I'm often asked, "How did you get started painting?" For a while, my standard response was, "Well, I've always kinda done it." Then, about two years ago, my answer changed. I was at a party making small talk, and of course this question came up. I was about to mutter my go-to reply when the lightbulb in my head clicked on, and magically, I could remember the exact moment that I first picked up a paint brush. Summer of 1996, Shurlington Baptist Church, Macon, Georgia. It's funny how that happens.
Growing up, my grandmother was always after me to go to church with her so it came as no shock when she invited me to their annual "vacation bible school." Being a teenager on summer break, the last place you want to be is cooped up in a church all day. I could usually come up with an excuse to get out of these things but this time she persisted. And I'm glad she did. The youth pastor, Steve Smith, was big into painting so our arts and crafts project for the week was a landscape painting on canvas. I remember sitting down on the first day and following along with his demo. I was immediately hooked! I couldn't wait to come back the next day and the next so that I could work on my painting. Although I'm sure it was terrible, I remember being so proud of it! If only I still had it today...I'm kicking myself for not keeping up with it.
Sadly, my grandmother passed away last year in March. However, when it came time for us to clean out her house, I was blessed with a small consolation. Tucked away in the back of her closet was the demo that Steve had painted that week! They were really close friends back then so it makes sense that he gave it to her. I immediately staked my claim and the painting now has a prominent spot on my studio bookshelf.
I'm so grateful that my Grandmother invited me to church that week and I'm thrilled that she held on to this wonderful memento for all of these years. Sometimes, I even wonder if I would be a painter today had I not gone. So now when I'm asked, "how did you start painting?," I simply smile and think back on my grandmother's persistence. It's hard to go wrong when you listen to your grandmother.
AND, here's little bonus for reading my post this week: A picture of me at 16 with one of my first paintings. Don't laugh too hard!