It is what I do, it is who I am. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t paint. As a child, I would pull the large leaves from the tree in the front yard, paint on them and sell them from door-to-door. Gracious neighbors bought my leaves for 10 cents and would invite me to come back when I had more leaves to sell. Thus, I began my first marketing and sales adventure.
There seems to be a pivotal point in most people’s lives when something happens to them that is life changing. This is my story: I had finally saved enough money to attend my first out-of-state art workshop and I was so excited. I made arrangements for someone to stay with my children and I was off to a weeklong adventure. On the third day of the workshop the instructor, who is an extremely gifted and talented artist, came to me and said, “You can’t draw and you can’t paint, what are you doing in my workshop.” I was devastated!! I had been painting and selling my work for years and now I was being told that I didn’t know how to do what I loved doing. Discouraged, I packed my supplies and left, never returning for the last two days of the workshop. For one year after that experience, I questioned my ability to do anything artistic. I didn’t lift up a paint brush for over a year.
Then . . . I got mad! I decided that no one was ever going to tell me that I didn’t know how to paint. I purchased more canvases and got out my paints. I read every book I could find on art and artists. I started an in-home art library and started taking workshops from other artists, who acted as my mentors and cheerleaders. I was told by other gifted and talented artists, that I was extremely skilled and should consider a full-time career as an artist. So, what started off as a negative experience, propelled me into a world of productivity and success. I’m no longer mad, only grateful that I didn’t allow one person to destroy my passion and my dreams. To anyone who has a desire to follow their love or painting, I would say, “Don’t let anyone determine your dreams or your successes. Learn from your mistakes. Continue to gain knowledge for books and from people. Keep a positive attitude. You have more potential than you can imagine. Find a mentor. Most important . . . Trust yourself.”
After years of “dreaming” about having a studio of my own, I took a leap of faith and sold my home in order to purchase a new one that would provide me space for a studio. With a studio of my own, combined with my passion and experience in teaching others, I was able to create “Merrill Fine Arts Studio.” I immediately started teaching classes and when the space became too small for the number of students, I developed a personal studio and a separate student study. If you have a desire to paint . . . don’t wait . . . start now. Find someone’s work AND attitude that will inspire you! As for me, when I leave my position at Weber State University, I will expand my studio into an art school and teach full-time. I will invite other gifted artists who know how to encourage others to join in the fun of helping others.