Several years ago, Julia Blake and I discussed dreams over lunch; a year later in response to our conversation, she wrote Living My Dream. Julia has since layered in and is living another dream — that of being a painter/artist. AND…. she is going to share one of her paintings with you.
My mom rarely bought prepared foods and even more rarely junk food. If I wanted food I made it. One afternoon when I was 11 years old, I dreamed of chocolate fudge. I dug through my mom's recipes and found ‘Never Fail Fudge'. Perfect. I had never made fudge, but this recipe should have been easy. WRONG. It failed. Several times I attempted to make this fail-proof fudge. It never worked.
I also logged many hours in the kitchen watching both parents cook. Not only did I watch my mom cook daily, my dad was fearless. He took a candy making class and every December he spent hours and hours making the finest chocolates. Thanks to my parents' example I can make just about anything and many times I only use the recipe for inspiration. I'm constantly creating new dishes and most of the time they turn out, but it's ok when they don't.
At an even younger age, I dreamed of fancy clothes for my dolls so I would stir through my mother's fabric scraps, design, cut and sew them. They didn't always look very good and were often held together by pins, but that didn't stop me. I kept on sewing and soon the interesting creations were for me, not my dolls. My mother wouldn't buy me very many clothes, but she would always buy me fabric and patterns. I would do my best to sew clothes that kept with the trends which meant I often had to stray from the patterns; sometimes a lot. Now I can sew just about anything.
Painting didn't start out as a dream. I wasn't looking for another hobby. I wasn't looking for art work to hang on my walls. Frankly, I wasn't looking for anything. I just wanted to get to know artist Leslie Graff. I had met her briefly, found her to be bright, unique, positive, intriguing, generous etc. so I drove 45 minutes to attend one of her Open Studio nights. Leslie easily convinces men, women and children with no painting background and no requisite art skill or talent to sit and paint with her. Because people like to be with her and she helps people feel like they can do anything. I took a magazine clipping as my inspiration and I painted. It was a lot harder to paint than it looked and not very fun but I finished it, loved it and immediately hung it (see below) on my wall.
I wasn't done hanging out with Leslie so I went to Open Studio night a couple more times. Having now spent hundred of hours painting under Leslie's tutelage, my paintings have gotten progressively better. I started calling myself an artist. I wasn't afraid to paint anything. A friend of mine fell in love with this painting by Brian Kershisnik, but the prints were no longer available. I decided to try and reproduce it for her with no thought about my lack of formal training and experience. That had never stopped me before. When I nailed it (see below), my confidence and joy of painting took off. Sometimes I wonder if this is really happening to me; it feels like I'm in a dream where I just can't stop smiling.
A friend was recently praising me for my art work and then in a somewhat exasperated tone said “What can't you do?” Another friend heard about my journey to painting and had this insight: “Other people might have this in them, but they will never know it because they tell themselves they can't”. She's right.
With kids still at home, painting is about the only thing I do that stays done. I have my paintings all over my house. I'm not afraid to show them to anyone who walks in my door or to sell them and now I'm doing something I completely love and getting paid for it. Painting has helped me express some of my deepest feelings, beliefs and faith. It has also helped me work through difficult experiences and challenges elsewhere in my life. I wasn't looking for therapy, but it found me on my canvases. I look at the world in a whole new way and I see beauty where I didn't see it before and then I can't wait to paint it.
Some things don't require a fancy degree or previous experience.
You can decide to be fearless even if you haven't been in the past.
You might find something you really love.
Your dream just might find you.
What has found unexpectedly found you?
What dreams have you discovered because of your friends and loved ones?
Whose dreams have you nurtured?
What do you have in you, if you tell yourself you can?
Julia Bringhurst Blake loves to make things happen whether its a culinary feast for 200, an intimate gathering with friends, a quilt made from vintage fabrics or a studio full of paintings. She loves to travel, but not as much as she loves to stay home. When she starts a book she won't put it down until it's done. In fact, that's how she approaches most things. She paints every chance she gets and is pleased to consider herself an artist (www.juliablakeart.com). She renovated an old home in Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and six children.