I have been ask many times how I began in sculpting and painting. I thought I would share a little about me and my beginnings since I am ask this all the time. I don't profess to be the greatest in what I do as I see many greats and I believe every artist is a work in progress and we grow and get better over time. I am still a work in progress. Usually when I am ask this question I vaguely answer as sharing the most private parts of my early life is not easy. So, how did I start??
I started as early as I can remember with paper snips, glue and crayons all over my mother's living room floor. I was a extremely shy child and my elementary school teachers worried I did not participate enough. It literally made me physically ill to stand up in front of a class or even raise my hand even if I knew the answer. It was in Art class where I excelled. Too say art class was my favorite class was putting it mildly as I lived for it. My art teacher Mr. Shriner took a special interest in me and to this day I will always be grateful to him. I won my first ribbon and first place in Elementary school of a drawing of a mother possum in a tree with her babies hanging from her. I still have the special ribbon Mr. Shriner made me. He was so proud of me.
Here comes the difficult part to share. I am still hesitant to share, but if for one moment my story can help another than it was worth sharing one of my most private parts of me. Before I begin I will say I love my father dearly. My home life had its good times but there were many traumatic and life threatening times the kind where books are made. My mother and I were even homeless at one time as we were told for our safety it was best we leave. (I will spare the details as they are too painful and can make me spiral into sadness). It wasn't until later in my mid-teen years my father was diagnosed as a schizophrenic. He was also in a car accident that left him disabled. My mother worked very hard to hold our family together I believe she was a great woman with great strength. I didn't bring many friends home for the embarrassment of my home life and if I did I considered you my greatest of friends. I cried many times to myself on the way home from school in my seat on the bus wondering if when I got home if it would be a good day or a bad day. So, why is this important?? because my sanctuary was going to school and ART class as that was where I felt the most joy. I disappeared into the world of imaginary and creating. For that one hour I had escaped the hells of my home life . I can't begin to explain how much that meant to someone like me. The kindness I was given by my art teachers saved my soul I believe to this day. ART was my savior. My father died when I was 16 and it was a day of sadness but also a day of knowing the hells were over. Like I said, I do love my father and it took me many years to realize he was mentally ill. I forgive him.
I married the love of my life at 19 and he was a Army soldier we lived very poorly on a soldiers income. We even ate vegetable soup for an entire month aggghhhh took many years to eat it again. I have 2 grown children with 3 grandchildren. (They are the joys of my life) In our early years of married life I began sculpting tiny miniatures and people kept asking to buy the things I made so I began selling my miniatures and ornaments of all kinds. I even did the craft show circuit for many years. In 2000 my mother died of cancer and I was her primary caregiver till the end and I then made the decision to drop out of all shows that year to care for my mother. I stopped creating for a short time as the loss of my mother was devastating to me. She was a talented woodworker and we created together so losing her was like losing a big part of me. The one thing she said to me and I am trying to this day live up too is don't wait to do the things you want to do or think you will do when you retire because we are never promised tomorrow and you may not be able to do them. I can remember her and my older brother begging me to go to Art school, but I wouldn't listen as I knew we were poor and no money to go. I decided when she passed away I wanted to do something with meaning in life and I knew I always loved caring for others. I worked for many years as a CNA in a nursing home. It was there I began creating again. I thought I was helping others and little did they know they were helping me heal enough to begin creating once again. I stated a program in our personal care area of our nursing home and began making Art with the elderly. It got to the point everyday when I walked in they wanted to know what are we going to do today. We poured concrete, painted, sculpted, etc... I found my joy again. The one moment I will never forget is when a 90 something farmer man said to me " I never thought I would be sitting here with a bunch of ladies at 90 something making and painting bunnies but I am having the time of my life". To this day it is now a mandatory program that I began, that the CNAs have to do a program with the residents. WOW see how things come full circle. Art is the joy to ones soul even when you think all is lost or gone. I found a way to share my joy with others.
Teaching how did I begin? I was taking items I created over to Meadowbrooke gourds to sell and I was ask if I would consider teaching. Well, my very outgoing husband answered for me and said yes. I can still remember the panic feeling and my heart pounding and I was so mad at him. Let's just say when we got in the car I could have killed him I said you know how backward I can be. I can never stand up in front of others and teach. He is my biggest cheerleader and motivator. He's like ,but you have so much to offer and you would be so good at it blahh blahh blahhh lol. I pulled up my big girl panties and thought what's the worst that can happen I pass out?? Yes I was a basket case at first but as the class progressed and everyone was so nice I found OMG I love this. I am sharing what I love to do and others are enjoying it. It was then I began teaching monthly classes and the classes were booking full. I taught for a few years there and I am so grateful to Meadowbrooke for that opportunity. I then later opened my own small studio to begin teaching sculpting and am so humbled by how far people have traveled to take classes with me. It is my desire to share what I love and the joys in creating and you just never know who may need it the way I did when I was younger and if for just one moment I can give that to someone else then I can say my life has been complete. That is why I continue to share and teach what I love to do!! My journey is still going and last fall I traveled to HOOT convention in Ohio with my good friends Jane and Amy and I was so overwhelmed by the support and kindness given to me by the art community saying Thank You is simply not enough. I came home from HOOT and gave my notice to quit my day job as a CNA to per sue ART full time. I 'm not sure how long it will last, but I am enjoying the journey because we never do really know how much time we have. I would never have dreamed from my earlier beginnings, I would later in life say I am a published artist in books (Now on shelves in Hobby Lobby), magazines and a creator for bird feeders in the Philly Zoo and many others. WOW is all I can say and I am humbled! I hope my mom sees me living my dreams . One last thought and one of my favorite sayings: Live your life in such a way that if anyone every speaks badly of it no one would ever believe it. So, go spread the love, kindness and the joy in ART because you never know who it just might save. We also, have a choice is life how we want to treat others and kindness goes a long way. Blessings Wendy