black shadows. She taught me how to stipple leaves onto a tree and then add highlights and lowlights instead of just using one flat color. And she taught me that nomatter what my art looked like when it was complete, it was good. It may not look just like the photo I was painting or exactly how I wanted it to look.......but it was good. It's exactly as it should be right now. And that would magically give me confidence and the inspiration to try another painting.....move on to a tougher one.....something a little more challenging......and in time, she said I would get better.
I haven't seen or talked to Melba for maybe 30 years. We moved from Kentucky a long time ago and that ended my art instruction with her but not my love of acrylic painting. And just a couple weeks ago, I was cleaning out my studio and found 3 paintings I painted under her instruction. I was thrilled and immediately put them on my wall. Then about a week later, my Mom sent me a message that Melba had passed away. I hadn't heard her name in 30 years. But, my heart sank.
I looked at my paintings on the wall and thought of how encouraging she was. I remember how unbelievably proud I was of those paintings. I could tell where she had painted a little on it and the choppy areas where I tried to copy what she did. And as sad as I felt about the news, looking at those paintings made me feel warm. And proud. And happy. Melba inspired me so much. She had such an impact on my artwork. I still use some of the basic methods she taught me to this day. Amazing. And I am still an acrylic painter. I've shifted my style to folk art but still....an acrylic painter. And Melba was the absolute first introduction to that beautiful art medium for me.
I own a gallery now. I am an artist by trade. Several galleries and gifts shops around the country carry my work and I have shipped my artwork to buyers in several different countries. I'm not the best artist I know. Not even the 2nd best. Or the 3rd and so on. And my work doesn't always turn out exactly the way I see it in my head. Okay......it never turns out the way I see it in my head. Kind of like most everything else in my life, quite frankly.
But.....when I look at my latest painting......or my 'kind-of clean' house......or my last 'somewhat edible' dinner recipe.......or my failed attempt at patience with my kids........or anything else that tempts me to think I'm getting it alllllllll wrooooonnnnnngggggg.....
Thanks, Melba, for the inspiration. Looking forward to seeing you again.