Our Story as Featured in The Turquoise Iris Journal Magazine

When I heard this issue’s theme is SPARK, I knew I needed to write this. A Spark is such a fragile thing. It can be snuffed out as quickly as it ignites, or it can take on life and grow into a flame that changes everything!

For me it was small thing, almost unnoticeable. Just a few words from an artist I admired. I can still hear Anissa Perry telling me she believed I could paint canvas, and when I got brave enough to try to reach out to her. Of course I blew her off! I wasn’t “artist” like her. I was “just” a furniture painter. Little did I know! The spark was lit… a pale ember barely glowing. But her words kept playing in my head… could I possibly?

I’d been told my whole life that I wasn’t talented and couldn’t paint. But her words became a challenge. I started devouring everything she shared and finally reached out and let her teach me.

I wasn’t good, but that didn’t stop me from trying and learning. I do have to pause here and say the spark was there but not really growing. I was still “just” a furniture painter playing with canvas. You see, a spark needs to be fed to grow and all I had to feed it was doubt and unbelief.

Then the moment that changed everything happened. My mom, a woman who always said she wasn’t creative at all, had been watching me play with paint and canvas. She asked me if I thought she could learn to paint too?

I remember our 1st “lesson”. She was afraid to hold the brush so sure she was going to ruin the canvas, but she did it! I felt so much joy and pride in her!!! From that moment I saw a spark light in her eyes and soul.

For the next 2 years we painted together in my studio sending photos back and forth when we weren’t together, sharing our work on canvas. I introduced her to teaching group so she could learn and grow more confident. Experiencing her journey with her was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done!

On their 52nd wedding anniversary in June 2020, tragedy hit, and we lost my Dad. Painting canvas became her therapy, escape, and healing. In the next year we painted together as often as we could. We made so many trips for art supplies we didn’t really need. Out first Christmas without Dad, she hand-painted Christmas cards for all of us. Such a small thing and yet life changing in many ways she never knew.

In August 2021, my heart was shattered. Mom joined Dad in Heaven. My reason for painting, just gone, spark forgotten or so I thought. It took me weeks to do more than sit and stare into space.  After a month of darkness, I began to watch videos and lives from Anissa, Dionne, and Kristin. I cried at night on Kristin’s shoulder through messages and marco polo’s. The Dionne began talking about the retreat in Galveston and needing swag bag items.

I felt more than heard Mom’s voice whisper, “You should do something”. I can’t, I whispered back. “Paint something”, she said. “I can’t! Canvas is too big and there are 50 women going”, I replied.  Painting was the last thing I felt like doing with her gone. Then I saw the card she had done for me for Christmas the year before. The one that sat over my easel, reminding me of her and how excited she had been to create them for us. “Do that” she said.

And so, I did. And once I started, I couldn’t stop. I hand-painted 50 cards.  But it was less than 2 weeks to the retreat. They would never get there on time and I had just wasted all that time painting. The spark flickered. “Go take them yourself” I could hear her telling me. “Are you crazy?!” That was a very long way and I’d have to go alone and then the tickets, no way. But the idea had sparked and was growing. I told my husband and a friend the crazy idea, so sure they would tell me how crazy it was. They both told me to go! I suddenly felt a burst of fire in my soul!  And going was the best decision ever!

As I worked to finish the cards my daughter came to me. “Mom, you need to sell these”. She laid out her plan for my cards and I felt excitement grow. She got photos and I took the originals for the retreat. I shared my thoughts and new found dreams of a card collection with Dionne just before the retreat and felt my belief and desire to create returning with a new direction and fire!

The cards were put in the swag bags and given out to all the beautiful and amazing women there! And I was blown away by the response. I never expected those simple handpainted cards to be so loved! Suddenly, there were shops interested in carrying them! I was asked if cards were always part of my business plan. No! Not even on my radar until two weeks ago. All because of Mom!  A small spark turned to a roaring fire!  A small dream grew into a chance to touch people in meaningful ways!

Today, I have a line of Christmas/Winter cards featuring my art available, two more collections in print and a new Spring and Valentine’s Day collection launching here. All because of a SPARK! Simple words from Anissa, my Mom’s passion for learning and painting, and mom’s thoughtful and treasured hand-painted Christmas card.

I hope in some way to pay it forward and ignite that small flame in others. Such a small thing that can change your life! Believe in it, feed it, but most of all, share it! Others need to see your SPARK.

I know what you’re thinking, “I’m too small to make a difference”. I’m not good enough, experienced enough, not important enough. I know because I felt the same way…still do sometimes.  Yet, remember this, Anissa had only been painting canvas for a couple of months when she spoke words that started my journey, she had no idea how she would impact my Mom’s life, bring healing and joy to someone she never even met. Mom had only been painting a year when she did the cards, simple gifts, and all she could afford. She thought they were not much but they are priceless and sparked a whole new direction for my business. That spark she shared with us sent me on a journey filled with new opportunities and valuable friendships.

Share your spark! Let it be filled with colors! Let it flare into a roaring fire! A simple word of encouragement from you, the simple gift of a handwritten card, or maybe just a smile given to a stranger…that could be the very thing that ignites that Spark in someone else! And isn’t that why we are here?