When I was a little girl, my Dad used to read the story of The Little Engine That Could. And although I didn’t fully grasp the potential of the concept when I was small, I grew to love this book and I still remember the animated voices my Dad used when he read it to me. It was mesmerizing to think that a little blue train – not the biggest, strongest or the most qualified train – but a little train with heart, determination, and optimism could make a big impression and complete it’s journey over the mountain.
It thought it could, so it did.
This past week I’ve been thinking a lot of when I first started painting. Ten years ago when I started playing around with the idea of doing art, I picked up a few art instructional books by Walter Foster. I poured myself into them not knowing if I was doing things correctly, but I was enjoying the process. I’ve always been drawn to art, but when I first started doing it “for reals”, I was teaching myself everything from these books. And I was so insecure in myself that I thought everything I was teaching myself was the incorrect way. Nobody even knew I tinkering in art…I kept it all to myself. I felt I needed guidance for someone to tell me how to do specific techniques, or to confirm if I was doing it right. It wasn’t until a couple years later that I took a watercolor class locally. It was an elderly art teacher and she had been doing a variety of different mediums a very long time. She was so laid back and gentle in her approach and for the first time I realized that art wasn’t necessarily about doing things a certain way, it was about expression, where you were at that time, what you were drawn to, and what inspired you. Art had more to do with conveying expression through color and texture than it had to do with literal art “rules.” And this opened my eyes.
I was hooked.
Little did I know the journey I was on.
I just enjoyed it, so I continued. I was eager to learn and challenge myself. I didn’t think I was necessarily headed in any particular direction; it was a therapeutic hobby. I didn’t even know that my art was defining itself over time. It just seemed to happen. Then one day (recently) I looked back at my original sketches that I did when I had first started “formally” sketching and it was all there…my style. It’s always been inside of me. Yes my work has matured, and I have learned many more techniques since then, but the same vibe is there.
I still consider myself a student, and I feel I have so much more to learn. But I think I can do it. I think I can get to where I want to go.
Like the little blue engine that could.
For several years now I’ve had a passion about pattern design, albeit it was a closet dream of mine and I honestly didn’t have a clue how my art would tie into it. Then for some odd reason, everything at once just clicked. And I discovered Rachel Taylor’s “The Art and Business of Pattern Design” school; and I thought, “Wow, this is where I need to be.” I showed it to my hubby and he studied it (as he does everything…I think that’s a military thing), and that evening he came up to me and said, “You need to do this. This is in line with exactly what you’ve been talking about for the last few years.” And I cried…because I love how much he gets me.
So I signed up, and then they had a scholarship competition and I applied. I didn’t know at the time that over 300 people from 39 different countries were also applying for the scholarship. Had I known, I probably would not have submitted anything because I would have thought I didn’t have much of a chance (ya know, with all the talented people out there). Because as much as I try to stay positive, I am my biggest enemy.
But I applied for the scholarship. This was my entry:
And I ended up being in the top 10. I won the first class of the series, Module 1.
I was shocked.
Lil’ ole me. I’m not the strongest artist, not the most qualified, not well-known…and all that really isn’t important to me.
I still don’t know where this journey will take me, but I’m open to the possibilities. I started class this week and I’m excited to be on a path. I feel like everything has lead up to this point, and I’m ready for it.
I think I can do this.