By Peggy L. Ray
In my youth I always showed signs of artistic talent, both musically and in the art of drawing. Both seemed to define who I am and brought me untold hours of enjoyment. Although a junior high school art teacher told my mother that I should be encouraged to pursue art, I took the road of music for the most part, both instrumentally and vocally.
The closest I came to pursuing drawing and painting was during my senior year of high school when I sent in a sketch from one of the “Can you Draw Me?” magazine ads and received a positive response to my efforts. My parents agreed to purchase the course of study, and for a time I explored sketching in various mediums in the first lessons. As most of us experience, “life” got in the way, and my artistic endeavors basically came to a halt, aside from some crafting here and there.
For many years of my life spent raising my children and working full time, my creative efforts were dormant. Then, couple of years after my retirement in 2011, my world was turned upside down. My 37 year old son was injured from a bullet, rendering him paralyzed from the neck down and depending on a ventilator to breathe for him. I spent a traumatic seven months by his hospital bedside, praying that he would regain some movement and continue the will to live. Sadly he passed away November 22, 2013, after those months of battling the physical and mental anguish of his situation. As family was gathered around his beside, he made it a point to tell us to “Always remember to stop and smell the roses.”
He was fun-loving and daring himself, and we wanted us to continue living “big” and taking every opportunity to “smell the roses” we come across in this life.
Those words were powerful to this introverted and shy mother of his, and I will never forget them. Losing my son took everything out of me for a good long time, but I was gradually able to begin to smile and enjoy life again, traveling and trying new adventures. In 2018, after my oldest daughter had begun painting (pursuing her own talents set aside by life circumstances), I found a great desire to smell this
rose that had been given to me 68 years earlier at my birth. I bought a few brushes and beginning set of oil paints, along with a couple of small canvases, and tried my hand at my first painting. I loved the feeling of putting the paint on canvas. My first attempt wasn’t bad – not GREAT, but promising. I was encouraged in my heart and by others to continue, and was quite shocked as my brush began to work and paints blended on the canvas to create some lovely effects. I could hardly believe that I was actually painting some really good first pieces of art!
Over the past four years, I have enjoyed creating paintings for my own enjoyment, as gifts, and have painted a few commissions for family and friends. I will be forever grateful those who have encouraged me along the way. It’s definitely been a learning process, and I continue to grow as an artist as I try my hand at various subjects and methods. For now, I tend to enjoy most, bringing life to the canvas in the form of various animals, birds and flowers. God has provided a never-ending source of subjects to explore! And perhaps my son has something to do with my love of painting living things, as I’m doing my best to “smell the roses” and enjoy this life I have been given here on this earth. Life truly is very short, and we don’t know when our time here will end. “Never forget to stop and smell the roses!”