Preserving the Past

Bethel Presbyterian church

Preserving our past to make a transition into the future is an awesome goal. Most people steer away from this challenge. Too much money, too much time., and not having the patience to follow through.  In all, just not worth the wear and tear. Fortunately, there are people who are willing to take on the project. I had the great opportunity to meet such a person recently.

John Dilks bought a house in Macon, Mississippi built-in 1850. Indeed it was a grand house in its day, but time and water have not been kind to it. I remember it as a place to house antiques for sale. I loved browsing among the antiques and thinking what a sad state the house had become. In the 1970’s the house was purchased by a Mrs. Taft who undertook its restoration. She did an amazing job considering the state of the house, but Mrs. Taft died ,and the house has sat vacant for the last few years.

A house with no people in it suffers. The gutter at the very top of the house did not work anymore allowing water to fall down on to the left pillar and to run under the house causing rot. The new owner did not know the amount of damage until he began to remove the lead based paint on the outside. His idea is to literally scrape all of the exterior paint down to the wood. That is when he discovered multiple problems. Mounting problems would have been enough for most people to wring their hands and say it cannot be done. However, that is not his intention; he is in it for the long haul.

John Dilks has renovated interiors in the past but never the exterior and certainly not to this extent. The sills underneath the house have all been replaced. The house is not level so the house will be jacked up seven inches with jacks dating from the 1800’s. Water must be diverted downhill away from the house. New porches will be built. Old lumber has been found to replace rotten exterior boards. He has collected marble fireplaces waiting to be placed in the downstairs rooms. He plans to rebuild the cupola which once grandly topped the house. The amount of work to be done is mind-boggling, but fortunately there is a person like John Dilks willing to take on the task. It will be a show stopper when the work is completed.

Other people who take on the daunting task of restoration in Mississippi come to mind. Darryl Hollingsworth has taken on the job of restoring downtown Vicksburg one building at a time. In all he has restored and brought back to life sixteen buildings. I first met Darryl Continue reading “Preserving the Past”

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The Value of Struggling

    We have a tendency to underestimate the importance of struggling. Recently, my son made me very aware of this importance. Math has never been my strong suit, but it is very necessary to know the rudiments to engage in the world. Working on my art degree, I saw no reason for me to take Algebra. A waste of my time, I told myself. In obtaining my first degree, I could reach the math expectation by taking Business Math. Now, this was a practical course I knew I would need for the rest of my life. Years later I am working on a BFA degree and I am told I must take Algebra to graduate with the coveted BFA degree.

How did I handle this situation staring me in the face? I procrastinated thinking surely I don’t have to take this course. Finally, after I had completed everything the art department had to offer, I began to think about pursuing Algebra seriously. Graduation was my driving force. I quickly began to realize what struggling is. 

If I had to take this course,  I was going to be into the class 100%. I sat on the front row in order to see the board better. I did all of the homework which thankfully counted as 20% of the grade. I went to tutoring classes twice a week, and I asked questions. All of the homework and tests were on the computer. If you messed up the homework three times, you had to start over. Just trying to juggle the computer was enough to send me over the edge.  Then, there was the first test.

 I studied hard and entered the test day with confidence. My hopes were quickly dashed when I received my grade. Algebra is not forgiving. If you leave off a comma or a bracket, the whole problem is wrong. How was I ever going to get through the semester?

Rather than throwing in the towel, I kept struggling and forging ahead. Thankfully, I did every bit of the homework. Most important, by sitting on the front row, the teacher knew I was really trying. Thanks to this teacher, I did pass, and I did pass the course and walked across the stage at graduation and did receive the BFA degree. When I walked out of the door, I shut my life on Algebra and said I would never think about finding the unknown again.

   That is until recently six years later, my son made me see how Algebra has helped me. We were discussing his son taking Algebra. I commented that I could understand the problems the son was having, and gave my same answer that Algebra has no reason for most people. That is when my son made me realize I had the wrong attitude.

I argued and said there was absolutely no reason that I needed to take Algebra. “Now, Mom, at your age, you are one of the most alert people I know. )He works in the emergency room at night, and he sees all kind of patients). He made me realize that through all of my struggling I had added lots of gray matter to my brain. “It forced you to work hard on something you did not like, and you did not give up.” I then for the first time realized that all of my hand wringing, tears, and staying up late working on problems was not in vain. I may not have made a high grade, but all of that struggling made me a more focused, alert person. I learned that is okay to make mistakes. I learn from my mistakes. Don’t be afraid to learn something new. Finally, I realized that, yes, it is very important for students to take Algebra.

What does all of this have to do with my art? I begin a painting with one idea in mind. Suddenly things go wrong; mistakes, it is not what I had in mind. The first thought is to throw the whole thing in the trash can and start over. No, that is not a good option. I have learned how to correct mistakes in watercolor. Watercolor is one of the hardest mediums to work with and takes much patience. I keep working with the painting until I achieve what I want. Many of my best paintings have come from almost giving up and starting over to continuing on. These paintings have turned out to be my best work. Perhaps I will never sit down and work an Algebra problem, but it has helped me to be very focused, to do my very best work, and to never give up. I have quit complaining about taking the course. I see Algebra in completely new light. Continue reading “The Value of Struggling”

Sharing Your Talent

Layering of Gingko Leaves

A Layering of Gingko Leaves is a painting I will be sharing with my college alum to help support scholarships. Donating art is donating a part of yourself to help others and to promote art. Donating your valuable time is certainly a way to share. God gives all of us talents. It is up to us how to use this gift. Do we bury our talent afraid that someone may copy us and miss out on opportunities to connect with others? There are so many ways to share our talent. God has given all of us talents. When you share this ability, your talent seems to increase. Plus, the people you meet along the way become an important part of your life. My life is very fulfilled; “my cup runneth over “.

Sharing your talent can mean teaching. I am realizing how much fun it is to share with others the processes I have previously learned. My two students look forward to their once a week lessons. One is a young student who is learning how to draw, and the other student is older who is learning watercolor. Certainly diverse in age and in medium but equal in their enthusiasm to learn. My joy is watching them stretching and losing their timidity to learn more and more. And, yes I am being forced to reiterate every thing I have learned to be able to teach.

Do not be afraid to share your art ideas with other artists. Recently, I have been given the opportunity to create a group with three other artists. The idea was to get together once a month to critique each others art. Our getting together has emerged into much more. Working from four different medians and four different backgrounds, we have so much to share. You cannot imagine how much energy is created with four women who brainstorm and promote each other.

I challenge you to share with others your talents. You will find much satisfaction. Continue reading “Sharing Your Talent”

Waiting for Spring: Winter Dawn on a Plowed Field

IWinter Dawn on a Plowed Field

I painted this picture to  make viewers aware there is beauty in nature in the dead of winter. Early in the morning the sun rises bringing the rosy pinks, oranges and purples across the sky. Color is found in the lavender grays of the bare branches contrasted with the dark green of the cedar trees. Notice the soil has the mixture of colors with the rising of the sun: pinks, oranges, turquoise.

At the end of harvest, the prairie soil was plowed to lie dormant during the winter months taking in the rains and possible snow anticipating the spring to once again warm the soil waiting for new seeds to be dropped into the earth.

Winter is a period of waiting through shorter days and cold weather. We yearn for spring bursting forth with yellows of daffodils and bright green of new growth. But, winter is a time for quieter thinking, for reflection. As we approach the season of Lent,  we can take the time to slow down enough to see God’s beauty all around us. Continue reading “Waiting for Spring: Winter Dawn on a Plowed Field”