As an artist I have a tendency to feel like a failure for so many reasons; I don't use my talent enough, I don't make enough money selling art, I have too many other things I need to do, like to do, I don't draw every day, I don't work enough from live models, I'm not in a bunch of fancy galleries....When I allow those things to fill my mind making art becomes depressing instead of a joy. Then there will come opportunities that remind me what is really important about me making art. Today was one of those times.
   These last few months I've enjoyed making some special art for some special people. A portrait for a friend from high school who's daughter, Whitney, died in an accident last year, two pet portraits, one for a dear neighbor who's dog had died suddenly and one for a great online friend of her daughter and chickens, and a commissioned portrait of a long time family friend, the father of a wonderful family of people. This commission was a gift from all the kids to the mom, to celebrate the life of her husband, their father, who had been in a coma since an accident earlier in the year.
   When I do these kind of paintings I really have to get myself in the right frame of mind. I pray a lot. I want the painting to be right for the people who are going to receive it. For me that involves opening myself up to the Spirit, so I can tap into the personality and the soul of the person or animal I am painting, especially if the subject has passed or is going to pass soon. 

   Painting this special portrait of Richard Grimshaw was a real privilege for me. While I was painting I didn't feel an ounce of sadness, even though it was a sad time. Richard is an amazing person and he was hurt and his body wasn't working correctly. His family was hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, but all I felt was happiness. I felt this family's love and respect for each other. I felt their keen intellect and quirky sense of humor, their joy in each other, and I felt that Richard would love this painting. It felt right. 
   I was so fun to see these friends I grew up with and hadn't seen in years and deliver this painting to them to give to their wonderful mom for Christmas. I received joy from their joy. They had a wonderful Christmas together and this morning when I got the news that Richard's health had quickly taken a turn for the worse, and that he had passed peacefully to the other side, I was completely overwhelmed. Not with sadness, although that is there, but with a flood of the Spirit. Here's what I felt. I felt Richard and then I felt Whitney and Terry and Kristi's baby, and many others who I've been privileged to paint. I felt their gratitude towards me. I felt their great love for their families, their joy at having lived on the earth with these wonderful people, I felt their happiness. They are very happy where they are. Yes, even the animals in their own way. The flood of emotions was too much for me. I bore my testimony at church and had to come home, stick my face in a bowl of ice water, have some chocolate, and reapply my make up before I could go back because I was way beyond the ugly cry.
   And here's what I'm taking from this experience. What an honor it is to have talents given to us. They come from God and if we can use them to bring light to the lives of others then it doesn't matter what the world thinks of your talents, you are not a failure. Also, what a privilege it is to be alive. What an honor it is to get to know people and have a glimpse into the things that make them them. There is no one else like them in the world and they are still themselves when they leave this world. The sadness, the things that bug us, the shortcomings we have all seem to drop away and the thing that is left is love.

The Chicken Chick