|@2011 Claudia Ballard, Grandpa's Barn, 8x10 acrylic on canvas panel|
My amazing mother made sure that growing up we always had a cigar box full of crayons, watercolor and tempera paints, lots of paper, and anything else that would spark our creativity. Later our neighbor, who was an elderly Russian gentleman and an accomplished artist before arthritis crippled his hands, was generous enough to pass along a beginning artist’s oil set when I had just entered my teens. As I fingered the canvas, brushes, table easel, palette, and of course, paints, I thought I had the greatest treasure possible.
Life takes lots of twists and turns and I spent many years pursuing my love of quilting…which in my mind was painting with fabric. Several years ago to cope with the stress of caregiving, I found myself coming back to the easel, this time to watercolors and then acrylics. When I am painting, everything around me slows down and I can focus on the story unfolding on my canvas. Sometimes you wrangle with the paint trying to make it cooperate and behave on the canvas to finish the image you have in your head. But always I step away from the finished work and think (no matter how sad it may look), wow, I made that! There is the marvelous feeling of accomplishment, of having made something with your hands.
Now my good friend, Gainesville artist Linda Blondheim, has bestowed another generous gift. Over this next year, I—along with Harold Barrand, Terri West, Lynn Biddlecomb—will benefit from her mentorship. Hard work, yes. Scary, yes. But when we reach the end of this year, I hope to stand back from my easel and say I am a better artist….and that the adventure is just beginning.