The initial thing that struck me about the photo my Grandmother took of the toddler me in her art studio – a photo I recently rediscovered in my mom’s family photo album this Christmas – was that the first portrait I painted in 2001, Inner Beauty Blooming, has the same off-to-the-side stare looking toward the same direction and wary facial expression! When I painted Inner Beauty Blooming, I had no recollection the picture of me even existed.
Inner Beauty Blooming was based on a photo of a girl I found in O, The Oprah Magazine and a cocktail napkin with an abstract flower. The thought behind the painting came after my divorce and going back to school to earn a doctorate degree – insurance I could always take care of myself and survive after not having a job for 4 ½ years to manage the business my soon-to-be-ex-husband and I had started together. I was not the moneymaker in the business, only the manager. You can imagine how exhilarating it felt to have my hubby take care of both of us in the early years – just like my dad had always done for my mom – and then the fear and frenzy when he decided he’d rather play golf than work. I watched from the sidelines frozen as our income dropped substantially from quarter to quarter. When the opportunity popped up seemingly from the blue – Divine Order anyone? – to teach a summer course at Texas Tech University, I nervously jumped at the chance. Super student evals and encouragement from my dean prompted me to purse a doctorate degree, eight years after completion of my master’s, and begin the journey of self-preservation. Even though I was scared – could I go back to school after eight years and not working for 4 ½? – and angry – how dare my ex put me in this position to have to start over! – I completed my doctorate degree, a four-year process, and landed a job as an assistant professor at a private university in Connecticut – a huge leap for a girl who had lived her whole life in West Texas and left all friends and family in Texas to start totally over in the North East. A new adventure and life!
Hence the name and concept behind my first portrait, Inner Beauty Blooming. The facial expression serious, a little wary and looking toward a hopeful, shimmering – although unknown – future. How amazing that the toddler me had the same expression and foretelling in the photo my Grandmother snapped in her art studio. I feel I’m currently in a new transition period – a new inner beauty blooming – moving toward my passion and destiny of becoming an artist.