Doesn't everyone love to feel validated? PHS assistant editor, Sherri Skanes, catches us up
with some life changes and the validation she recently experienced.
Ever since I could hold a crayon, I have been an artist. Mystically, magically, the ability to draw burst from my fingertips like little bolts of lighting. It was not hereditary. Most of my family would be hard pressed to draw a straight line. It just appeared, and it amazed everyone, including myself!
Recently I moved across the country and settled down in a small town in the Midwest. I didn’t know anyone here, but decided the best way to meet my neighbors was to get involved in the community. I joined the local Arts Council and before I knew it, I volunteered to donate some paintings for a fund raising art auction.
Each participant was given one or more 5" x 7" canvases for their project. Some people glued their photos to the canvas. Some used scraps of paper or fabric to create a design. Children finger-painted. I decided to use acrylic paint, and I wanted to use a subject that was sure to be in demand, so I scoured some home décor magazines for what was currently trending. Several times I came across the “farmhouse” style and it always seemed to include a painting of a cow face, or a pig, or even chickens! So I decided to paint a young calf face on my canvases and set to work.
Since the canvas was quite small, I decided on a style with bold strokes—something more stylistic than realistic. Trying to paint minute details with my aging eyes would be impossible. I wanted it to look like I had fun painting it. Sometimes I post pictures of my works in progress on social media. When I finished the first piece, I posted it, and the response was encouraging. I had a few exuberant friends who wanted to buy the painting, even though I stated it was for a charity. Their reaction fed my creativity, and the second calf was completed in record time.
The night of the big event the main street of our small town was closed, and masses of tables, chairs, and a bandstand appeared. Lights and banners were strung across the storefronts. People swarmed in and soon the place was buzzing with music, laughter, and excited chatter. Tickets were sold for samplings of food and drinks from all the local establishments. I was a bundle of nerves. I desperately wanted my art to raise a decent amount of money!
There were nearly one hundred donated works of art, all framed and displayed with great care, each with a corresponding form for bidders to enter their price. Much to my surprise—and complete joy!—a bidding war started with both of my paintings!
When all was said and done, my little calves raised quite a bit of money. Yay! I was also able to meet the young girl who was determined to have one of them. She told me she raised a calf for 4H, and it would be sold at auction in the fair the following week. It was going to be hard for her to say goodbye, and since my painting looked just like her calf, it would be a sweet reminder of her adventures with her special charge. Tears welled in my eyes. It was the most rewarding feeling I could have as an artist!
As I watched the paintings leave with their new owners, a tall man rushed in.
“The cows!” he bellowed. “Where are the cows?”
Someone told him the bidding was closed and he was too late. His body deflated and he tried to catch his breath.
“My wife sent me… have to get a cow… at any price! Who bought them… who painted them?”
I stepped forward and said I painted them. He whipped out a hundred dollar bill and dangled it under my nose. “What will it take for you to paint another? I can’t go home without a cow.”
I was a bit speechless. Word had apparently gotten out to those not in attendance that there were COWS to be had! But I couldn't whip one out in five minutes, it takes a couple of days to paint one, so I didn't know how to respond. He began to beg.
“We are expecting our first grandchild next week, and our daughter wants one more than anything, to complete her nursery. My wife told me not to come back unless I had a cow!”
His last sentence sent me into a fit of giggles. Realizing what he’d just said, he joined me. I patted his back and told him to breathe deep—we would work this out. Having experienced the joy of my own first grandchild last year, I knew he was wearing his heart on his sleeve.
Needless to say, I spent the next few days re-creating one of the calves on a much larger canvas, suitable for the soon-to-be-born baby boy's nursery. I sent the buyers pictures of the progress. When I delivered the completed painting to the man’s wife, she was on the phone with their daughter who anxiously asked, “Do you have it yet?”
With a triumphant smile, the mother exclaimed, “Yes! It’s gorgeous! It’s perfect!”
The whole experience left me feeling validated… And appreciated. So much so, I decided to enter a new piece in the county fair—along with some crochet work, and maybe some jams—and in a prestigious fine art show later in the month. I am meeting all kinds of wonderful people from my community because of my art, but the best part is, I truly feel I have found “home”!
Sherri Skanes is an aspiring author, artist, and proud mother of a United States Marine.
You can follow her adventures in life on Twitter.
Have you had a big change in your life? Have you had your hard work validated?
Tell us in the comments or join the #MyWorld discussion on our Social Media.